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Tucumcari Agricultural Science Center To Hold Open House August 10

TUCUMCARI - Area growers can get an update on irrigated pasture research and see results of a Quay County hay quality study during a field day August 10 at the Tucumcari Agricultural Science Center.

The center, a branch of New Mexico State University's Agricultural Experiment Station, will offer free public tours. Registration begins at 9 a.m.

"We think we have an interesting research program and would be glad to show the public exactly what we're doing," said Rex Kirksey, center superintendent.

For 20 years, Tucumcari has earned a reputation as New Mexico's headquarters for research on using irrigated pastures for livestock grazing. Recent trials have focused on tall wheat-grass, Bermuda grass, old world bluestem and mixed species plantings of alfalfa and tall wheat-grass.

"We've been collecting data on animal performance, forage yields, in terms of what tonnages those grasses are producing, and also information about their nutritive value," Kirksey said. "This year, we hope to spend a good part of our discussion talking about management systems that come close to getting some year-round grazing out of those pastures."

Another main attraction at the field day will be results of an ongoing alfalfa hay quality study in Quay County. John

Mayernak, science center agronomist, and Jeff Bader, Quay County Extension Agent, are collaborating on the project.

So far, the study shows local growers are producing premium hay. "In fact, our results have been so outstanding that it's been hard for some growers to believe," Bader said. "We hope the results can help them sell hay on the basis of quality so that they can get a premium price. We believe it can also help attract interest from the dairy industry."

Other stops along the tour include: windbreak establishment techniques for semi-arid regions of New Mexico. John Harrington, tree physiologist and superintendent of NMSU's Mora Research Center, will talk about using rototilling, no-till methods and plastic weed barrier mulches when planting trees.Seed priming in chile. Anne Carter, vegetable physiologist at the Clovis Agricultural Science Center, will discuss her research to help chile emerge more quickly.

Gamagrass evaluations. Mayernak and James Henson, an agronomist and grass breeder with NMSU's Plant Materials Center in Los Lunas, will talk about their evaluations of various strains of gamagrass. For more information about the field day, call Kirksey at (505) 460-1621.