'Early Jalapeno' had the highest emergence percentage at 81 percent. 'NuMex Sweet' and P.I. 140375 also finished in the top three performers for saline tolerance, with emergence percentages of more than 70 percent.

In the future, Bosland said he would like to look at inheritance of the salt tolerance trait in chile plants and developing cultivars that are salt tolerant.

Call, Bosland and Ulery also collaborated on a study with faculty members from Texas A&M University, titled "Responses of Eight Chile Peppers to Saline Water Irrigation." This study found that NMCA 10652 and 'Early Jalapeno' were the most saline-tolerant chile varieties.

"It is becoming increasingly important to look at saline conditions and water use, especially considering recent changes in water distribution and drought," Ulery said. "We don't know the future or when it is going to get better, but in the meantime we can prepare and use varieties that can handle less water or lower quality water while still maintaining quality of fruit."

Ulery and Bosland said because chile is such an important crop in New Mexico, they hope local farmers will be able to use such research findings to continue to produce healthy crops even in difficult growing conditions.