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Pena Blanca Sunflowers project to hold planning meeting Feb. 11

PENA BLANCA, N.M. - It may be the middle of winter, but it's time for Pena Blanca Sunflowers growers to start planning for this year's season.

Organizers of the project will review the results of last year's season during a workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at the Pena Blanca Community Center.

Following a chicken dinner sponsored by the Pena Blanca Sunflowers, a presentation about the project's first year's yield and the importance of crop rotation will be made by New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agents Steve Lucero from Sandoval County and Del Jimenez from NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde.

"Farmers in the area should come to listen to what we have to say about improving their land's productivity," Jimenez said. "We want to work with the farmers to develop specific improvement plans for their land. One aspect of that plan is to establish a rotation plan with alternative crops. Sunflowers is one of the crops we are encouraging them to plant when they are resting their land from raising alfalfa."

The 2012 sunflower season was a learning experience for the farmers who joined the project last year. They now understand what it takes to raise a productive crop.

"You always have to have a first year when you begin a new crop project," Jimenez said. "Last year we accomplished introducing the concept of raising sunflowers to the community, including having a successful sunflower festival in August."

Following the presentations, growers will have an opportunity to join Pena Blanca Sunflowers by committing an amount of land to be planted in sunflowers.

For more information about Pena Blanca Sunflowers visit www.oilgrowers.blogspot.com.