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New Mexico Cotton Growers To Meet in Ruidoso Jan. 28

LAS CRUCES - With a long, hot summer on the horizon, New Mexico cotton farmers expect little rain and greater reliance on ground and river water. That troubling forecast has moved water and nutrient management to the top of the agenda at the annual New Mexico Cotton Growers Conference Jan. 28 at the Ruidoso Convention Center.

The success of next fall's cotton harvest will depend, in part, on how well New Mexico producers optimize water and nutrient management in the face of prolonged drought. New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service and the New Mexico Cotton Growers Association will highlight research and production updates at the 8th Annual Cotton Conference Jan. 28 at the Ruidoso Convention Center. (01/20/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"A lot of farmers are asking themselves, 'What can I grow this year with the least amount of water?' and for many that turns out to be cotton,'" said La Mesa farmer Bobby Sloan, president of the New Mexico Cotton Growers Association. "Prices have been up, but this year water allotments are going to be down."

Cotton is one of the few crops that can withstand limited irrigation and still produce a quality crop, said Denise McWilliams, an agronomist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "It also does well with some of our state's more saline waters," she said.

The conference's goal is to provide New Mexico cotton producers with the information they will need to maximize yields with minimal amount of water and nutrients, McWilliams said.

Sponsored by NMSU Extension and the cotton growers association, the daylong program at the convention center at 107 Sierra Blanca Drive in Ruidoso will feature presentations from Extension specialists, researchers and industry leaders. Registration for the meeting is $15 prior to Jan. 27. After that, it's $20.

The morning session will be highlighted by an update on expected water supplies from the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID) and Pecos Irrigation District by Gary Esslinger, EBID manager.

Other attractions include a review of cotton breeding research by Jinfa Zhang, head of NMSU's cotton breeding program and former researcher leader with Monsanto's molecular cotton breeding program in Greenville, Miss. John White, Doņa Ana County Extension horticulture agent, will discuss trends and new cotton production options.

During the afternoon, agronomist Robert Flynn with NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Artesia will discuss increasing cotton fertility, while Mark Renz, Extension weed specialist, reviews weed control techniques. Sherry Sanderson, bureau chief of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture's entomology bureau, will discuss state's ongoing program to eradicate pink bollworm.

Other talks will address cotton pricing, new seed varieties, planting trends and defoliant management. Crop insurance and insect control options will also be reviewed.

For more information or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Mary Curtis at (505) 646-1715 or marycurt@nmsu.edu before the event.