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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NM Growers to Go North for Specialty Crop Tours

LAS CRUCES -- Tours of specialty crop farms and an elk ranch will be hosted by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service and the Colorado Cooperative Extension Service on July 6 in Colorado's San Luis Valley.

"The San Luis Valley is very similar to many valleys here in northern New Mexico," said George Dickerson, NMSU Extension horticulture specialist. "We have a lot of growers with small acreages and they need to look at specialty high-value crops on these small farm in order to gain a better profitability per acre."

The tour will be conducted in personal vehicles and participants are being asked to bring their own sack lunches.

The tour will begin at the San Luis Valley Research Center. Hosts Richard Zink, Merlin Dillon and others will give participants an update on research at the Center, including work with potatoes, rapeseed, canola and green manure crops to control nematodes and verticillium wilt.

One of the stops on the tour is an organic tomato greenhouse operation being run by Ed Harmond, who consulted on the organic certification program in New Mexico. The greenhouse is unique because the plants are grown using naturally heated geothermal water and nutrient solution instead of soil.

Organizers plan to have a brown bag lunch at the greenhouse and then view organically grown specialty crops on the Ernie New Farm. New markets his produce through a community-supported agricultural marketing system and also assisted with New Mexico's organic certification program.

Other stops on the tour include a wildflower seed farm and an elk ranch where horns are harvested for medicinal purposes.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. at the San Luis Valley Research Center, approximately nine miles north of Monte Vista, Colorado, on Highway 285. Turn right on Nine Mile Road and the Center will be on the immediate left. The tour is free.

For more information about the tour, contact Dickerson at (505) 275-2576.

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in this event, please call the contact person for the event two weeks in advance.