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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bhut Jalokia, Trinidad Scorpion Chiles

Bhut jalokia chiles, rated at 1.2 million Scoville Heat Units.
In 2007 the Guinness World Records organization certified the Bhut Jalokia pepper as the hottest in the world. The next year, if you searched for the words, “Bhut Jalokia” or “ghost pepper” on Google, my garden blog would show up at the top in the search rankings. I wasn’t the only one in the U.S. growing the peppers, I was just one of the first who was writing about the peppers in my blogs and encouraging others to grow it. Now you’ll find lots of listings for the pepper, although my blog posts still show up on the first page of Google (for those of you who don’t use Google searches, high rankings are a good thing). I’ve been growing the chile pepper every year since.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chile, 1.2 to 2 million Heat Unit
Last year the Bhut jalokia dropped in ranking from the world’s hottest, to the second-to-the-hottest pepper on earth. It was replaced by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. The difference in the two? In terms of Scoville Heat Units (the officially recognized measurement of pepper heat) the Bhut jalokia weighs in at one million to 1.2 million Heat Units. By contrast, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion comes in with a whopping 1.2 million to 2 million Heat Units, depending on growing conditions. Since most people think a jalapeno is hot (coming in at a mere 10,000 Heat Units) the Bhut and Scorpion peppers are exponentially hotter.

Bhut Jalokia plants in November.

I haven’t grown the Scorpion yet, but will be. My half dozen Bhut Jalokia plants are doing well, although this is not a chile pepper that likes the heat. Bhut Jalokia is native to Sri Lanka, in the mountainous tea growing region of India. It does best in cooler temperatures and so I expect, like last year, pepper production will increase considerably as fall comes on. Last year, when all my other hot peppers were over and done, the Bhuts were cranking out peppers clear into November.

This season for the first time I have encountered a pepper-wasting disease. Actually it’s related to the Verticillium wilt that affects tomatoes some years, but I seem to have encouraged it, unknowingly. I mulched my plants especially heavily with straw this year. And because the plants have looked deep green and “happy,” I thought I was doing them a great favor by watering every other day throughout the drought.

Wilting disease in peppers affects chiles that are heavily mulched, and plants that are over-watered. The plant wilts, as if it needs water, then just dies in a few days. Out of the 35 peppers, 29 of which are hot, I have lost 8 plants this year. Once I learned the problem, from an internet search, I cut back to watering only once a week, pulled back the mulch from around the plants and it seems to have slowed the progression of the disease. I’ll not plant peppers in that space next year as additional protection.

Ozarks Gardening
Copyright© Jim Long 2012

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