An update on the western pecan weevil insect, how farming is adapting to city standards and a discussion on the roots of pecan trees will be among the presentations at this year’s annual Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show March 4-6.
“Dona Ana County is the largest pecan-producing county in the nation, so there’s a greater concentration here than any other county in the country,” said Richard Heerema, New Mexico State University’s pecan specialist. “El Paso County also is the largest producing pecan county in Texas and one of the largest in the nation as well. It’s a very important crop for us locally and statewide – it is the top crop in the state.”
The conference and trade show will be hosted at Hotel Encanto, 705 S. Telshor Boulevard, with events beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 4, with a sponsored conference reception for attendees. Parking at the hotel is limited to hotel guests and vendors, but limited overflow parking can be found at the Mesilla Valley Mall where a shuttle will bring guests back and forth to the conference.
Heerema is the organizer of the conference’s educational program that will be on Monday and Tuesday. The program will include 17 presentations by experts from NMSU, the University of California, Texas A&M and the University of Arizona along with representatives from the American Pecan Council and U.S. Pecan Growers Council.
“We try to get a range of speakers who cover a lot of different topics and areas. We want to include some basic research, so we have some research presentations that will be presenting cutting-edge research that is happening in the pecan industry,” Heerema said, “including Professor Astrid Volder from the University of California, Davis who will talk about root biology. She studies how roots grow underground and that’s exciting because it is the least understood part of the tree.”
Along with the educational programs a trade show takes place both inside and outside of the hotel. Vendors are changed every year to make sure there’s a variety of items and equipment being sold.
“We’re going to have harvesters and equipment for picking pecans off the ground along with some bigger and longer tree shakers. We are also going to have some pretty large sprayers that hold about 1,000 gallons of spray material and it’s a runoff of the tractor’s power unit, so they can do the orchard spray in a relatively short amount of time,” said John M. White, director of the Western Pecan Growers Association.
A baking contest will also be held the first day of the conference. The contest is from 9 a.m. to noon, there is no cost to enter and prize money will be awarded for different categories.
For full information on the baking contest and a copy of the conference’s agenda, visit westernpecan.org or contact White directly at 575-640-7555 or [email protected]. Interested individuals and groups can register at the door with discounted rates offered for groups.me