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NMSU pistachio workshop in Alamogordo to offer growers tips for healthy crops

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. - It has already been a tough season for some crop growers this year, with an unusual cold snap sweeping through the state in early February leaving many growers wondering about the fate of their crops.

At the Pistachio Growers Workshop March 14 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)

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service in Otero County is hosting a pistachio growers workshop to give growers the tools they need to maximize their production.

The March 14 workshop will be held at the Extension office in Alamogordo. Space is limited and participants are encouraged to make reservations by March 7.

"The topics chosen for this workshop are driven by the pistachio growers in the county," said Beth Gordon, agricultural agent for the Otero County Cooperative Extension Service. "We want to help growers increase their yield and maintain a high quality of crop while decreasing their workload."

At the workshop, Richard Heerema, an Extension pecan and pistachio specialist, will discuss blanking and non-splits in pistachios.

Natalie Goldberg, Extension plant pathologist, will discuss the most common diseases pistachios face.

Carol Sutherland, an Extension entomologist, will talk about stink bugs, conchuela stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs in pistachios prior to the 2010 harvest. She will also talk about how the "Big Chill" of 2011 might affect pests that are drawn to pistachios.

Bob Klein, director of research for the California Pistachio Commission, will give participants information on aflatoxins in pistachios as well as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

Robert Flynn, an Extension agronomist at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Artesia, will discuss soils in pistachio orchards and if it is better to disc regularly to increase water penetration and decrease weeds, or not disc and conserve soil aggregates.

Experts at the workshop will also discus navel orangeworm research in local orchards.

Carol Ruiz, program technician for the Otero Soil and Water Conservation District, will talk with participants about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Tree Assistance Program (TAP). TAP helps commercial growers replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged or destroyed by natural disasters.

Pesticide applicator Continuing Education Unit credits for this workshop are pending.

The workshop is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

There is a $20 registration fee for the workshop, which includes lunch. Participants can mail their registration forms, along with a check or money order, to the Otero County Cooperative Extension Service, 401 Fairgrounds Rd., Alamogordo, N.M., 88310.

For more information about the workshop, and to obtain a copy of the registration form, contact the Extension office at 575-437-0231 or e-mail Gordon at egordon@nmsu.edu.