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New Mexico State University

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NMSU offers annual onion field day for New Mexico producers July 18

Onions are one of New Mexico's most important row crops, and the earliest to be harvested. Although summer officially arrived only a week ago, early season onions have already been harvested in Southern New Mexico, and peak onion season is well along.


Woman holding a microphone and an image of insect pests stands in front of a poster.
Carol Sutherland, extension entomologist in NMSU's Department of Extension Plant Sciences, discusses insect pests that threaten onions at NMSU's 2011 onion field day. The 2012 event will be held July 18 at the university's Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center south of Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Jay A. Rodman)

Onion producers are invited to reap the benefits of New Mexico State University's onion research initiatives at the university's annual onion field day, 8-11 a.m. Wednesday, July 18, at NMSU's 200-acre Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center south of Las Cruces.

Steve Loring, associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, will provide the welcoming address for the event.

This year's onion field day is sponsored by NMSU's Plant and Environmental Sciences and Extension Plant Sciences departments and the Leyendecker science center. The event will be co-hosted by the Dona Ana County Extension office, with Dona Ana County Master Gardeners assisting.

Stephanie Walker, NMSU vegetable specialist and an assistant professor in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences, is the organizer of this year's event.

"Although New Mexico may be more famous for chile production, onions are also a premier vegetable crop in the state," Walker said. "New Mexican onions are unsurpassed in quality."

"NMSU researchers have a long history of working in concert with onion growers," she said. "The onion industry in New Mexico has been strengthened through the release of many new varieties from NMSU's breeding program that are adapted to local growing conditions, fill harvest windows, and provide resistance to bolting and common onion diseases."

NMSU's development of new varieties is complemented by its research on improved cultivation practices and strategies for dealing with various threats to a healthy crop.

A number of NMSU researchers will be featured at the field day:

Chris Cramer, professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, will give an update on NMSU's onion breeding program and provide the latest information about managing iris yellow spot virus. Colleague Mark Uchanski, an assistant professor in PES, will discuss the New Mexico portion of the multistate Onion Integrated Pest Management Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education project (also known as the Onion PIPE project) that is creating an online information system to distribute timely information to onion growers.

Carol Sutherland, extension entomologist in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences, will talk about insect pests that threaten onions. Maury Craig, a science specialist in EPS, will explain

the IR-4 project for registering safe and effective pesticides. Ray Pierce, a senior research assistant in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, will provide additional information about insect pest control for growers in the Southwest.

Some presentations will take place near the science center headquarters, while others will be offered in the researchers' nearby onion test plots.

The Leyendecker Plant Science Center is eight miles south of the Las Cruces campus between NM Highway 28 and the Rio Grande. From the NMSU campus, travel west on University Avenue to Highway 28. Turn left on Highway 28 and head south to Snow Road. Turn left on Snow Road and proceed approximately one mile. Turn right on Leyendecker Road and proceed to the main office (follow the signs) to attend the field day.

The event is free and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact Stephanie Walker at 575-646-4398 or swalker@nmsu.edu.

To learn more about the Leyendecker Plant Science Center, go to http://leyendeckersc.nmsu.edu/index.html.

For more about NMSU's onion breeding program, go to http://onion.nmsu.edu/.