Peruvian Aji Amarillo

I guess there’s also the possibility that, despite my care, the seeds I collected from the aji amarillo pods were somehow hybridized.

Are you able to see all 3 pics I posted? Not exactly sure how to work the system, but if you click on one pic, you can scroll to the other 2.

I hope you’re right and the amarillo plants are just managing their workload…that would be a great outcome, as there are still tons of fruits that could become ripe at some point.

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Much appreciated @bogman, as always.

I don’t even know how to ask this question, but aren’t there different Aji Amarillo types? Like the small ones and the big ones from Artisan? I should know this, but I don’t; is this related to the F1 question.?

Just an update on my aji plants: I’m really beginning to believe these are somehow hybridized - it’s really the only logical explanation I can come up with. I collected the seeds from one pod (maybe two) from the previous plant, believing no other peppers were in bloom when the aji pods were still just flowers, but I must have been mistaken. So what happened is, I have inadvertently created an amazing hybrid that produces huge, lush plants that are enormously prolific, but the fruit is a failure: they look good while green, but in most cases, drop from the plant before ripening. One lonely pod turned orange, but when I cut and tasted it, there is very little flavor (sort of an insipid bell pepper taste) and minimal heat (say, jalapeño level). I’ll let the plants continue to grow in their pots and see what happens, but I’m afraid this was all a lesson in “how not to save seeds”.

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Thank you for your update! Interesting. Here are mine. From a two year old plant, and a 2021 seedling.


There is another explanation: If one saves seeds from just one or a few plants, there can be inbred mutations popping up or what is termed “genetic drift”, where genetics, which is not diverse, goes in another direction. My parents, in FL, kept saving seeds from their two plants and the seed’s became less viable and produced fewer pods.

Before you pitch the plants or let them freeze, it’d be worth trying an experiment:
If the plants have Calcium deficiency, all sorts of anomalies can happen. In the evening, spray the foliage down with “Rot Stop”, a Calcium chloride garden spray used to stop blossom end rot. Another, slower method is to take 1 1/2 teaspoons of powdered dolomitic limestone, mix it with one gallon of water and pour it into the soil while swirling to keep the powder suspended. Foliar feeding, days later, with an all-purpose fertilizer, then seaweed will supply any other missing nutrient, e.g. phosphorous.

When I grow Aji Amarillo, I try to grow at least eight plants. The seedlings are further diversified by starting seeds from different years’ harvests. So, in a given year, plants from seeds collected in (e.g.) 2013 and 2019 will be grown and bees mix up the pollen. In the tent, where bees are absent, I grab a small paintbrush and “play bee” in the morning, mixing pollen from all the plants.

Shrinkrap, there are many varieties of Aji amarillo, most with local populations bred for the local climate and production needs. “Escabeche” is the medium-long, fleshy, most common type; the one I grow. I got rid of my “Mirasol” types, as the plants were gigantic (over eight feet in August) with pods spread far apart. Mirasol Aji Amarillo are bred for drying in the sun, which explains the tall, leggy plants. They likely dry on the plants.

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Even in late October, the plants still look really good and have produced tons of peppers. Yes, most of them have fallen off while still green, but as you can see in the latest pics, lots of fruit is still attached and one has actually turned orange. In fact, this is the healthiest, most impressive, most productive pepper I have ever grown in my life! Everything about it is good except is isn’t producing Aji amarillo fruits (and many fall off green). The peppers don’t look like the peppers I had last year at all - morphologically, they are almost identical to the jumbo jalapeño peppers I have grown each year. But these turn orange, not red!

The plant I bought as labeled “escabeche” and the fruit was amazing in every way, though the plant was much smaller. And yes, I had just the one plant that I collected seeds from - probably from just one pod (maybe two). I sprouted about 12 plants from the seeds and culled down to just the two plants I’m growing, which appeared to be the strongest.

I’m afraid this is just going down as a propagation failure. Nothing looks like any sort of nutrient deficiency, and I’m growing all sorts of tomatoes and peppers in the same soil and everything is performing normally. Only this Aji plant is an anomaly, not to be repeated…

Latest update: I took that orange pod off the plant and cut it up…and guess what? It tastes absolutely amazing - tropical fruity - and it’s got plenty of heat. While it doesn’t look like most Aji amarillos, it sure has the right color, taste, and scoville units. Now, after growing all year, this is only the second pod to turn orange on two plants, and the first one tasted rather bland. Does one pepper make up for a whole season of disappointment? Almost!

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Fresno, Sugar Rush Peach, and Aji Something
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It definitely sounds like too much inbreeding. Some plants are fine with that and mostly self pollinate. Even then, the more plants one uses for seed collection, the less chance there is of unwanted genetic drift. If you want to try to grow plants again and would like Aji Amarillo, Escabeche type seed from me, let me know. I’ll try to message you details.

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Thanks Rob - I’ll send you an email with the address. We ate the one good fruit from the big plant last night and it was amazing. This morning, I noticed another one starting to turn orange. Maybe I’ll salvage something out of this experiment yet!

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An update on my Aji Amarillo. After my mid August post, the weather cooled a little, and I started to get good fruit set. I have a good number of full size peppers now, and the are the right size and shape! I’m worried that I only have a couple weeks of frost free nights. Not sure these will ripen. I have another plant in a pot, so I can bring that in. But the ones in the garden I’m not sure what to do about. Any suggestions?

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Mid-November and my dysfunctional plants have now transformed into fully functional plants! I’ve gone from thinking about scrapping them to the composter to wanting to collect the seeds. Not only are the two plants producing tons of peppers, the peppers themselves are more plump than last year’s Ajis, and just as tasty. Despite all the dropped fruit, we still have nearly 100 on the plant, of which about 20 are in various stages of ripening to a vibrant orange. These plants are certainly outliers in my (admittedly limited) experience of growing peppers in San Diego. But the end result is worth the wait.

We made carnitas last night in the InstaPot and threw in a couple Aji peppers, which added a fabulous flavor and zip. Planning to try some of the recipes you guys have kicked around on this blog.

Thanks for all your moral support throughout the tenuous growing period!

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Yay! Where do you garden? I’m in N. Cal, and I haven’t seen many flowers lately but I’m still picking fruit.

NVM. I see it. San Diego!

Sorry I didn’t see this sooner! The outdoor plants can often be covered with some sort of insulation blanket and plastic film, during the cold nights, mornings. Plastic film and a heat mat can also work. Your situation is similar to mine; that’s why I constructed the tent/greenhouse above.

Just remember to uncover before hot sun comes out and bakes the plants!

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Excellent! I’m still going to send you some seeds soon, so inbreeding isn’t an issue. It does sound like the plants were thinning themselves, after setting too many peppers. Good to hear your efforts are paying off!

Yes, San Diego, but specifically, at 500 ft on Mount Soledad, so our weather is even more benign than typical San Diego coastal. My plants are not flowering anymore, but there’s no reason to think they won’t last through the winter here.

We had a period of cooler weather, followed by a warm spell (85F days and 70F nights) - neither of those seemed to induce any pepper drop.

Thanks! Next season I’m going to grow more of these and fewer bells, so will have room for several Ahi plants.

Makeshift greenhouse and my Northern VA aji amarillo are ripening. Made some aji de gallina a couple weeks ago with the first ones to ripen. Great flavor.

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Nice!

Harvested quite a few a week or so ago, and trying to decide which plant to put in “my greenhouse” and how to prepare it. Last year I brought in too many whiteflies.

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