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Agriculture > Spices > Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Crop Management

Production of quality planting materials

Black pepper vines develop three types of aerial shoots, namely:

  1. Primary stem with long internodes and with adventitious roots, which cling to the standards
  2. Runner shoots which originate from the base of the vine and have long inter nodes which strike roots at each node
  3. Fruit bearing lateral branches.

Pepper is propagated vegetatively from cuttings. Select runner shoots produced at the base of mother plants and keep them coiled and raised to prevent from striking roots in the soil. Separate them from the vines in February-March. The middle one-third portion of runner shoot is preferred for planting. Very tender and too hard portions of the shoots are to be avoided.

The shoots are cut into pieces with 2-3 nodes in each. Leaves, if any, are to be clipped off leaving a small portion of the petioles on the stem. Dipping the lower cut end (up to 2 cm) of the cuttings in 1000 ppm solution of 3-indole butyric acid (IBA) for 45 seconds will increase root formation and development. The solution can be prepared by dissolving 1 g of IBA in one litre of water containing 3-5 g of sodium carbonate (washing soda). The dipping period of 45 seconds should be strictly adhered to, as any deviation from this may be injurious. Treating the cuttings with Seradix B2 is equally effective. But IBA treatment is cheaper and hence is recommended for large nurseries where technical supervision is available. Farmers and small-scale nurseries can conveniently use Seradix B2.

Plant the treated cuttings in nursery beds or preferably in polythene bags or baskets filled with potting mixture. The potting mixture is prepared by mixing two parts of fertile topsoil, one part of river sand and one part of well rotten cattle manure.Substituting granite powder (a waste material from stone quarries) for sand in conventional potting mixture (2:1:1) is good for growth of pepper cuttings and is economical. Recommended for black pepper nurseries for large scale multiplication. Solarized potting mixture supplemented with nutrient solution (urea, superphosphate, MOP and magnesium sulphate in 4:3:2:1 ratio) and fortified with biocontrol consortia promotes growth and helps in production of disease free rooted cuttings. When polythene bags are used, sufficient number of holes (16-20) may be provided at the base to ensure good drainage. The cuttings should be planted at least one node deep in the soil. The cutting after planting should be kept under good shade. In large nurseries, pandals are to be constructed for this purpose. The cuttings are to be well protected from direct sunlight and frequent watering is recommended in the nursery to maintain a humid and cool atmosphere around the cuttings. Watering 2-3 times a day is sufficient. Heavy watering, which makes the soil slushy and causes water logging is to be avoided.

Serpentine method of propagation

Three node cuttings planted in polythene bags are kept in a corner of the nursery. When the plant develops two leaves they are trailed horizontally in polythene bags containing potting mixture kept below each tender node. Each node will be pressed into the mixture with polythene bags with ‘V’ shaped midribs of coconut leaves. As new shoots arise these will be trailed horizontally in polythene bags containing potting mixture. Upward growth of cutting is not arrested. Once twenty nodes get rooted first 10 bags in the rooted nodes will be separated by cutting at the inter nodes. The inter nodal stub will be pushed back into the potting mixture. These stubs also produce a second root system. Daily irrigation is to be given using a rose can. After three months it will be ready for planting in the main field. On an average 60 cuttings will be obtained in a year by this method from each mother cutting. Recommended in black pepper nurseries for large scale multiplication.

Nursery diseases: (See diseases given under plant protection)

  • Selection criteria for planting materials

Cultivate only varieties, which are proven to be highly productive. Select mother plants, which give regularly high yields and possess other desirable attributes such as vigorous growth, maximum number of spikes per unit area, long spikes, close setting of berries, disease tolerance etc. Selected mother plants should be in the age group of 5-12 years. Mark and label selected mother plants in October-November.

Availability of planting materials

  1. Spices Board's nurseries located in Kerala (
  2. IISR (ICAR) at Marikunnu, Calicut, Kerala, India. (
  3. Pepper Research Station at Panniyur, Kannur District, Kerala, India (Phone: 0460 2227287).
  4. State Department of Agriculture, Kerala through its central nurseries produce pepper cuttings, which are supplied through Krishi Bhavans. District Agriculture Offices in Kerala will give information on supply of cuttings. (
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