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NMSU Valencia County Extension office to host third annual forage growers workshop

LOS LUNAS, N.M. - Growing forage in the Middle Rio Grande Valley is big business.

Farmers in Bernalillo, Valencia and Socorro counties generate $17.7 million in cash receipts annually raising hay, according to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture's 2009 agricultural statistics book.

At the third annual forage growers workshop Dec. 2, New Mexico State University Extension specialists will provide scientific, research-based information to help farmers meet the challenges they face during the ongoing drought.

The workshop is hosted by the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service and NMSU's Small Farm and Ranch Task Force.

"The goal of the annual workshop is to provide local hay growers timely and practical information that may lead to management decisions that promote lowering costs while maintaining healthy fields, quality forage products and higher yields," said Kyle Tator, Valencia County Extension agricultural agent. "Hay growers in the Middle Rio Grande Valley face a variety of management challenges each year. This workshop is geared to address these issues."

Mark Marsalis, Extension agronomist at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center in Clovis, will discuss such options in his presentation titled "Making the Most of Your Water and Late-planted Hay Options."

Other presentation topics will include soil health in irrigated forage systems, weed control in alfalfa, insect identification and control in forage crops, alfalfa management for pest control, permanent pasture management, and boom spray calibration. In addition, information from local agricultural agencies and businesses will be available at vendor booths.

"This workshop is also an opportunity for growers to learn about USDA programs for agricultural producers," Tator said. "Pearl Armijo of the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Los Lunas and Lisa Garay of the Farm Service Agency in Valencia and Cibola counties will update the growers on their agencies' programs."

Growers wishing to obtain continuing education units for recertification of their NMDA private pesticide applicator license may earn five units by attending the entire day.

The workshop will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus, 280 La Entrada Road, Los Lunas. Registration for participants seeking continuing education units begins at 7 a.m.

Participants are asked to pre-register for the free workshop by calling the Valencia County Extension office at 505-565-3002. Lunch will be provided for a $5 donation.