Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting Post harvest technology Packing and Storage


  • Time and stage of harvesting chilli is governed by the purpose for which it is grown.
  • The large part of the crop is producing dry chilli fruits.

  • The crop is ready for harvesting green chilli in about a month after transplanting.
  • One or two pickings of green fruits can be taken and the produce is disposed of in local market to be used as green salad, vegetable or condiment.
  • This practice not only supplements net returns to farmer but also enhances growth of plants and induces them to produce more flowers and fruits
  • For dry chillies the fruits should not under ripened or over ripened.
  • Crop is ready for harvesting ripe fruits in about three and a half months.
  • Picking of fruits continues for about 2 months and 6 pickings are taken annually.
  • While harvesting fruits, care should be taken to hold stalks firmly, and fruit should be pulled upward gently, breaking the base of the stalk.
  • If it is rainfed crop 2-4 pickings and for irrigated crop 6-8 pickings are generally taken.
  • Farmers are under the impression that frequent pickings in irrigated chilli cause breaking of twigs and more labour requirement and thus they will reduce the number of pickings which may not be correct.
  • Delayed harvesting of fruits gives poor quality produce.


Post harvest technology

  • Pungency, initial colour and colour retention properties of fruits are closely related to maturity.
  • Pods left to ripen and partially withered on plant are superior in the above said three qualities.
  • However, it should be noted that care must be taken over the extent of withering permitted prior to harvesting, since if prolonged, it can sometimes results in a product with grey colour.

Traditional Sun drying

  • Chillies on harvesting have a moisture content of 65-80% depending on whether partially dried on the plant or harvested while still succulent, this must be reduced to 10% to prepare dried spice.
  • Traditionally, this has been achieved by sun - drying of fruits immediately after harvesting without any special form of treatment.
  • Sun drying even to day the most widely used method in the world.
  • Immediately after harvesting of fresh fruits heaped indoors for 2 or 3 days, so that the partially ripe fruits if any ripen fully and whole produce develops a uniform red colour.
  • The best temperature for ripening is 22-25°C and direct sun light is to be avoided since this can result in the development of white patches
  • Heaped fruits then spread out in the sun on hard dry ground or on concrete floors or even on the flat roofs of houses, frequent stirrings are given during day time in order to get uniform drying and thereby no discolouration or mould growth.
  • The drying fruits are heaped and covered by tarpaulins or gunny bags during nights and spread during day time.
  • After 2 or 3 days, the larger types are flattened by trampling or rolling to facilitate subsequent packing into bags for storage and transport.
  • Drying by this procedure takes 5-15 days depending on prevailing weather.
  • Out of 100 kg of fresh fruits 25-35kg of dried fruits may be obtained.
  • Recently in majority of areas the fresh produce dried on open spaces like roadsides and remain exposed to weather for the entire drying period (5-15 days) may cause contamination with dust and dirt, damaged by rainfall animals, birds and insects.
  • The losses may range 70-80% of total quantity due to this method.
  • Traditional method of harvesting and sun drying involved poor handling of fruits results in bruising and splitting.
  • Bruising shows up as discoloured spots on pods, splitting leads to an excessive amount of loose seeds in a consignment, there is a considerable loss in weight and then in price.
  • If the harvested fruits are not properly dried and protected from rain and pests, it will loose the colour, glossiness and pungency.

Improved CFTRI method of sun - drying:

  • A four - tier system of wire - mesh trays or a single tray of perforated Aluminium took 14 days in sun to dry fruits having a moisture content of 72 to 74% reducing it to about 6%, the traditional method of sun drying takes about 3 weeks to achieve a moisture level of 15-20%.
  • The improved CFTRI technology involves the following steps.
  • Dip fresh chilli in "Dipsol" emulsion for a short period (approx 5 minutes)

Drain excess emulsion

  • For 100 kg of fresh chillies 15 litres of emulsion is required which costs Rs.4/- only.
  • Spread the material for drying on racks having multi-tier wire net trays @ 5-10 kg per m2 of tray area depending upon ambient temperatures.
  • The treated material dry to the commercial level moisture content in about a weeks time.

Advantages of improved CFTRI method are:

  • Rate of drying is fast and hence the drying period is only a week as compared to 15-21 days in traditional method.
  • Requires less space.
  • Helps in better retention of colour and pungency.
  • Gives a more hygienic and superior quality product.
  • Gives 2% more finished product by weight and thus more profits.

Preparation of Emulsion 'DIPSOL':

  • 'Dipsol is a water-based emulsion containing Potassium carbonate (2.5%), refined groundnut oil (1%), Gum acacia (0.1%) and Butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) (0.001). Thus, 100 kilograms of 'Dipsol" contains as follows;
    • Potassium carbonate 2.5 kg
    • Refined groundnut oil 1.0 kg
    • Gum acacia 0.1 kg
    • BHA 0.001 kg
  • Dissolve potassium carbonate and gum acacia in water separately. Similarly, dissolve BHA in refined groundnut oil.
  • Mix water - phase solutions and add BHA dissolved in groundnut oil slowly while stirring.
  • The mixture is passed through a homogenizer twice at 200 kg/

Solar Drying:

  • Recently attempts have been made to develop solar equipment to improve upon the sun - drying techniques, which lead to:
    • (a) better use of available solar radiation
    • (b) reduction in drying time,
    • (c) cleaner and better quality product, free from dust, dirt and insect infestation.
  • This equipment is called 'Solar Drier'.
  • The RRL (Jammu) has devised a Solar Drier for drying chillies.
  • Red chillies of Kashmir are very popular throughout the country as these impart attractive bright red colour to dishes.
  • Chillies are produced in substantial quantity in Kashmir valley and it is a common scene to find chillies strung together in thread and hung on walls and doors or spread on roof tops.
  • Commercially, plants with fruits still unplucked are harvested and spread out on the ground for about a week for partial drying.
  • Thereafter, the fruits are plucked by hand and spread in field for final drying.
  • The entire operation takes about 15 days during which chillies are exposed to dirt, dust, fungus attack besides uneven drying.
  • A solar drier has been made near Pampore (Jammu and Kashmir) which effects complete drying of the commodity in 4-5 days with a marked improvement in colour and storage characteristics.
  • The gadget is very simple and is made of mud, stone pebbles and glass panes only and is specially suited for rural areas.
  • It can be conveniently constructed by village artisans.
  • With the extensive use of such solar driers, sizeable quantities of red chillies and other dried vegetables of improved quality can be produced in rural areas.
  • Work at Agricultural Research Station., Lam on mechanical drying has shown that the produce can be dried within a period of 18 hours with the aid of air blown drier keeping the temperature at 44-46°C.
  • This method not only saves time and avoids watch for 10-15 days, but also imparts deep red colour and glossy texture to the fruits which are liked in Foreign trade and fetch higher premium than that of sun drying (the moisture content of dry pods is to be kept at 8-10%).
  • The cost of mechanical drying worked out to 25 paise per kg of dry fruits.
  • Packing is done after the removal of defective and decolourised pods in gunny bags, Jute boras or palmyrah baskets.


Packing and Storage

  • The discolouration of the red pigment of chilli during storage is greatly influenced by moisture content of pods at the time of storage and temperatures at which the produce is stored.
  • Storage has a marked influence on the colour of the dried chillies though it has little effect on their pungency.
  • Since, colour is one of the main determinants of the price, which a producer receives.
  • Greatest influence on colour retention is not infact of the storage conditions but rather of variety of capsicum or chilli grown.
  • Delaying in harvesting until pods are partially withered on the plant and then curing the sliced pods provide a product with superior colour retention properties.
  • Exposure of dried chillies to air and light accelerates rate of bleaching and so storage in airtight containers away from sunlight is desirable.
  • Moisture content higher than 15% is critical with respect to mould growth.
  • Chillies should be conditioned to 10% moisture and compressed at 2.5 kg / cm2 by using a baling process.
  • For retail or consumer packing of chilli powder.
  • Packing in 3000 gauge low density polyethylene film pouches are suitable for 100 g consumer unit packs to give a shelf - life of 3 to 6 months.
  • Under tropical conditions, 200 - gauge low and high density polyethylene films are suitable for packing of whole chilli in units of 250 g each.
  • Such packs can be stored at a cool, dark, dry place for about a year.
  • Detachment of stalks from pods resulting in bleeding of seeds from within the pods, leading to loss in pungency.
  • As this commodity emits strong odour; it shall be stored in separate compartment as far as possible.
  • Chillies are attacked by spice beetle and cigarette beetle during storage.
  • The storage temperature has a greater influence in colour retention than does light, air, kind of container or when the spice is stored in the whole or ground form.
  • Application of fat - soluble antioxidants has been found to improve colour retention.
  • Addition of antioxidants is more effective after curing than before and in the ground spice rather than whole pods.
  • Rats have a great liking for chillies in spite of their pungency, and therefore care should be taken in storage to protect chillies against this noxious animal.
  • Shelf life of green pepper can be prolonged by using perforated polyethylene bags of 150-200 gauge.
  • Ventilation of packages should be adequate to avoid off-flavour development and moisture condensation in packages.
  • The lowest temperature range recommended for storing green bell peppers is 7-10oC for up to 2-3 weeks.
  • At temperatures below 7oC bell peppers are subjected to chilling injury.
  • Peppers having a large surface to volume ratio are particularly susceptible to water loss.
  • They must be held in high relative humidity of 90-95% or else they will rapidly become wilted.
  • For controlled atmospheric storage of bell peppers, the recommendations are 4-8% oxygen, 2-4% of Carbondioxide at 13oC.
  • Oxygen concentration below 2% combined with 10% Carbondioxide may cause injury.


Andhra Pradesh