LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) — New Mexico State University is providing a program to students about the wide range of peppers the state has to offer.

The Chile Pepper Breeding and Genetics Program Research helps students use novel tools and modern genetics to better every pepper. 

Dennis Lozada is the assistant professor for Chile Pepper Breeding and Genetics at NMSU, and says their main focus is controlling the traits, flavors, yield, genes and quality in every chile pepper.   

“For the project, I’ll be looking at having a Ph.D. student to work on the general mix for yield and nutrition in New Mexican chile peppers and we also hire a lot of undergraduates, to help us do our research. So, there is definitely active student participation for the projects,” Lozada said.

Lozada adds New Mexican peppers are known to be different from other chile peppers in the country because of their unique taste. He added that he wants to let the community know there’s more to a chile than its spiciness. 

“They’re very nutritious, and studies have found time and again that we have various vitamins, nutrients and minerals in chiles that we can’t find anywhere else, in other food sources,” Lozada said.

Lozada tells KTSM, if the school is able to develop a variety of peppers with higher yield, then that could compensate for other factors.  

“The production has been decreasing in the past couple of years and it’s mainly due to various reasons. We have the issue of labor. We have yields, which have been considered as subpar, so there has been a decrease in yields as well,” he said.

Although Lozada sees the study as long term, he hopes to get at least four years of support from the National Institute of Agriculture grant.   

Prior to working at NMSU, Lozada used to work with grains for many years as a winter wheat breeder with genetics. When the position with the Chile Pepper Breeding and Genetics program opened up at NMSU, he looked forward to joining the program. 

With the support from the community, Lozada believes the program will go far when it comes to impacting farmers and growers and making a difference around the world, not just New Mexico. 

To learn more about how students can participate in the Chile Pepper Institute program at the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES), click here.

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