Origin and History of National Pepper Conference

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In August 1972, Dr. Ben Villalón, Plant Virologist-Breeder TAES, Weslaco visited Dr. Tom Zitter, Plant Pathologist, I.F.A.S., Belle Glade, Florida to discuss Capsicum spp. (pepper) virus diseases and breeding programs. Discussion led to the idea of organizing all pepper research scientists to exchange information and germplasm of mutual interest, Zitter consequently gave Villalón a partial list of federal and state pepper workers. Villalón compiled a list of 65 workers and mailed a questionnaire to ascertain potential interest in a pepper conference for spring or fall 1973. The positive response was tremendous, and the list of cooperators grew to 120. The first National Pepper Conference (NPC) was held in McAllen and Weslaco, Texas, on April 25, 1973.


Peppers (chiles) are the number one spice food ingredient in the world because of their mild capsaicin content and the many health aspects of the pod.  Mexican food is the number one ethnic food in the
U.S.A. because of peppers.  Bell pepper is the most highly consumed pepper type in the U.S.A, followed by long green/red chile, cayenne, jalapeño, tabasco, paprika, serrano, habanero, ancho, cherry, pimiento, yellow pickling types. Breeding peppers for the processing industry is a herculean task.  Every major processing entity requires and demands peppers with their own unique characteristics with respect to types, size, color, flavor, pungency, fruit dry matter, resistance to insects, diseases, and health related issues. The product can be fresh market for all and or processed into whole, sliced pickled, picante sauces, etc. 

Viruses are ultramicroscopic particles of different shapes and sizes that can only be observed under an electron microscope. They are made up of genetic RNA (ribonucleic acid) and or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) bundles wrapped up in a protein coat. They are neither alive nor dead but are somewhere in limbo and are the smartest parasites in the world. Their main goal is to reproduce themselves inside a living cell without killing the host. If the host is strong enough (resistant) to destroy the virus, the virus might mutate to a stronger entity to survive but not kill the host.