Benefits and challenges with heavy rainfall for Borderland crops

CW39

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – With heavy rainfall in the borderland over the last two weeks, farmers are dealing with both benefits of the rain and challenges.

For New Mexico Pecan Farmer Greg Daviet the rain means a lot of money saved.

“Rain is always fantastic for farmers especially in the middle of a drought. Every quarter of an inch of rain is worth a thousand dollars to our operation and saved irrigation and a quarter of a million dollars to our region,” Greg Daviet the Farm Manager for Dixie Ranch in Las Cruces.

Daviet says he harvests his pecans in December and that all of the rain is going to help produce this year’s crop and allowing him to not pay for pumped water to irrigate his pecan trees.

“The predominant means irrigating in our region is flood irrigation when we have abundant surface water we use lots of river water to do our irrigation. When were in droughts like we are now we have to pump the water instead,” said Daviet.

He says pumping water is significantly more expensive than rain or surface irrigation.

While the rain is also good for New Mexico chili peppers, Stephanie Walker the Extension Vegetable Specialist at NMSU says rain that causes standing water in chili fields can be harmful.

“Chili peppers need a good amount of irrigation water so rain is good. The problem we have with chili peppers is if the roots stay waterlogged if the fields stay very, very wet for a long time the waterlogging will kill chili plants. We also have an infamous disease here called chili wilt,” said Walker.

Walker says New Mexico farmers have experienced losses of chili peppers in the past due to chili wilt and many farmers are prepared to combat standing water in their fields.

“Most of them before they ever put the first crop of chili in the ground will laser level their field with just enough slope so that any heavy precipitation will quickly drain off of the field,” said Walker.

Walker expects this year to be good for the chili pepper industry in New Mexico. He says the heat the region experienced earlier in the year did have the potential to set back the growth of the peppers but the recent cool down is helping.

“We had that serious hot spell that which under very hot conditions like what we had chili peppers won’t set fruit it’s too hot for the flowers to actually pollinate and set fruit. Thankfully that hot spell came in early enough that it didn’t really hurt our fruit set on our plants and now that’s it’s cooled off with all this rain the chili plants are setting fruit like crazy,” said Walker.

Joram Robbs the Executive Director of the New Mexico Chili Association says the current temperatures in New Mexico are great for chili peppers which will be harvested in the middle and some at the end of July.

“It’s really beneficial right now that it’s staying kind of 95 and below for most of the state because once it gets above 95 degrees the chili pepper plants will start to stress and it will start shutting down those growth periods. So staying 95 below is really great for them and this moisture is really great for them too,” said Joram Robbs the Executive Director of the New Mexico Chili Association.

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