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NMSU to host 2012 Western Pecan Growers Association Conference and Trade Show

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service will host and co-sponsor the 2012 Western Pecan Growers Association Conference and Trade Show Sunday through Tuesday, March 4-6, at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces. This will mark the 46th year the organization, which represents growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas, has sponsored the event.

Pecan trees ready for harvest with mountains in background
Pecan trees in a research orchard are ready for harvest at NMSU's Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center south of Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Jay A. Rodman)

According to Olivia Carver, the association's deputy director, the event is typically attended by 200-300 people from the region, elsewhere in the U.S., and even from other countries.

The trade show component kicks off Sunday at noon and goes until 5 p.m., then runs in tandem with the educational program on subsequent days. It will feature about 70 vendors.

"The vendors will address a wide spectrum of pecan production, harvest and marketing, including plant nutrition, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals; various types of equipment; nursery trees; well drilling; and crop insurance," Carver said.

Richard Heerema, NMSU pecan specialist, is the organizer of the conference's educational program, which takes place Monday and Tuesday. The program includes more than a dozen presentations by researchers from universities and the USDA, as well as industry representatives.

Topics range from plant basics, such as pruning branches, providing essential nutrients, and maintaining root health, to the impact of drought on ground water quality, the use and application of herbicides and pesticides, and economic and marketing analysis.

Of special interest will be a presentation on the newly developed Lipan cultivar, recently released by the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The final session will be a grower's panel on the topic of weed control.

A popular feature of the conference is the annual Pecan Food Fantasy contest, which takes place on Sunday. Participants are invited to enter home-made, pecan-containing foods in a number of categories, from appetizers and breads to pecan pie and several other dessert varieties. All hand-delivered entries must be submitted for judging between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. that day.

Ribbons and cash prizes will be awarded to the top winners. Samples of the entries and the award results will be on display Monday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The event is being organized by Gayla Weaver of the Dona Ana County Extension office.

In addition to the educational program, trade show and baking contest, the program includes a Sunday welcome reception from 4-6 p.m. at the Azul Bar in the Hotel Encanto, as well as a Monday social hour at 6:15 p.m., immediately followed by the 7 p.m. banquet and awards ceremony.

Continuing education credits will be offered by Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces is located at 705 S. Telshor Blvd. in Las Cruces.

For full information about the conference or to register and pay online, visit www.westernpecan.org. Note that registration fees will increase after Feb. 17 and that online registration closes after Feb. 25. Interested parties can also contact Olivia Carver directly at 575-640-7798 or oliviakcarver@gmail.com.