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Craig To Lead IR-4 Testing Program for NMSU

LAS CRUCES - Maury Craig, a former lab coordinator for New Mexico State University's entomology, plant pathology and weed science department, will lead the university's IR-4 field research center for food crops.

IR-4 is a publicly funded program for pesticide and biopesticide registrations for minor crops. Because of the costs of testing and registering pesticides, companies often focus on developing products for corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton, leaving growers of other minor crops without effective pest control options.

IR-4 researchers grow crops, apply pesticide treatments and collect samples that are analyzed for pesticide residue. The data is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "The emphasis is on finding safer types of pesticides for a wide spectrum of crops, especially vegetables, fruits and nuts," Craig said.

Nationally, minor crops account for 40 percent of the total value of U.S. crops. More than 30 food crops are grown in New Mexico.

This season, trials at NMSU's Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center have focused on about 10 different crops, including peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and cantaloupes.

"We want to work with crops that are important to New Mexico producers," said Craig, who began work in mid-October. "We want to increase awareness of what we're doing and get input from growers."

Craig started at NMSU as a graduate assistant in 1985, working his way up to lab coordinator in 1998. Though he has been based at the Veterinary Entomology Research Laboratory, Craig has agronomic experience as supervisor for a row crop farm.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of something different and for the chance to run the program," Craig said. He holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife management from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in agricultural biology from NMSU.