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by the formula BI = plant height (cm) × stem diameter (mm), as given by Hatchell et al. (1985) . Germination rate (%) was calculated by dividing the number of seedlings germinated by total number of seeds sown. The plant strength was calculated using the formula given by Maskina et al. (1984) , i.e., the plant strength equals the dry weight of the seedling (g) divided by the height of the seedling (cm). The seedling vigor index (SVI) was calculated using the formula SVI = germination % × seedling length (cm) ( Abdul-Baki & Anderson 1973 ). Dry weight of the

ABSTRACT

The feasibility of extending the storability of fresh hot pepper seeds, by modifying the storage atmosphere, using the respiration inhibitors and seed desiccants was examined. Halogens such as chlorine, bromine and iodine and methanol, ethanol and potassium permanganate were used for a period of 22 months under accelerated ageing conditions of high seed moisture and temperature. The various seed quality parameters - viability, vigour, speed of germination, seedling dry weight, and moisture content were evaluated. In the untreated control, decreased seed viability was observed within 10 months of storage. However, iodine and chlorine were proved effective in retaining high seed viability up to 90.7 and 88.0%, respectively, even after 22 months of storage. Chlorine treatment was able to retain the seed vigour (904.0), iodine (766.4), KMnO4 (754.4) and methanol (566.7) whereas the value of vigour index in control was 72.0. Chlorine and iodine were on par in their ability to maintain the speed of seed germination (25.2 and 24.8, respectively), followed by KMnO4 (20.2). Seedling dry weight was proved as a parameter not sensitive in estimating the seed quality since even after 22 months storage of seeds at atmospheres of chlorine, iodine, KMnO4 and methanol did not show any differences. KMnO4 sharply reduced the seed moisture content from 9.83 to 7.89% providing better storability over the control.