LOS LUNAS — Fall is right around the corner. Soon the sweet smell of New Mexicans favorite vegetable roasting will be in the air.
As chile pepper enthusiasts are using their last 2017 chile to make room in the freezer for this year’s harvest, New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will host a free field day on Friday, Aug. 24, at its Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, 1036 Miller St. SW.
Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with the field tour beginning at 8 a.m. Visitors to the field day are asked to pre-register online at rsvp.nmsu.edu/rsvp/chilefielday to help the organizers to provide the free lunch.
“The field day has something for everyone, from commercial growers to gardeners who appreciate the ornamental chile plant for its beauty,” said Stephanie Walker, NMSU Extension vegetable specialist and chile pepper researcher.
As the trolley makes its way around the experimental farm, visitors will learn about:
• Research in weed management in chile fields from Brian Schutte, NMSU assistant professor in weed physiology
• Key insect pests and how to manage them from Ashley Bennett, NMSU Extension small urban farm integrated pest management specialist
• Recent research on green chile harvest mechanization from Walker, including seeing a machine harvest demonstration.
• New Mexico landrace chile from Chuck Havlik, senior research assistant at Los Lunas.
• Investigation of methods for season extension for chile plants from Havlik.
• Using ornamental chile plants in landscaping from Marisa Thompson, NMSU Extension horticulturalist.
• The many different varieties of chile peppers from Walker.
The tour will conclude with a green chile pepper roasting demonstration.
A free lunch will be served at noon following the field tour.
New to this year’s field day will be three educational seminars from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
“The chile growers in the Middle Rio Grande Valley have asked for some educational seminars about pest and disease management, as well as marketing of their harvest,” said Walker.
Walker will present a session about some of the common chile pepper diseases and disorders that are found in New Mexico and the best preventive management strategies.
Anita Rodriguez, NMSU graduate student, will present marketing options and methods to give both small or large acreage farmers an edge in the retail environment.
Ray Johnson, with New Mexico Department of Agriculture, will talk about the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act and compliance within the act.