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NMSU to host jujube tree workshop, fruit tasting at Dona Ana County Extension office

Las Cruces and southern New Mexico fruit growers, have you heard about the jujube fruit and wondered how it tastes?


You will have an opportunity to taste the fruit, commonly called Chinese date, and learn about the tree's growing and its fruiting habits during a free workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at the Dona Ana County Extension office, 530 N. Church Street, Las Cruces.

"We have had increasing inquiries from the southern part of the state, so I decided to host a jujube workshop and fruit-tasting session at the Las Cruces Extension office. I will discuss all the basics about growing jujubes," said Shengrui Yao, New Mexico State University fruit specialist. "Anyone who has jujube trees is invited to share fruit samples during the workshop."

The workshop will be limited to 30 participants. To register call the Dona Ana County Extension office at 575-525-6649.

Yao is conducting a cultivar trial at NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde. The jujube tree, which has grown in Yao's native country of China for more than 4,000 years, is proving to be a successful crop for New Mexico.

"With its late bloom and its wide adaptation to soil and weather conditions, jujube is a reliable crop every year," she said, "and with its highly nutritious fruit, it would be a great fruit tree crop for commercial growers and home gardeners in New Mexico."

Yao said since she joined NMSU in 2010, the jujube trees have not missed a crop. "This year there is another heavy crop of fruit at the Alcalde orchard."

At the present time only four or five cultivars are commercially available. In 2011, Yao expanded the Alcalde orchard with 30 cultivars that were imported directly from China. While the plants are still under USDA quarantine this year, the trees have started producing fruit.

"Some of the cultivars are very impressive," Yao said. "Hopefully several years from now we will have more cultivar recommendations for growers."

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will fund the jujube research through a three-year USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

"These funds are giving the raising of jujubes in New Mexico a big step forward," Yao said. "We plan to establish cultivar trials at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, as well as expanding the study at Alcalde."