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Israel: All about cost-efficiency in growing habanero peppers

The climate in the Israeli Arava Valley is conducive to grow almost disease-free peppers. “The disease pressure is very low”, says a grower of habanero peppers. “We don’t have botrytis or rots. However, we have our problems: heat and soil salinity. Desalination of the soil is not cost-effective. Therefore, we use a specific type of irrigation method to deal with the saltiness of the earth.”

The growers do suffer from frost from time to time, but they don’t have a heating system to protect the crops from frost. “The key for us to be more efficient”, he says. “Of course we can heat and do all those things, but it is not cost-effective. Growing on hydroponics would be a option, but it is an expensive one. It will cost more than we can sell the product for.”

The Israeli export company, Arava Export Growers, exports the habanero peppers worldwide. “We have been growing various kinds of hot peppers for seven years now”, says another grower. “For the last two years, we have only been growing habaneros. They sell well and have better quality.”

The habanero peppers are grown in the full ground, in two hectares of net houses. “The best time to set the pepper plants is when the nights are 12 degrees and the days, 24”, the growers explain. “We finish the setting in the first week of December.”

After the plants have been set, they are covered with plastic. The nets on the houses block some of the sun’s radiation. Although the farmers have a quota, they irrigate as much as they can. “We stop harvesting in mid-May/beginning of June. Then, we remove the plants, opens sides of net houses, plow and start growing other crops until the chili season starts again.”

For more information:
Yair Ohana
Arava Export Growers

[email protected]

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