Bet you didn't know these facts about New Mexico chiles...

Our Chiles

Sandia, Originally released as Sandia A
Dr Roy Harper released this cultivar in 1956. it is a cross between New Mexico No. 9 and Anaheim. 1,500-2000 SHU.
NuMex Big Jim
Dr. Nakayama released this cultivar in 1975. Big Jim's are sometimes referred to as the Russian Roulette of Long Green Chile. The SHU's can vary widely between plants in the same crop. 1,000 - 2,000 SHU.
NuMex Joe E. Parker
Released in 1990 and is named after Mr Joe E. parker of Las Cruces, New Mexico. 800-900 SHU

Chile Facts

  • Chile has been grown in New Mexico for at least four centuries. It's said that Don Juan de Oñate grew chiles.
  • The three major pod types grown in New Mexico are New Mexican, Cayenne, and Jalapeño.
  • The most common pod type grown in the United States is the Bell Pepper.
  • Anaheim seed originated in New Mexico and was taken to California.
  • The word "Paprika" means "Chile" in Hungarian.
  • Chile is normally planted in the Mesilla Valley between March 1st and April 1st.
  • Between 2 and 10 lbs of chile seed is planted per acre.
  • The seeds are planted about one inch deep.
  • The row widths are 30 to 40 inches.
  • The green crop will be ready for harvest in about 120 days, at the begening of August.
  • The red crop will take about 165 days, ready in early October prior to the first frost.
  • The plants are thinned resulting in one plant every 10 to 12 inches.
  • Chile is a shallow rooted crop and uses about 5 acre feet of water during its life time.
  • A good harvest of Long Green Chile is about 17 tons per acre.
  • When the Long Green Chile turns red and is harvested and dried, it results in about 3,500 lbs per acre.

Chilo's Dictionary

BTT (Blind Taste Test):
Invented by locals for their "friends" new to the Mesilla Valley. (See Taster)
Capsaicin:
One of the alkaloids in chile that makes it hot.
Capsaicinoids:
One of the groups of alkaloids in chile that makes it hot.
Capsicum:
The genus name for chiles. Genus capsicum is a member of the solanaceae family that includes tomato, potato, tobacco, and petunia.
Chile (with an 'e', not an 'i'):
Anything consisting of the capsicum plant or the fruit from the plant.
Chili (with an 'i'):
A culinary dish consisting of red chile powder and ground beef. Chili does not contain beans.
NuMex:
Indicates a chile was developed at New Mexico State University.
Pungency:
The heat of chiles.
SHU (Scoville Heat Unit):
A measure of chile pungency named after Wilbur Scoville, based on the dilution of chile samples until heat is no longer detected by a "Taster".
Taster:
A person new to the Mesilla Valley.
TOT (Test Osterone Test):
AKA the "Mucho Macho" or "Poco Loco Test"; used to verify length of resedency in the Mesilla Valley - or sanity.

Dr. Fabian Garcia:

The Patron of New Mexico Chile.

Dr. Garcia developed "New Mexico No. 9" and released it in 1913, (Garcia 1921). New Mexico No. 9 is a cross breed of Mexican pesilla and chile pepper Colorado. This was important historically because it was the first chile cultivar released from New Mexico State University, and it introduced a new pod type, "New Mexico", to the world. Pungency of "New Mexico No. 9" is estimated to have been around 1,000-1,500 Scoville Heat Units.

Today the New Mexico pod type is also called Long Green and is now a 400+ million dollar industry in New Mexico.

New Mexico State University has the longest continuous program of chile improvement in the world. All "New Mexican" type chiles grown today gained their genetic base from cultivars developed at NMSU.

Born in 1871 in Chihuahua, Mexico. Died August 6, 1948 in New Mexico. Dr. Garcia's grandmother brought him to New Mexico as a child. Dr. Garcia was known to be astute with finances and had the reputation of a gentleman. He willed his estate to NMSU with a directve that the funds where to be used to educate poor youths, as he knew their plight.

Pungency Chart

ChileSHU
Bhut Jolokia1,001,304
Orange Habanero210,000
Red Habanero150,000
Tabasco120,000
Thai Hot60,000
Jalapeno M25,000
Cayenne23,000
Pasilla5,500
Jalapeno4,000
Sandia2,000
NuMex Big Jim1,500
NuMex Joe E Parker800

The above list is a ball park example. Scoville Heat Units can vary widely (in a class as well as between the different varieties).

For example, Jalapenos can vary between 4,000 SHU and 50,000 SHU. Pasilla can be pleasantly mild.

The pungency levels are a result of two factors; the plant's genetics and the environment in which it grows. The ambient temperature and the amount of water the plant receives during it's life are factors