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Goal of regional hay, forage conference to educate, assist farmers

RUIDOSO, N.M. - Pest management and advances in biotechnology will highlight the New Mexico Hay Association's Southwest Hay and Forage Conference in Ruidoso, Jan. 15-16.

"Each year, various pests in the form of insects, weeds and diseases cost New Mexico hay growers millions of dollars. It is important that growers understand the pests that they are dealing with and the management options that are available to them," said Mark Marsalis, Cooperative Extension Service agronomist with New Mexico State University. "As pesticide and fertilizer costs remain high, it is imperative that producers limit inputs as much as possible in order to increase profit margins."

"This year, the conference will focus on these pest issues along with the new biotech traits that can help alleviate costs associated with pest control," he said.

Topics on the agenda include the latest in biotechnology of alfalfa and corn; maximizing production; weed management; and corn and sorghum crops for silage. An irrigation session will feature presentations on system efficiency and the water issues that growers are currently facing and will likely face in the future. In addition, New Mexico Department of Agriculture will give an update on the latest rules and regulations associated with pesticide applications and reporting.

The association's Board of Directors understands the increase in silage production and dairy involvement in New Mexico, Marsalis said, and wants to assist farmers with education on silage production and related topics as well as hay production, since in many parts of the state, farmers focus on both in their cropping rotations.

The two-day conference will have a large machinery trade show, featuring the latest in farm equipment, as well as booths with various alfalfa and forage-related products, two sponsored meals, women's interest sessions involving crafts and entrepreneurships, a social hour and entertainment by Waddie Mitchell, a cowboy poet and storyteller.

"The conference is always a great opportunity for farmers to improve their vocation, as well as visit with their across-state counterparts, and we welcome out-of-state producers and end users from all over the Southwest," said Justin Boswell, executive director for the hay association.

The event has been approved for five New Mexico Pesticide Applicator continuing education units (CEU's). Texas Pesticide Applicator CEU's have been applied for as well.

The conference starts Jan. 15, at 9 a.m., at the Ruidoso Convention Center. Pre-registration is $55 per person. After Jan. 5, registration costs $65. Attendees can register at the door for $65.

For more information on the Southwest Hay and Forage Conference, visit www.nmhay.com, or contact Gina Sterrett at nmhay@yahoo.com or by phone at (575) 626-5677, or Justin Boswell at (575) 840-9908 or juboswel@yahoo.com. For a copy of the registration form, contact Sterrett. Booth space is still available.

Marsalis also may be contacted at (575) 985-2292 or marsalis@nmsu.edu.