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This study was carried out during the two summer seasons of 2014 and 2015 on pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cv. California Wonder. The goals of this investigation were enhancing either the speed of pepper seeds germination or its percentage, produce healthy seedlings, vigour growth and improve fruit yield and its quality by using moringa leaf extract (MLE). The concentrations used of MLE extract were 2% - 4% - 6% in addition to 0% (tap water) as control. The moringa extract was added through two methods i.e., seed soaking treatment for 3 and 6 hours before planting the nursery and as plant foliar spray either on the seedlings during nursery stage or after transplanting in the open field . The obtained results indicated that moringa leaf extract at 4% concentration as seed soaking for 6 hours stimulated germination percentage, rate, index as well as coefficient of germination velocity. Moreover, the same concentration (4%) of MLE as a foliar spray on pepper seedlings in the nursery was sufficient to support all seedlings parameters expressed as height, fresh and dray weight, number of leaves and leaf area. Moreover, the maximum plant growth parameters as well as superior early and total fruit yield were obtained from the same treatment. Furthermore, MLE at concentration of 4% increased average fruit weight, length and diameter as well as fruit chemical contents such as carbohydrate, ascorbic acid and both of K and Ca elements. For that it can recommend that soaking pepper seeds in moringa leaf extract solution at concentrate of 4% for 6h for enhancing the germination percentage and seedling characteristics as well as spraying the seedling and pepper plants with 4% MLE solution to obtain superior fruit yield with best quality.
1.1 Background to the Study
Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) is considering an important fruit vegetable crop belong to family Solanaceae which remembered since more than 6000 years ago (Perry et al., 2007). It is the second most important vegetable in the world after tomato for internal consumption and for export. Pepper fruit is rich in vitamins A and C and contain appreciable quantities of proteins and minerals Temu and Temu (2005) and Olaniyi and Ojetayo (2010). Pepper seed germination is considered a critical step in the development cycle of the plant, germination rate and seedling growth in pepper plants are very low comparing with the other vegetable seedlings. (Korkmaz and Korkmaz, 2009). Different pre- treatments have been investigated to improving rate of pepper seeds germination and seedling growth, some of these treatments are chemical and others are natural product such as moringa leaf extracts (Wien, 1997). Moringa oleifera are belonges to family Moringaceae which it is consider the most widly tropical trees. (Foidl et al., 2001 and Shahzad et al., 2013). The moringa leaf extract (MLE) is consider as a natural plant growth regulator where, it is a source of zeatin which it is natural derivative of cytokinin, proteins, vitamins E, phenolics, ascorbates, essential amino acid and several mineral elements, making to putting it as a potential natural growth stimulant, as mentiond by Emongor (2012), Rady et al. (2013), Howladar (2014) and Rady et al. (2015). Other reports have been showed that moringa extract play as a plant hormone which enhances seed germination, growth and yield of crops. MLE foliar spray improved crop performance, resulting from its role on vigorous plant growth, maintained optimum tissue water status, improved membranes stability, enhanced antioxidant content, as mentioned by Anwar and Bhanger (2003), Nagar et al. (2006) Yasmeen et al. (2012), Yasmeen et al. (2013) and Rehman et al. (2014). Many investigators reported that the effective concentrations of MLE were differing according to plants type. However, Phiri and Mbewe (2010) revealed that moringa leaf extract at concentration of (1:10) was forced beans to germinate early and increased duration to first germination by100%, also increased germination percentage of cowpea while the same concentration lead to reduction in groundnut germination seed. They added also that, this reduction may be attributed to that MLE contain an inhibitory substance for groundnut seed germination. Moreover, Basra (2011) illustrated that MLE at concentration of (1:30) was the most effective concentration for causing higher emergence rate and better early seedling growth of spring maize. Furthermore, the rate of cowpea seed germination was decreased with the increase concentration of MLE as reported by Moktar et al. (2012). Also, Muhammad (2015) reported that moringa leaf extract at 5% was encouraged cowpea rate germination and final germination percentage followed by concentration of 2%. Culver et al. (2012) found that moringa extract significantly increased tomato average fruit weight and plant height as well as yield and its components. Muhammad et al. (2013) found that tomato plant height, plant dry weight and fruit yield were significantly affected with aqueous moringa extract. Also, Bashir et al. (2014) revealed that moringa leaf extract significantly increased the average plant height, leaves number, number of branches and yield of tomato plant. Oluwagbenga and Odeghe (2015) mentioned that sweet bell pepper plant height; number of leaves, fruit weight and yield were significantly influenced by the application of moringa leaf extract. Aluko (2016) reported that the highest values of pepper plant growth and yield parameters were obtained with MLE foliar application at concentration of (1:20).
The aim of this investigation was to enhancing germination percentage of pepper seeds and reducing the period of seed germination, as well as obtaining vigour seedlings, improving fruit yield characterized with the best quality by using natural extract of Moringa oleifera leaves as seed soaking or foliar spray.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Diseases and insect pests are the major limiting factors in the production of high quality agricultural products (Pervin et al., 2012). Insect pest cause about 35-40% yield loss in vegetables and this may reach up to 60-70% in most favorable condition (Umeh et al., 2002). Vegetable farmers use a wide range of pesticide at different levels to reduce damages caused by pest and diseases, as a result of which vegetable cultivation has 5 become more expensive due to the increasing use of purchased inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers to sustain production levels.
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