The February meeting and speaker of the High Tech Consortium (HTC) of Southern New Mexico will be on the 27th of February [Wednesday], from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Arrowhead Center [located at 3655 Research Drive, Genesis Center, Building C, on the campus of New Mexico State University]. Free to attend.

This month’s speaker will be Dr. Stephanie J. Walker, the Extension Vegetable Specialist at New Mexico State University. Dr. Walker concentrates on supporting commercial vegetable growers and related industries in enhancing sustainability and profitability of vegetable production in New Mexico. The speaker topic: RESEARCH PROGRESS TOWARDS MECHANICAL HARVEST OF NEW MEXICO POD-TYPE GREEN CHILE.

New Mexico pod-type green chile (Capsicum annuum L.) is a celebrated specialty crop that is rooted in the 1913 release of ‘New Mexico No. 9’ by Fabian Garcia, the first Director of the NM Agricultural Experiment Station at the NM School of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now New Mexico State University). From planting to harvest, NM green chile is labor- intensive crop. The limited supply and expense of domestic labor threaten the long-term viability of the industry. A transition to mechanized production systems is critical to support and sustain commercial processing of the crop.

Past research by NMSU includes the development of a mechanical thinner to reduce reliance on hand labor when direct-seeded fields are thinned to the optimum number of chile plants. Additional short- and intermediate-term research efforts have focused on identifying harvesting equipment, production practices, chile cultivars and plant attributes for best mechanical harvest efficiency. Long-term efforts involve selective breeding to develop new cultivars more efficient for mechanical harvest. Finally, private companies have developed mechanical methods to remove chile pepper stems (pedicels), an operation that is critical to NM green chile mechanical harvest. 

HTC membership meetings are open to the public. Anyone interested in growing technology in southern New Mexico is encouraged to attend. There is no charge for attending. For more information please call the HTC President, Dr. Ed Pines, at 575-646-2730, or Terry Jack 720-201-7344.

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