In order to assess the effect of fast neutron irradiation (FNI) on growth and yield parameters of Capsicum annum and Capsicum frutescens, 400 dry seeds of each species were exposed to FNI from an Americium Beryllium source with a flux of 1.5 ×104 n.cm2/s for five irradiation exposure periods (IEPs): 0, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min (100 seeds per treatment). Plant grown parameters (percent germination, plant height and number of leaves/plant) and yield parameters (number of fruit/plant, number of seeds/fruit, length of fruit and weight of fruit) from each FNI treatment and control were measured. Highly significant differences were observed in plant height and number of leaves/plant in both species. Different irradiation exposure periods tend to favour different yield parameters in C. annum in which the number of fruits/plant and number of seeds/fruit were improved by 90 min IEP, the width and length of fruit were favoured by 60 min IEP and the weight of fruit by 120 min IEP. The values obtained in C. frutescensshowed a reduction in fruit length and weight with an increase in irradiation exposure period (IEP). However, 90 min IEP resulted in more fruits/plant and wider plants. FNI serves as a valuable tool for the improvement of peppers (both C. annum and C.frutescens).
Key words: Capsicum annum, Capsicum frutescens, fast neutron, irradiation exposure period.
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