"Extracting the seed can be a process unto itself," he said. "If we have a mild chile, we just do it in the lab. But for the super-hots, like Trinidad Moruga Scorpion or Bhut Jolokia, we have to put on protective suits, masks and goggles to extract the seeds from the pods. The pungency of those chiles just overwhelms the laboratory."

One variety that will be available next year from the Chile Pepper Institute is NuMex Sandia Select. It was originally grown as a red chile, which typically has a thin wall. To make it work as a green chile, researchers selected plants for a thicker fruit wall. Then they began replicating trials to ensure the chiles were statistically better.

"Sometimes there is a hybridization process," Bosland said. "There, we use pollen from two different parents to develop offspring with new traits. The fastest time to finish from the first hybridization to releasing it to the public is five years; normally it takes a decade. It's a very long process. We're making hybridizations today that farmers won't see for a decade."

The institute will ship seeds to anywhere in the country and proceeds from seed sales fund future chile pepper research. The institute now sells 50 different varieties of rare and unusual seeds, not to mention the NuMex varieties, which were developed at NMSU.

 

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