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NMSU Cooperative Extension Service assists with pecan weevil identification, education

The New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service is working with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to identify pecan weevil ? and pecan weevil damaged nuts ? and to educate the public in eastern New Mexico, where the pest has affected some pecan trees in residential areas and commercial orchards.


NMSU Extension Plant Sciences Entomologists Jane Pierce and Carol Sutherland, along with NMSU county Extension agents, have been very involved in identification of pecan weevils and weevil larvae damage to nuts. NMSU Extension specialists and staff have also developed and disseminated educational material and have assisted with on-site visits.

A fact sheet titled ?Pecan Weevil: Wanted DEAD, Not Alive? is available on the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences website at http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR683.pdf. The fact sheet describes pecan weevil, its life cycle and the many problems it creates for New Mexico pecan producers, from backyard to large-scale commercial growers.

While pecan weevil adults will not emerge from the soil until later in the summer, people who suspect pecan weevil in their pecan trees should contact their local county CES office:

- Eddy County: Woods Houghton, 575-887-6595, whoughto@nmsu.edu
- Lea County: Wayne Cox, 575-396-2819, hwcox@nmsu.edu
- Chaves County: Sandra Barraza 575-622-3210, sbarraza@nmsu.edu
- Curry County: Patrick Kircher (Roosevelt CES) 575-356-4417, pkircher@nmsu.edu

CES agents will continue to take calls from both the public and pecan producers in their counties and have disseminated information about this economically significant pest. The agents will continue to do this for the next several years as the pecan weevil infestation eventually is eradicated by NMDA.

NMSU Extension specialists and staff have worked closely with the NMDA to develop quarantine guidelines and to provide basic information about the pest (http://www.nmda.nmsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/21.17.36-NMAC-3.27.2017-AMENDED.pdf). If this information does not answer your questions, please call your CES office listed above, as your agent is aware of the situation in your respective county.

Sutherland is responsible for confirming the presence or evidence of pecan weevil in nut samples submitted to CES agents, as well as those collected by NMDA inspectors from the public and commercial orchards in those communities affected by the quarantine. Pierce is based at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Artesia and was able to make site visits to some of the affected areas, and she worked closely with the NMDA inspector responsible for the affected counties. The Agricultural Science Center at Artesia produced a poster used by Extension agents and NMDA to help the public identify this pest. Pierce is also developing a research program based out of the Agricultural Science Center at Artesia to support eradication and control efforts.

Everyone involved responded quickly and shared their findings, permitting rapid and targeted response to this serious problem.

Sutherland said now that it is April, the 2016 crop should be long gone.

?The 2016 nut crop should be cracked and cleaned, frozen or consumed by now,? she said. ?Pecan weevil adults emerge from deep in the soil mid-to-late summer but are not easily noticed, being very shy and well-camouflaged. If anyone in the public or the pecan industry thinks they see an adult pecan weevil this coming summer, capture it intact and immediately submit it to your county agent for confirmation.?

Sutherland also said the public will be more likely to see damaged nuts or possibly larvae.

?Pecan weevil larvae ? creamy white, multi-segmented, legless creatures with reddish brown head capsules ? won?t be seen again until the 2017 crop of pecan nuts is mature and ready for harvest,? she said. ?Mature pecan weevil larvae will bore a BB-size hole through the woody shell prior to their escape. If the public, pecan producers or nut processors see anything out of the ordinary in their 2017 crop ? a large snout beetle, a white legless grub inside a nut or a BB-sized emergence hold in the nut shuck or shell ? they should collect and freeze this evidence immediately and report it to their county Extension agent.?

Pierce said while there have been surveys to detect pecan weevil this past season, some infestations may have gone undetected, particularly in residential areas.

?The weevil can only be eradicated if infested trees are identified,? she said. ?To help in this effort, growers and homeowners are encouraged to be vigilant about examining nuts as they are harvested this fall.?

Sutherland made it clear that nobody involved wants to have that threat of infestation ? or establishment ? in New Mexico at all.

?Pecan weevil is not known to be established in New Mexico, and we want to keep it that way,? she said. ?Prompt and aggressive response to this invasive creature is of paramount importance to our state?s pecan industry. A team approach involving producers at all levels, regulatory personnel from New Mexico Department of Agriculture and expertise from Cooperative Extension Service faculty is essential for getting the problem under control, plus planning and execution of eradication measures.?

Pierce agreed.

?It?s very worrisome,? she said. ?Growers are well aware of the problem, but most homeowners haven?t heard about pecan weevil at all and don?t understand the importance of not moving unshelled pecans from their quarantined areas. People love to share nuts with friends and relatives who sometimes throw the bad nuts in the backyard for birds to eat, not understanding that this could spread pecan weevil into their backyard trees.?