From a buyer’s point of view, many characteristics contribute to pepper fruit quality. Quickly and at all points along the chain from farm to plate, quality is assessed based on a lengthy list of fruit characteristics (e.g., size, shape, color, weight, wall thickness, taste, texture) and using one or more of the senses and/or various instruments and technologies. Although most consumers expect high-quality versions of individual types of peppers (e.g., bell, habanero) to have specific sets of characteristics, others look for “new” or “different” versions of familiar crops and are often willing to pay more for them. With that and other important production-related considerations in mind, research at The OSU-OARDC is evaluating the effects of physically hybridizing different types of pepper plants – i.e., using bell, habanero, and other types of pepper as rootstock and scion during grafting. Varieties of different types of pepper are known for their vigor, maturity, disease and abiotic stress tolerance, and fruit size, shape, color, texture, taste (including “hotness”), etc. As with all other vegetable crops that are routinely grafted (tomato, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe), plants and fruit resulting from combinations of pepper varieties made through grafting are being tested to determine if they provide growers with advantages so far unavailable from standard variety development. Grafted plants within this group were prepared months ago and include bell and “hot” varieties as rootstock or scion. When healed, the grafted plants and their ungrafted comparison plants were placed in containers in an outside growing area and managed using standard approaches. On Sept. 21, the plants were moved into a greenhouse so that fruit development could proceed more reliably, given the date. Going forward, fruit they produce will be examined in the laboratory, including for their level of capsaicin and relative “hotness”, in a process led by Dr. Joe Scheerens. Grafted and ungrafted versions of tomato and watermelon plants and fruit they have produced are being studied in four other large-scale field experiments also now moving into their laboratory and data analysis stage. Reports from these and other experiments will be issued throughout the fall-winter but Matt Kleinhenz can be reached for more information in the meantime.