- Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, known as a peppercorn, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. When fresh and fully mature, the fruit is about 5 mm (0.20 in) in diameter and dark red, and contains a single seed, like all drupes. Peppercorns and the ground pepper derived from them may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit), or white pepper (ripe fruit seeds).
- Black pepper is native to present-day Kerala in South India, and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. Vietnam is the world's largest producer and exporter of pepper, producing 34% of the world's crop, as of 2013.
- Ground, dried and cooked peppercorns have been used since antiquity, both for flavour and as a traditional medicine. Black pepper is the world's most traded spice, and is one of the most common spices added to cuisines around the world. Its spiciness is due to the chemical compound piperine, which is a different kind of spicy from the capsaicin characteristic of chili peppers. It is ubiquitous in the modern world as a seasoning, and is often paired with salt and available on dining tables in shakers or mills.
Production of rooted cuttings
Runner shoots from high yielding and healthy vines are kept coiled on wooden pegs fixed at the base of the vine to prevent the shoots from coming in contact with soil and striking roots. The runner shoots are separated from the vine during February-March and after trimming the leaves, cuttings of 2-3 nodes each are planted either in nursery beds or in polythene bags filled with fertile soil. Adequate shade has to be provided and the polythene bags are to be irrigated frequently. The cuttings become ready for planting during May - June.
Rapid multiplication method
- An efficient propagation technique developed at Sri Lanka has been modified for adoption in India for quick and easy multiplication of black pepper vines. In this method, a trench of 45 cm depth, 30 cm width and convenient length is made. The trench is filled with rooting medium comprising of forest soil, sand and farm yard manure in 1:1:1 ratio. Split halves of bamboo with septa or split halves of PVC pipes of 1.25-1.50 meter length and 8-10 cm diameter provided with plastic septa at 30 cm intervals are fixed at 45∞ angle on a strong support. Rooted cuttings are planted in the trench at the rate of one cutting for each bamboo split. The lower portions of the bamboo splits are filled with rooting medium (preferably weathered coir dust-farm yard manure mixture in 1:1 ratio) and the growing vine is tied to the bamboo split in such a way so as to keep the nodes pressed to the rooting medium. The tying can be done with dried banana leaf sheath fibers or coir rope. The cuttings are irrigated regularly. As the cuttings grow, the bamboo splits are filled with rooting medium and each node is pressed down to the rooting medium and tied. For rapid growth, a nutrient solution of urea (1 kg), super phosphate (0.75 kg), muriate of potash (0.5 kg) and magnesium sulphate (0.25 kg) in 250 litres of water is to be applied @ 0.25 litre per vine at monthly intervals.
- When the vine reaches the top (3-4 months after planting of the cutting) the terminal bud is nipped off and the vine is crushed at about three nodes above the base, in order to activate the axillary buds. After about 10 days, the vine is cut at the crushed point and removed from the rooting medium and cut between each node. Each cutting with the bunch of roots intact is planted in polythene bags filled with fumigated potting mixture. Trichoderma @ one gram and VAM @ 100 cc/kg of soil can be added to the potting mixture. Care should be taken to keep the leaf axil above the soil. The polythenebags should be kept in a cool and humid place, or should be covered with thin polythene (200 gauge) sheet to retain humidity. The buds start developing in about 3 weeks and the polybags can then be removed and kept in shade.
- The advantages of this method of propagation are rapid multiplication (1:40), well developed root system, higher field establishment and vigorous growth as a result of better root system.
- A simple, cheap and efficient technique for propagating black pepper from single nodes of runner shoots taken from field grown vines has been developed at the institute. A pit of 2.0 meter x 1.0 meter x 0.5 meter size is dug under a cool and shaded area. Single nodes of 8-10 cm length and with their leaf intact, taken from runner shoots of field grown vines are planted in polythene bags (25 cm x 15 cm, 200 gauge) filled at the lower half with a mixture of sand, soil, coir dust and cow dung in equal proportion. The single nodes are to be planted in the bags in such a way that their leaf axil is above the potting mixture. The polythene bags with the planted single nodes are arranged in the pit. After keeping the bags in the pit, the pit should be covered with a polythene sheet. This sheet may be secured in position by placing weights on the corners. The cuttings should be watered at least five times a day with a rose can and the pit should be covered with the polythene sheet immediately after watering. It is advisable to drench the cuttings two-three times with copper oxychloride (2g/litre).
- After two-three weeks of planting, the cuttings will start producing roots which are visible through the polythene bags. After the initiation of roots the frequency of watering may be reduced to three-four times a day. After about one month, new shoots start emerging from the leaf axil. At this stage it is advisable to keep the pit open for about one hour per day so that the cuttings would harden and will not dry when they are taken out of the pit. The cuttings can be taken out of the pit after two months of planting and kept in a shaded place and watered twice a day. These cuttings will be ready for field planting after about 2? months. By this method 80-85 per cent success can be obtained. Foliar application of nutrient solution will also enhance the growth of the cuttings.
Cheaper propagation technique for production of rooted cuttings of black pepper is serpentine layering. In a nursery shed with roofing sheet or shade net, rooted black pepper cuttings are planted in polythene bags holding about 500 g potting mixture, which will serve as mother plants. As the plant grows and produces few nodes small polythene bags (20 x 10 cm) filled with potting mixture may be kept under each node. The node may be kept gently pressed in to the mixture assuring contact with the potting mixture with the help of a flexible twig such as mid rib of a coconut leaflet to enable rooting at that junction. Roots start growing from the nodes and the cuttings keep on growing further. The process of keeping potting mixture filled polythene bags at every node to induce rooting at each node is repeated. In three months the first 10 to 12 nodes (from the mother plants) would have rooted profusely and will be ready for harvest. Each node with the polythene bag is cut just below the rooted node and the cut end is also buried into the mixture to induce more roots. Polythene bags filled with solarized potting mixture or soil, granite powder and farmyard manure in 2:1:1 proportion is recommended for producing disease free rooted cuttings. The rooted nodes will produce new sprouts in a week time and will be ready for field planting in two-three months time. Daily irrigation can be given with a rose can. On an average, 60 cuttings can be harvested per mother plant in a year by this method.
- Panniyur 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
- IISR Thevam
- IISR Malabar Excel
- IISR Girimunda
- IISR Sakthi
Slopes facing West and South should be avoided. Pits of 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm size are dug at a spacing of 2 to 3 m in either direction (Panniyur 1 - 3 x 3 m). 5 to 10 kg of FYM/Compost is mixed with top soil and the pits are filled. Rooted cuttings are planted in June - July @ two per standard like Silver oak, Dadap and Jack. In multitier cropping system, standards should be planted at a spacing of 7 – 8 m.
- Black pepper vines develop three types of aerial shoots, namely
- Primary stem with long internodes, with adventitious roots which cling to the standards
- Runner shoots which originate from the base of the vine and have long internodes which strike roots at each node and
- Fruit bearing lateral branches. Cuttings are raised mainly from runner shoots, though terminal shoots can also be used.