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NMSU Valencia County Extension to host noxious weed workshop

LOS LUNAS, N.M. - It takes a community to fight an infestation of noxious weeds. Only through a coordinated effort can these villains that threaten agricultural production be managed.

The first step in controlling noxious weeds is to gain an understanding of the concerns and issues associated with the various plants.

Residents of Valencia County are being called to arms, or at least spray applicators, during a noxious weed workshop hosted by New Mexico State University's Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service on Friday, March 30.

The free workshop will be from 8 a.m.-noon at the UNM-Valencia Campus Student Community Center, 280 La Entrada Road, Los Lunas.

"Representatives of several agencies involved in fighting noxious weeds in the county will be present to discuss the various aspects of preventing and controlling noxious weeds," said Kyle Tator, NMSU Valencia County Extension agricultural agent. "The workshop is a collaboration between Valencia County Extension, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - Los Lunas field office, and Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District.

Noxious weeds have been a problem in Valencia County for quite a while, according to Jim Wanstall, NMDA state noxious weed coordinator.

"Over the last 10 years the issues have spread and grown away from the irrigation ditches, which have been a conduit for the weeds' seeds to move through the area," Wanstall said.

The primary noxious weed flourishing in the county is perennial pepperweed, Wanstall said, "but another species that is getting out of control is Russian knapweed. And there are other species on the state's noxious weed list that we haven't had to deal with until now."

During the workshop Yasmeen Najmi, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District planner, will report on the district's noxious week mapping project which plotted locations of various species of weeds along 400 miles of the district's irrigation and drainage ditches in Bernalillo and Valencia counties.

"The noxious weeds on the state list have become a focus of our very active weed management program," Najmi said. "Noxious weeds often have different and more complex management requirements than what we might be doing for normal weed management."

With the information gained from the mapping, MRGCD is establishing priorities that the weed mapping contractor suggested for management, including providing noxious weed and herbicide specific training to the district's weed management staff.

"During the mapping, the contractor, in places, noted that weed infestation extends into private land," Najmi said. "This information and increased outreach will help our partners assist private landowners to identify and concurrently treat noxious weeds on their properties to increase overall effectiveness."

During the workshop Greg Apler of Dow Chemical will provide similar information to county residents on how to identify the weeds and what herbicide will eliminate the plants.

Josh Brown, an NMSU graduate student studying bio-control agents to control Russian knapweed, will discuss his research. He is testing the effectiveness of gall midge in controlling the weed. The insect lays its eggs in the knapweed plant and then the hatched larvae destroy their host. Brown is seeking locations in Valencia County for test plots.

Representatives from the Claunch-Pinto and Edgewood soil and water conservation districts will also be present to discuss their districts' successful cooperative weed management area plans.

The workshop is free, and no pre-registration is necessary. Call 505-565-3002 for more information.