Pepper breeders make controlled crosses between plants in order to combine genes of interest, and with a little practice you too can make your own crosses.
Step 1. Select the flower bud.
Select a flower bud that has not opened. A pepper flower has both male (stamens, consisting of anther and filament)
and female (pistil) reproductive organs. Selecting an unopened flower bud reduces the chance for self-pollination.
Step 2. Open the flower bud.
Using forceps or tweezers, carefully remove the petals from the flower bud to expose the reproductive organs.
Step 3. Emasculate the flower.
The male parts of the flower are composed of anthers attached to small filaments. Pollen is produced in the anther. In order to prevent self-pollination, the anthers must be removed. Remove them, but be sure to leave the central pistil in place.
Step 4. Collect pollen.
Collect pollen from the open flower of another pepper plant. A small paintbrush or a bee stick can be used to collect and transfer the pollen.
Step 5. Pollinate the flower.
Transfer the pollen to the tip (stigma) of the pistil.
Step 6. Label the cross.
Label the cross so that it may be identified as the fruit matures. The fruit will look like all the other fruit on the plant because the cross resides in the growing seeds, not in this year’s pod shape.
After the fruit ripens, harvest the seed and plant it as you would any seed. Remember to label the cross in the garden. You will be able to see the results of your cross as the seeds grow into mature plants.
Editor’s Note: There’s a lot more good information for you on a variety of pepper topics in Peppers of the World, available here.