Hot pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) is an irrigated, high value cash crop. Irrigation requirements can be estimated following a FAO crop factor approach, using information on basal crop coefficients (Kcb), crop coefficients (Kc) and duration of crop growth stages. However, this information is lacking for hot pepper cultivars
differing in growth habit and length of growing season under South African conditions. Detailed weather, soil and crop data were collected from three field trials conducted in the 2004/05 growing season. A canopy-cover based procedure was used to determine FAO Kcb values and growth periods for different growth stages. A simple
soil water balance equation was used to estimate the ETc and Kc values of cultivar Long Slim. In addition, initial and maximum rooting depth and plant heights were determined. A database was generated containing Kcb and Kc values, growing period duration, rooting depth, and crop height for different hot pepper cultivars, from which the seasonal water requirements were determined. The length of different growth stages and the
corresponding Kcb values were cultivar and growing condition dependent. The database can be used to estimate Kcb and Kc values for new hot pepper cultivars from canopy characteristics. The Soil Water Balance (SWB) model predicted the soil water deficits to field capacity and fractional canopy cover well, using the FAO crop factor approach.