The Habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) is a hot climate vegetable that is regularly grown in a temperature range that reaches up to 35 degrees. Thus, it has the best development in subtropical areas such as Yucatan, a state that concentrates 73 percent of the cultivated area of habanero pepper in Mexico.
Could Baja California produce Habanero peppers? Researchers from the San Quintin School of Engineering and Business from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), are experimenting with the cultivation of habanero pepper in greenhouse conditions, a modality in which they have managed to increase its yields.
Open field production
In the town of Santo Tomas, which is south of the municipality of Ensenada in Baja California, a producer ventured into the cultivation of habanero pepper in the open field since the 1990s, and now produces 100 to 120 tons a year.
Jose Alfredo Garcia Gomez, an employee at the family business, said that they produced the habanero pepper in moderation, and that they only allocated 8 to 10 hectares to this crop; most of which is marketed in the national market.
The climate in Santo Tomas is arid and there are no suitable conditions for cultivation, especially in the winter season, when the temperature drops and the crop is lost because the plants freeze, he said. “The habanero pepper crops here get burned with the first frost in November or December. The fruit and leaves become frozen. That’s the problem, so we can’t continue cultivating it,” said Alfredo Garcia.
Aurelia Mendoza Gomez, a research professor at the San Quintin School of Engineering and Business and head of the academic body of Protected Agriculture in Arid Zones, believes that the Habanero pepper market is attractive to Mexican farmers and can become an alternative for producers in Baja California.