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NMSU experts provide guidance at Western Pecan Growers conference, trade show

An update on the proposed pecan marketing order, tips for success in doing business in China and a look at mechanical pruning techniques will be among the presentations at the annual Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show March 1-3 in Las Cruces.

Pecans growing in an orchard
Pecans, shown here in an orchard at NMSU’s Leyendecker Plant Science Center south of Las Cruces, will be the subject of much discussion at the annual Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show March 2-4 in Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

“Pecans are very important, especially to Dona Ana County,” said John White, director of the association. “The western pecan is a superior pecan to others sold in the international markets. We need to continue to build those international markets and it is important that our growers are knowledgeable on these marketing practices.”

The statewide pecan crop makes up a significant percentage of the agricultural economic activity each year in New Mexico.

New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service will host the 2015 Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show at Hotel Encanto, 705 S. Telshor Blvd. Parking is limited around the hotel and overflow parking can use the Mesilla Valley Mall designated parking area and take the hotel shuttle to the hotel and back.

This will mark the 49th year the association, which represents growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas, has sponsored the event. NMSU is a co-sponsor.

The annual event attracts about 500 people from the region, elsewhere in the U.S., and even from other countries. The trade show runs from noon-5 p.m. Sunday, March 1, then continues during the educational program Monday and Tuesday, March 2-3. It will feature about 70 vendors.

The popular annual Pecan Food Fantasy baking contest will also take place on Sunday.

Richard Heerema, NMSU pecan specialist, is the organizer of the conference’s educational program Monday and Tuesday. The program includes 17 presentations by NMSU experts, experts from other universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as representatives from the pecan industry.

Topics such as pre-emergence herbicides, interpreting soil and water analysis reports, the Australian pecan industry and lessons of the almond, walnut and pistachio industries will be presented.

Heerema will present a step-by-step guide to orchard diagnoses as well as techniques in mechanical harvesting. NMSU wildlife biologist Jennifer Frey will speak on “Eastern Fox Squirrels in the West”; NMSU Extension agronomy specialist Robert Flynn will discuss soil amendments; and Brad Lewis, research entomologist for NMSU and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, will give a presentation on insecticides.

Heather Salopek, marketing specialist for U.S. Pecans of Tifton, Georgia, will present “Pecan Marketing Efforts and Grower-Based Programs: U.S. Pecans, National Pecan Council.”

In addition to the educational program, trade show and baking contest, the program includes a Sunday welcome reception from 4-6 p.m. at the Azul Bar in the Hotel Encanto, as well as a Monday social hour at 6 p.m., immediately followed by the 7 p.m. banquet and awards ceremony. Continuing Education Credits will be offered by Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to attendees.

Presentations from several previous conferences are archived at http://aces.nmsu.edu/ces/pecans/pecan-management.html.

For full information about the 2015 conference or to register and pay online, visit www.westernpecan.org. This year all conference registration is either online or at the door. Online registration closes after Feb. 25. Interested parties can also contact White directly at 575-640-7555 or director@westernpecan.org.