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Chile Cultivars of New Mexico State University Released from 1913 to 2008

New Mexico No. 9

Before Dr. Garcia developed the New Mexican pod type, there was no control over the genetic constitution of the chile seeds planted, so farmers could never predict the size or heat of the pods. Dr. Garcia thought that if he made the chiles milder, consumption would increase among the Anglo population. He had two colors of chile to choose from, red (colorado) or black (negro); he chose the red strain. This was fortuitous for New Mexico because, 100 years later, chile (paprika) used as a red coloring agent has become an important part of the New Mexico chile industry. Dr. Garcia improved native chile through hybridization and selection. His goal was to produce a chile cultivar that was “larger, smoother, fleshier, more tapering and included a shoulder-less pod for canning purposes.” He selected 14 chile accessions growing in the Las Cruces area from three types, pasilla (dark brown), colorado, and negro chiles.

After nine years, only one line — New Mexico No. 9 — remained, and according to Dr. Garcia it had "proven to be the best." He went on to say, "While New Mexico No. 9 is not quite as hot as most of the unimproved varieties, it seems to be hot enough. Most of the plants produce pods having the characteristics desired, but there are always some plants in the field which tend to revert back; consequently, it is very necessary to select the seed in the field (Garcia, 1921). Heat of New Mexico No. 9 is estimated to have been in the range of 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), because it was reported to be twice as hot as New Mexico No. 6 (Harper, 1950). In retrospect, it was serendipitous that Dr. Garcia picked the pasilla, colorado, and negro types; these types probably intercrossed and produced progeny that contained novel gene combinations, allowing him to select for the new pod type and cultivar.




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