The pepper is a plant whose botanical origin is located in South America, specifically in the Peru-Bolivia area.

It is a plant cultivated since very ancient times, which Christopher Columbus found and brought to Spain on his third trip in 1493, thinking of the red pepper as a possible substitute for black pepper. 

Traditionally, pepper for pimentón has been grown on the best soil in the La Vera region, spreading from there to other irrigated areas to the north of Cáceres, such as the natural regions of Campo Arañuelo, and the Ambroz and Alagón valleys.

The total area of the zone is 364,590.32 ha.

The total arable land of the territorial zone protected by the Protected Designation of Origin ‘Pimentón de la Vera’, is 57,567.28 ha.

 

In general, the soil comes from rocks of a granite type, giving an endorheic drainage network, formed by silt deposits. 

The climate is Continental-Mediterranean with slight Atlantic aspects, with a dry season in the summer, gentle and mild winters (the average minimum temperatures in the coldest month, January, is no less than 1ºC) and temperate, warm summers.

The mountain system covering the whole northern province acts as a screen, limiting the penetration of storms and cold air from the northern front.

Rio Tiétar
Río Tietar (Wikipedia)

The high annual sunshine hours, favoured by its latitude, becomes a decisively significant factor, raising the average temperatures and giving hot, dry summers. The average altitude is not very high, and has an inclination to the west that allows the temperate Atlantic winds to enter, which means a winter that is not severe.

The average altitude, which is not very high, together with the inclination towards the west, facilitates the entry of temperate Atlantic winds, making winters less severe.

Hydrographically, the cultivation zone is the Tajo basin, and is dominated by tributaries from the right-hand bank of this river. These tributaries are the Tiétar, which flows through the rift that separates La Vera from Campo Arañuelo, the Alagón, which crosses the Sistema Central and gathers the water from the Béjar, Tormantos, Las Hurdes and Gata mountain ranges, through their tributaries such as Ambroz, Arrago and Jerte. All these have high quality water, without the problem of salt, ideal for irrigating horticultural varieties, and especially for pepper, being a plant that is very sensitive to salinity.

The wood from the Holm and Corn oaks comes from pruning, wood fall and general production in the upper woodland and provides a supply source that is essential for drying the peppers for pimentón in this area.

When the crop was first planted in La Vera, the cultivation area was quite small and the farms were simple.

The increase in irrigated land led to larger farms which used the system of share farming or tenant farming, a system where the owner divided his land into plots and distributed these among different tenant farmers, who cultivated them with the help of their families. In the best cases, the rewards were split evenly between the owner and the tenant.

In the best cases, the rewards were split evenly between the owner and the tenant.

Many were the changes in the last quarter of the 20th century in the agricultural sector of La Vera. The most significant change was the disappearance of rental agriculture.

Following the almost total disappearance of this system in the eighties, the most common is now direct farming, both in the case of small and large landowners. Currently, many farms are managed or advised by qualified technicians.

In recent years, the farms have been modernised, employing specialised agricultural machinery, tractors, transplanters, sprinkler and localised irrigation and seedbeds on floating trays, to produce a plant of the highest quality and capacity to take root in the prepared land, etc.

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