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Extension pistachio workshop in Otero County to address federal marketing order

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. - Experts from New Mexico State University will talk about how to combat fungus that can grow on nut crops and how to protect crops from the cold at the annual Pistachio Growers Workshop March 18 at the Cooperative Extension Service office in Alamogordo.



At the Pistachio Growers Workshop March 18 in Alamogordo, participants will learn tools to combat navel orangeworm and aflatoxins as well as how to protect their crop from the cold. (Photo courtesy of Richard Heerema)

"This workshop will be especially beneficial to pistachio growers, but the information on cold protection in orchards and the Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, session will be pertinent to anyone growing fruit and nut trees and to those marketing agricultural products to the public," said Beth Gordon, agricultural agent for the Otero County Extension office.

One topic sure to grab growers' attention is information about the federal marketing order for pistachios that sets standards for testing crops for aflatoxins and for certification of crops that are aflatoxin-free. Aflatoxins are compounds produced by a fungus that can grow on a variety of crops such as cereals, sorghum, rice, wheat, oilseeds, ginger and pistachios. They are carcinogenic to humans. Bob Klein, director of research for the California Pistachio Commission, will discuss the recent marketing order regulating aflatoxin testing in pistachios as well as environmental factors that favor the prevalence of aflatoxins in nut crops.

Navel orangeworm, an insect pest of fruits and nuts, has been a problem for California growers since the 1940s and has found its way to New Mexico. Because the insect can cause serious damage to a pistachio grower's crop and neighboring pistachio crops if left untreated, the insect is of economic importance to all pistachio growers in New Mexico. Carol Sutherland, an NMSU entomologist, will talk about the effect of navel orangeworm on pistachios, how to identify the insects and the damage they cause, and how to manage them.

The workshop will start at 9 a.m. with a brief welcome and introduction by Gordon, followed by a talk about how to protect pistachios from the cold by Richard Heerema, an NMSU pecan and pistachio specialist.

Natalie Goldberg, NMSU plant pathologist and interim plant science department head, will discuss the correct protocol for collecting and submitting plants for disease testing.

Nancy Flores, an Extension food technology specialist, will talk about the GAPs program, which teaches growers about proper food safety when processing crops as well as the requirements for selling crops at farmer's markets.

The workshop is March 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Otero County Cooperative Extension Service office. Participants must preregister for the workshop by March 7, as space is limited. The fee to attend is $20 and includes lunch. A check or money order and the registration form can be mailed to the Otero County Cooperative Extension Service office, 401 Fairgrounds Road, Alamogordo, N.M., 88310.

For more information about the workshop and to obtain a copy of the registration form or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service, contact Gordon before the workshop at (575) 437-0231 or egordon@nmsu.edu.