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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU to host jujube tree workshop, fruit tasting at Alcalde

ALCALDE, N.M. - There's another bumper crop of Chinese dates on the jujube trees at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde. The trees haven't missed a crop yet.

With the jujube harvest getting close, NMSU fruit specialist Shengrui Yao will host a free field tour and fruit-tasting session at the Alcalde farm during a workshop on jujube flowering and fruiting from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. The workshop is limited to 50 participants. To register, call Augusta or Melissa at 505-852-4241.

Yao is conducting a cultivar trial at the Alcalde science center. The jujube tree, which has grown in Yao's native country of China for more than 4,000 years, is proving to be a successful crop for New Mexico.

"With its late bloom and its wide adaptation to soil and weather conditions, jujube is a reliable crop every year," she said, "and with its highly nutritious fruit, it would be a great fruit tree crop for commercial growers and home gardeners in New Mexico."

Yao said since she joined NMSU in 2010, the jujube trees have not missed a crop. "This year there is another heavy crop of fruit at the Alcalde orchard."

At the present time only four or five cultivars are commercially available. In 2011, Yao expanded the Alcalde orchard with 30 cultivars that were imported directly from China. While the plants are still under USDA quarantine this year, the trees have started producing fruit.

"Some of the cultivars are very impressive," Yao said. "Hopefully several years from now we will have more cultivar recommendations for growers."

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will fund the jujube research through a three-year USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

"These funds are giving the raising of jujubes in New Mexico a big step forward," Yao said. "We plan to establish cultivar trials at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, as well as expanding the study at Alcalde."