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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU hosts lavender field day at Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde

ALCALDE, N.M. - New Mexico is becoming recognized internationally as a premier source of high-quality lavender essential oil and other lavender products. To help the commercial industry find solutions to various crop problems, research has been conducted at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde.

Lavender lovers enjoy a day of picking fresh blossoms at the Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center during the lavender day activities in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. This annual event is an example of the agri-tourism opportunities available to lavender growers. NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde will host a lavender field day on June 17 for growers and the general public to view the research trial fields and learn of ways the industry can expand in New Mexico. (NMSU Photo by Charles Martin)

"Since our first lavender research trials began in 2002, the commercial lavender industry has grown significantly. More New Mexico growers are realizing that this state has excellent growing conditions for lavender," said Charles Martin, NMSU agricultural specialist and principle herb researcher at Alcalde. "They also are appreciating the potential of lavender as a specialty crop for its value-added products, as well as through such features as agritourism and u-pick operations that help to tie in to the state's tourism industry and strengthen the local economy."

While the industry has grown in New Mexico, growers have reported problems with winter die-back due to the extremes between daytime and nighttime temperatures. Consequently, this problem has become a research priority at Alcalde.

"A new round of field trials is focusing on finding or developing hardy lavender varieties for the northern New Mexico growing region that can withstand sever winters, brutal spring winds and extreme fluctuations in temperatures," Martin said. "We are now ready to invite the commercial growers and the public to come see what we are doing at the experiment station."

The NMSU Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde will hold a Lavender Field Day beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 17. Tours of the lavender variety trial and research plots will be held from 8:45 to 10:30 a.m., followed by presentations on insect pest management and starting a lavender growers association, and a grower discussion panel from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

"The field day is meant to update growers on the latest findings of this research, which was made possible by generous contributions and assistance from Penny and Armin Rembe of Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and David Salman of Santa Fe Greenhouse," Martin said. The field day itself is funded through a Specialty Crops Marketing grant from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Jone Keif of New Mexico Lavender of Las Cruces is an additional sponsor of the event.

Lavender growers have also reported crop damage in some years from grasshopper infestations. Carol Sutherland, New Mexico's state entomologist, will offer advice on ways to deal with this and other insect pests that may be troublesome to lavender growers.

"It also helps to have growers learn from the successes and challenges faced by fellow commercial lavender entrepreneurs," Martin said the of two grower presentations.

Consequently, Lavender Association of Western Colorado member Kathy Kimbrough will discuss how to start a lavender growers association. Penny and Armin Rembee, along with Joan Kief, will hold a grower discussion panel.

The registration fee is $20, which includes lunch. Pre-registration is encouraged to ensure an accurate meal count for lunch. A check or money order may be made payable to NMSU and mailed to the Alcalde science center, attention Charles Martin at P.O. Box 159, Alcalde, NM , 87511.

For more information contact Charles Martin at (505) 852-4241 or email him at cmartin@nmsu.edu.