Effects of hardening off on Growth, Yield and Quality of some Pepper (Capsicum annuum) Cultivars
Research findings attribute field performance of crops to factors such as hardening off. As a result, an experiment was conducted at the Department of Horticulture Experimental Field of the University for Development Studies (UDS) Nyankpala Campus to assess the effects of hardening off on the growth, yield and quality of Cayenne chilli, Scotch bonnet and Sweet pepper cultivars. The treatments were: Cayenne chili pepper hardened off (C1), Cayenne chilli pepper non-hardened off (C2), Scotch bonnet pepper hardened off (SB1), Scotch bonnet pepper non-hardened off (SB2), Sweet pepper hardened off (SW1) and Sweet pepper non-hardened off (SW2). These were arranged in a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) using a 2 x 3 factorial combination with three replications. The results indicate that there were significant differences (p < 0.05) between the hardened off and non-hardened off pepper cultivars in all the growth and yield parameters studied, except fruit diameter and fruit length. The interactions of the two factors (hardening off and the pepper varieties) produced significant effects in all the growth and yield parameters studied. Hardening off produced taller plants [C1 (25.56 cm), SB1 (21.14 cm) and SW1 (13.64 cm)], broader leaves [C1 (20.25 cm2); SB1 (24.53 cm2) and SW1 (26.11 cm2)], more fruits [SW1 (39); C1 (35) and SB1 (16)], bigger fruits [C1 (126.21 cm2), SW1 (86.54 cm2) and SB1 (40.14 cm2)] and higher yields [C1 (3.40 t ha-1); SW1 (3.22 t ha-1); and SB1 (1.82 t ha-1)]. Hardening off also improved fruit quality in terms of freshness/firmness but did not influence colour change of the fruits.
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