Super Hot Habanero Chillis are riding high. While the F1 hybrid hot peppers distributed by the major vegetable seed companies are selling at a low P15 to P20 per kilo ex-farm, the fruits of the Habanero type (bigger fruits that are super hot) are selling at P300 to P550 per kilo in the market. The buyers are the many small chilli sauce makers who buy 10 to 20 kilos at a time, according to Ponchit Ponce Enrile, head of the Federation of Chilli Producers that count on a membership of more than 11,000 grower and processors.
The sauce makers prefer the super hot varieties for their pungency and excellent flavor. The fact is that some sauce makers are importing powder of the Carolina Reaper at US$150 or more than P7,500 per kilo.
A fellow from the North is reported to be making a killing because he has a big production of an open-pollinated Habanero. The fellow would rather remain incognito. Each of his plant could yield a kilo of fresh fruits. A few is said to produce as much as three kilos.
Here comes the good news. The East-West Seed has developed two new Habanero chilli that could be much better in terms of productivity, resistance to stresses, pungency and other desirable traits.
The new EWS Habanero are only known by their code number today. One is No. 30183 which is an early maturing Habanero (75 to 85 days) which is bright red when mature and light green when immature. This variety has strong plant vigor and high yield potential. The fruits which are 4.5 x 3 cm and weighing 10 to 12 grams each are shiny red with strong rib, high pungency, and very strong aroma. It is adapted to tropical lowland wet and dry seasons.
The other new Habanero hybrid is No. 30185 which has very strong plant vigor and good foliage cover that protects the fruits from sun scalding. Fruits are 4.3 x 3.3 cm long weighing 10-12 grams each, with thin wall, bright yellow when fully mature with high pungency and aroma. First fruits, light yellow when immature, are harvestable 80 to 90 days after transplanting. It is adapted to tropical lowland wet and dry seasons.
LOW PRICE OF F1 HOT PEPPERS – By the way, why the low price of the F1 hot peppers from the seed companies? Well, Ponchit Ponce Enrile has the answer. He said that in the previous cropping in 2018, the hot pepper harvest fetched as much as P1,000 per kilo. So the next season everybody planted F1 varieties. That resulted in oversupply, favored by good weather conditions. There was practically no anthracnose infection that ended up in bumper harvests but low prices.