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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center Invites Public to Open Field Day

LOS LUNAS - Gardeners, growers and others can learn firsthand about native grasses, alfalfa and grape variety trials, a tiny wasp that feeds on pine tip moths and much more during a free, public field day Aug. 14 at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas.

"It's a great opportunity for people to come look at the research projects underway here," said Mike English, center superintendent.

The 202-acre NMSU facility, which also houses the U.S. Department of Agriculture's New Mexico Plant Materials Center, is conducting dozens of research projects.

Hayride tours will highlight grass and forage trials, including a new study of some 40 turfgrasses to determine water requirements, aesthetics for landscaping purposes, durability and management, English said.

Researchers will discuss alfalfa varieties and alternative forages such as Max Q fescue and new sorghum and sudan grass hybrids, he said. They will also talk about xeric, riparian and mountain plants the center has reproduced for reclamation projects, such as reseeding fire-damaged zones and mining sites.

"These are vigorous growing native plants that we've studied and are reproducing to make seed available to the public," he said. "We'll discuss some new commercial releases, such as cane bluestem and bottlebrush squirreltail."

Another highlight is the center's grape variety trial, begun in 1998 as a joint undertaking with the New Mexico Wine & Vine Society. The center is testing 12 varieties--including grapes from New York, Missouri and Canada that are new to New Mexico--to determine winter hardiness, yield, quality, disease and insect problems.

"This is the first season the half-acre plot produced enough grapes to allow the Wine & Vine Society members to start making some wines," English said.

The center will unveil a new study to control pine tip moths with parasitic wasps imported from Georgia and Arkansas. Researchers released about 100 wasps in June and July on Scotch, Afghan, Austrian and piņon pine trees grown at the center.

"The wasps over deposit their eggs on pine tip moth larvae and when the wasps hatch they feed on the moth larvae," English said. "We want to get these wasps established to help control pine tip moth infestations around the state."

Other indoor and outdoor demonstrations will cover foot care for horses, erosion control along riversides, food preparation tips for people with diabetes and easy ways to make refrigerated pickles. Master gardeners will also staff an information booth and plant clinic to answer gardeners' questions about diseases and insects.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Tours and demonstrations are from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., followed by a complimentary lunch and speakers from NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please call English at (505) 865-7340.