The Western Pecan Growers Association and co-sponsor NMSU will host the 56th Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show March 8-10 in Las Cruces at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave.
Cotton root rot and an update on the pecan weevil infestations will be among the presentations. The Western Pecan Growers Association represents pecan growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and the west Texas area.
In 2021, the Western Pecan Growers Association conducted a four-part zoom webinar series in lieu of the conference. Western Pecan Grower Association Director John White said he is excited for the return of the in-person event.
“Growers like to do more face-to-face activities, so this year we have that opportunity. Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout,” White said. “The conference is a big thing for people to be able to talk to the vendors, to other growers, to university people, to marketing people and so it’s kind of a one-stop shop. People really loved it for that reason.”
Richard Heerema, NMSU pecan specialist, is the organizer of the conference’s educational program.
“This year, we have pest management presentations that will be of special interest to pecan producers in the west,” Heerema said. “Speakers from the New Mexico and Texas Departments of Agriculture will be talking about pecan insect pests, and Alex Hu from the University of Arizona will address the topic cotton root rot in pecans.”
There will be continuing education units for those holding pesticide applicators licenses in Arizona and New Mexico. The program also will consist of presentations pertaining to the pecan industry in Texas and Argentina, the supply chain distributions by Jay Lillywhite, NMSU Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economicsprofessor and department head, and results of a zinc nutrition collaborative research project involving University of Arizona and NMSU faculty.
The event will kick off Tuesday, March 8 with the baking contest, Pecan Food Fantasy Contest. Winners will receive a cash prize along with being featured on the Pecan Food Fantasy Blog. Following will be activities such as a cornhole tournament and the indoor exhibition starting at 1 p.m. The welcome reception and beer garden will commence at 4 p.m. with live music performed by Chris Baker.
Wednesday, March 9 will consist of the presentations, a Mesilla-style lunch with live music and exhibits prior to a marketing panel from 4 to 5 p.m. with Alex Ott from the American Pecan Council. The panel will include four speakers from across the nation to speak about the current and future pecan market. Social hour will be held from 6 to 7 p.m., and the Western Pecan Growers Association banquet, auction and awards will be held from 7 to 10 p.m.
The event will conclude at noon Thursday, March 10 with vendor presentations, a new feature this year, and the Western Pecan Growers Association general meeting.
Due to the limited parking at the Las Cruces Convention Center, overflow parking will be available at Lot 3 across from Skeen Hall, 2916 Knox St.
The Western Pecan Growers Association also offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students with interest in the pecan industry. Scholarship awards can range from $500 to $2,500.
Author: Nicole E. Drake