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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Annual Pecan Conference Focuses on Improved Marketing

LAS CRUCES - Traditional themes of improved pecan marketing and orchard management, along with updates on rising economic concerns about crop insurance and air quality regulations will be the focus of this year's 37th annual Western Pecan Growers Association Conference March 2-4 at the Hilton Las Cruces.



New Mexico's huge pecan industry is rolling toward a new growing season. But before many of those new buds break, growers will turn to the state's experts for an marketing update and research overview at the 37th annual Western Pecan Growers Association Conference March 2-4 at the Hilton Las Cruces. (01/17/2003) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"This is one of the top pecan conferences in the country," said John White, Doņa Ana County horticulture agent with NMSU Extension. "It comes a great time of the year with growers just finishing their harvests and starting preparations for the upcoming season."

More than 700 pecan industry growers, processors and scientists are expected to attend the annual conference, said Esteban Herrera, conference coordinator and emeritus horticulturist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

During the event, two separate pecan grower panels will cover pecan marketing alternatives, nontraditional markets and marketing of lower quality pecans, he said. Pecan growers can also take part in contests, educational workshops and one of the nation's leading pecan equipment shows.

The trade show kicks off this year's conference March 2 with booths from companies specializing in pecan machinery, equipment, chemicals and fertilizers.

Later in the day, a pecan food fantasy contest, a competition for pecan-based goodies such as pies, cakes and candies, will also be held. Awards include a $250 prize for best traditional pecan pie. All contest categories are due March 2, between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. For more information on the pecan food fantasy contest, contact Karin Davidson at (505) 526-3949 or Gayla Weaver at (505) 525-6649.

Educational workshops begin the morning of March 3, and include topics such as a pecan weevil update, an integrated pest management report and review of pecan versus hickory nut production. Other discussions include managing cotton root rot and controlling black aphids. Afternoon sessions are highlighted by a review of pecan marketing statistics and a discussion on improved pecan marketing.

The following day, the conference turns to an update on the sixth year of southern New Mexico's pecan revenue insurance program, which guarantees a level of income based on the grower's historical production revenue. "We're still in the pilot stage of this program, but it's been very successful so far," said Kelly Pope, assistant vice president of insurance services at Farm Credit of New Mexico.

Meanwhile, state experts will attempt to clear up questions about a new state air quality agricultural initiative that targets southern New Mexico's pecan growers. The region's pecan growers have lately come under fire from government officials because of smoke that is produced during the burning of pruned limbs.

Rita Trujillo, a conference speaker and a control strategy section manager with the New Mexico Environment Department, plans to form a working group aimed at meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional haze rule concerning agricultural smoke.

Other talks will address formation of pistillate flowers in pecans and a review of pecan grading techniques. All presentations will be simultaneously translated from English to Spanish, Herrera said.

In addition, the International Pecan Show, a nut sample competition, will take place during the conference. 'Western' and 'Wichita' varieties, improved varieties, known hybrid seedlings and natives will be judged, with a $100 prize awarded for best overall sample. International pecan show entries must be received by Feb. 7.

Registration for the conference is $70 per family or sole proprietor prior to Feb. 17. After that, it's $80. For more information or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Herrera at (505) 646-2921 or herrera@nmsu.edu before the event.