|The New Mexican-type chile is an important ingredient in the Southwestern food industry. Chiles have grown from a regional food for families, tourists to an important international export. Improvement of New Mexican chile cultivars through breeding is a major thrust at New Mexico State University (NMSU). New Mexico has the longest continuous program of chile improvement in the world.
The chile improvement program began in 1888 with Dr. Fabian Garcia. All New Mexican-type chiles grown today gained their genetic base from cultivars first developed at NMSU. Historically, the most important cultivar is ‘New Mexico NO. 9.’ In 1913, Dr. Garcia released the ‘New Mexico No.9.’ This cultivar was important historically, not only because it was the first chile cultivar released from NMSU, but also because it introduced a new pod type—‘New Mexican’—to the world.
Selecting for the New Mexican pods began in 1894 when Dr. Garcia began improving the local chile varieties grown by Hispanic gardeners around Las Cruces, NM. Today, the New Mexican pod type is also called long green or ‘Anaheim.’ Actually, the pod type is New Mexican, and chiles like ‘NuMex Big Jim’ and ‘Anaheim’ are cultivars within this pod type. ‘Anaheim’ seed originated in New Mexico and was taken to Anaheim, CA, where it was widely cultivated among other pepper varieties grown there.
Chile’s most recognizable trait is heat. Each New Mexico chile variety developed has its own characteristics including pungency, size & flavor. Information provided by NMSU’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics.
The most popular and widely used long green chile varieties developed by NMSU include: