Nsukka yellow pepper is an important aromatic pepper that is highly valued for heat, spice and flavour in Eastern Nigeria. The study was initiated to investigate the effects of different plant population densities on the morphological and fruiting characteristics of Nsukka yellow pepper cultivar. Eight treatment combinations giving rise to different population densities were used. The data on the number of leaves, number of branches, canopy diameter, plant height, number of fruits and fruit weight were collected at different days after planting (DAP) covering the periods of growth, flowering and fruiting. The results of the study showed that the different morphological parameters in addition to the number of fruits and fruit weight were significantly affected by plant population densities. The number of leaves was highest in T1 at 129 DAP and least in T2 at 66 DAP. The number of branches ranged from 0.27 to 3.47 and 55.1 to 97.9 at 66 and 129 DAP, respectively. The canopy diameter ranged from 9.24 to 19.82 cm recorded at 66 DAP and 41.18 to 73.66 cm recorded at 129 DAP, while the least plant height (6.33 cm) was recorded in T7 and the highest (56.01 cm) in T1 at 66 and 129 DAP, respectively. The highest fruit number and fruit weight per plant were obtained at plant densities of 20689.66 plants/ha (T1) and 31034.48/ha (T3) under plant spacing of 75 × 60 and 45 × 60 cm, respectively. The highest weight of fruits per hectare was obtained at the highest population density of 77586.21 plants/ha (T8). Farmers aiming at the selling point of single fruits are encouraged to use low population densities which is achieved by higher plant spacing but cumulative yield per hectare was higher at high population density under low plant spacing.
Key words: Aroma, Nsukka, pepper, plant spacing, population density, spice.
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