The Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR) has developed three hybrid chilli varieties that are resistant to multiple diseases such as phytopthora root rot (PRR) and leaf curl virus (LCV).

Due to the vagaries of weather, PRR and leaf curl virus are becoming a serious threat to the chilli crop in the country. PRR caused by soil borne destructive fungal pathogen which causes root rot in chilli crop and it is estimated to cause annual losses to the tune of around $100 million globally. LCV is the most destructive disease face by chilli growers in terms of incidence and yield loss and is transmitted by the whiteflies and in the affected plants the leaf get curled and rolled resulting in stunted growth.

Madhavi Reddy K, Principal Scientist, Division of Vegetable Crops, IIHR, said three hybrids Arka Nihira, Arka Dhriti and Arka Gagan have shown combined resistance to PRR and LCV among the 11 hybrids developed by the institute. “We will be commercialising them next year and some private seed companies have shown interest in taking the parental lines,” Reddy said.

Features of selection

The chemical control for PRR and LCV is ineffective and also leads to chemical residues affecting exports. Exploring host plant resistance is best advocated strategy to combat these pathogens. In this direction, through phenotypic selection and marker assisted selection CGMS (cytoplasmic genetic male sterility) lines were developed and were used to develop F1hybrids using LCV resistant male parents, Reddy said. The new hybrids are for different market segments with medium to high pungency targetted at key growing regions of Guntur and Warangal.

India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of dry chillies. Exports of dry chillies had touched a record ₹10,444 crore during 2022-23.