Extension Plant Sciences

Archived Reports from 2014 - 2017


Image of Bernd Leinauer

Sep. 15

Dr. Bernd Leinauer, professor and Extension turfgrass specialist at New Mexico State University, was nominated and awarded by the American Society of Agronomy as a 2017 Fellow, the highest acknowledgement given in this field. Associates of the group search for and appoint collaborators who hold high standards of achievements and praiseworthy service that benefit the society as a whole. During his career, Leinauer has published 70 peer-reviewed publications, including a book chapter, and is co-editor of the book “Turfgrass Water Conservation.” Documented as an expert in strategies dealing with water management and reducing potable water usage on turfgrass, he holds leadership positions at the state, national and international levels. Leinauer also conducts research projects on cold and salt tolerant turfgrasses, irrigation system efficiency, and the use of subsurface irrigation for both recreational and landscape turfgrass areas. Leinauer will be awarded as an ASA Fellow at a ceremony held in Tampa, Florida, October 25.

Image of Field Day 2017

Aug. 18

On August 15, the Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center (ASC) held its biennial Field Day. The 2017 event was a special one in that it marked the 60th anniversary of the station. The ASC conducts agricultural and horticultural research and Extension programs specific to the Middle Rio Grande Valley and surrounding areas, including Albuquerque. Three new faculty were introduced to participants: Dr. Ashley Bennett, Extension IPM specialist; Dr. Gill Giese, Extension viticulture specialist; and Dr. Marisa Thompson, Extension horticulture specialist. These faculty, located at the Los Lunas ASC, represent critical stakeholder interests throughout the state. The event registered 263 attendees.

Image of Ranch Days

May 5

"Ranch Days" were held on April 25-26 at the McKeen Ranch just north of Glenwood. Since 1998 local ranchers, Hugh B. and Margie McKeen have hosted this agricultural outreach event for regional youth, inviting home-schools and classes from Animas, Silver City, Quemado, and other communities in this three county area. Various presenters demonstrated different skills and discussed ranching, farming, and basic survival on the land. Drs. Carol Sutherland and Leslie Beck, Extension Plant Sciences Department, brought displays and gave brief presentations on insects and weeds to 480 attendees. Dean Rolando Flores and associate dean for the Cooperative Extension Service, Jon Boren, attended the event and viewed all of the exhibits.

Apr. 21

The 2017 Western Pecan Growers Association Conference and Tradeshow was held at the Hotel Encanto on March 5-7. The popular Pecan Food Fantasy contest (held Sunday, March 5) was coordinated by the Doña Ana County Extension Office, while the educational program was coordinated by NMSU Extension Pecan Specialist Richard Heerema (Extension Plant Sciences). The opening address was presented by New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte and oral presentations were given by pecan industry representatives, as well as experts from the USDA and five universities. These presentations covered important topics for the pecan industry such as pollination, pecan weevil management, pressurized irrigation systems, plant growth regulators, and health benefits of eating pecans. The educational program concluded with an excellent growers panel discussion on the topic of mechanical hedge pruning. Overall registration for the 2017 conference was 777 people (a 10% increase compared with the 2016 registration). In the educational program there were over 300 people in attendance—with standing room only! Attendees came from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, Oklahoma, the southeastern US, northern Mexico, South Africa, and Australia.

Feb. 17

The Pesticide Safety Program in the Extension Plant Sciences Department just completed the 2016 - 2017 training series. Workshops held in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Clovis, Hobbs, and Farmington provided clientele with educational programming on the effective and environmentally sound use of pesticides. Certified applicators received information on new and emerging insect, disease and weed pests. Applicators who wished to become certified to apply pesticides received training in pesticide safety, pesticide laws and regulations, sprayer calibration, and general information in entomology, plant pathology, and weed science. This year the program recertified 365 current pesticide applicators and trained 158 new license holders.

Jan. 20

The 2017 Southwest Hay & Forage Conference was held January 11-13 in Ruidoso, New Mexico. The annual event is coordinated by the New Mexico Hay Association and NMSU's Extension Plant Sciences Department. Mark Marsalis, extension forage specialist, serves as the program coordinator of the conference. The conference, which includes a trade show, is intended to address the production and business needs of the hay, silage, and pasture farmers in New Mexico. Forages for livestock occupy the most acreage of any crop in the state, and alfalfa is consistently New Mexico's #1 cash crop. Attendees for this year's event included farmers, various agencies, and hay industries. Session topics included alternative forage crops and rotations, using brassicas as an alternative forage, Roundup Ready alfalfa management, hay preservatives and cutting management, workers compensation and safety, cutting costs in a down year, pesticide regulatory update, pasture and range insurance, forage weed label update, no-till forages, insect pests, and new sprayer and planter technologies. Dean Rolando Flores provided the opening keynote address.

The annual New Mexico Cotton Growers Conference was held on January 11, 2017, at the Ruidoso Convention Center. The single-day meeting featured several presentations from university researchers, consultants and representatives of different industries. Information related to cotton economics, cotton agronomy, glandless cotton, control of resistant weeds and variety trials were shared with New Mexico growers. About seventy participants attended the conference. The information shared will position New Mexico growers for a productive growing season. Cotton acreage in New Mexico is expected to increase slightly during the 2017 season.


Nov. 5

The 4th Western Pecan Production Short Course was held at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. Participants came from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, Chihuahua, and even as far away as Australia and South Africa. The program is coordinated by NMSU Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Richard Heerema. Lectures were presented by experts from New Mexico State University, University of Arizona, University of Georgia, and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the program is to give both new and experienced pecan growers an overview of all aspects of pecan production in arid and semi-arid regions. Lectures included orchard site selection, cultivar choice, and irrigation systems design to pest and disease management, orchard harvest, and nut marketing. This year's program included a presentation on the human health-promoting components of pecan nuts. Attendees had the opportunity to go on tours of local pecan shelling and cleaning plants, area orchards, and the NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center.

On October 31, Dean Rolando Flores, Associate Dean Jon Boren, and Extension Plant Sciences department head Dr. Natalie Goldberg attended a groundbreaking ceremony at Albuquerque's Paradise Meadows Park to start a turfgrass water conservation project with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, The Toro Co., and the City of Albuquerque's Parks and Recreation Department. During one week, Dr. Bernd Leinauer (Extension Plant Science) and his team, along with workers from the Parks and Rec Department, installed a subsurface drip irrigation system in one half of the park; the other half will keep an above-ground sprinkler system. Water usage for each system will be monitored over the next three years to determine whether a subsurface irrigation system is a water conserving alternative for a heavily-used public green space.

Oct. 22

Extension Plant Sciences Southwest Turfgrass Association’s Annual Recreational Landscape Conference and Expo was held at the Las Cruces Convention Center, October 25-27, 2016. This year’s conference featured a trade show and educational programs, and a field day at the NMSU Saline Irrigation Research Plots. Over 140 participants learned about effective water conservation management practices, how to produce quality turfgrass areas using saline and non-potable water sources, effective weed management strategies, sprayer calibration, and irrigation needs of turf and landscape plants. Two students received a scholarship from the Southwest Turfgrass Association: David Rodriguez Herrera, a senior majoring in Genetics in Plant and Environmental Sciences, and Laura Johnson, graduate student in Horticulture with Plant and Environmental Sciences.

April 16

On April 13th Elizabeth Smith, Vineyard Weather Specialist in CES-PS,hosted 35 Texas Tech Architect students and 4 professors, to teach soil transport and studies. The intention was for the students to learn about how soil and dust moves in our southwest environment for their design of a theoretical “Dust Institute.” The visitors received hands on learning of instruments the New Mexico Climate Center uses to study dust and toured the second floor Skeen Hall soils lab.

April 9

The 2016 Western Pecan Growers Association Conference and Tradeshow was held at the Hotel Encanto in March. The popular Pecan Food Fantasy contest was coordinated by the Dona Ana County Extension Office, while the educational program was coordinated by NMSU Extension Pecan Specialist Richard Heerema (Extension Plant Sciences). Oral presentations were given by pecan industry representatives, as well as experts from the USDA, INIFAP (the Mexican agricultural research agency), and five universities. An important theme of the conference program again this year was the proposed Federal Marketing order for pecans. Other presentations covered Pecan Bacterial Leaf Scorch, Pecan Weevil Management, irrigation scheduling, plant growth regulators, and wind machines. The educational program concluded with a growers' panel discussion of salinity, an increasingly concerning management issue in southwestern pecan orchards. The 708 participants came from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, Oklahoma, northern Mexico, and the southeastern U.S.

Feb. 6

New Mexico Chile Conference: The 39th annual conference, chaired and co-chaired by Paul Bosland and Stephanie Walker, was held on February 2 at the Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces. A diverse group of farmers, processors, researchers and other supporters of New Mexico’s signature crop convened to share information and learn the latest chile research results. More than 200 individuals participated, with some coming as far as South Korea and Israel to attend. Technology took center stage as information in using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for monitoring field health, and the latest advancements in mechanical harvest and destemming were presented. Other topics ranged from marketing, food safety, and pest and disease management to organic production of chile.

Jan 16

2016 Southwest Hay & Forage Conference: The 2016 Southwest Hay & Forage Conference was held January 14-15 in Ruidoso, NM. The annual event is coordinated by the New Mexico Hay Association and NMSU’s Extension Plant Sciences Department. Mark Marsalis, Extension Forage Specialist, serves as the program coordinator of the conference. Approximately 175 farmers and agency and industry representatives attended this year’s event. Session topics ranged from organic hay production, rodent and insect pest control, weed resistance, alfalfa planting and rotation management, livestock and hay markets, and an update about the newest pest in New Mexico: the Sugarcane Aphid. In addition, an informative panel session on agricultural water use and regional irrigation status joined presentations and comments from water managers of three of New Mexico’s water districts (Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Elephant Butte Irrigation District, and the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District).

Various Awards: The Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce presented Connie Moyers, Extension Home Economist, with the Warm Heart of the Sun Belt award. This award is given to “someone who goes over and above” the normal expectations. Connie has been a strong advocate and role model for the youth of Roosevelt County. Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County agricultural agent, was presented with the Workhorse of the Year Award. Patrick works with 4H youth and livestock judging, as well as serving as 4H leader for the Dora 4H club. He serves as co-coordinator of the largest progressive ag safety day in the United States. He works tirelessly helping the youth get their animals ready for events.


Nov. 21

Annual Southwest Turfgrass Conference: The annual Southwest Turfgrass Conference was held in Ruidoso from November 3 to 5. Approximately 200 participants from the turf and landscape industry in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Arizona attended the conference and listened to presentations on pest identification and control, irrigation water management, and golf course maintenance. The event was co-organized and co-sponsored by the Southwest Turfgrass Association and the Cooperative Extension Service. During the conference, the Association provided scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students at NMSU. This year’s recipients were Guillermo Alvarez (graduate student) and Steven Jarrett (undergraduate student) from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

April 17

Bernd Leinauer from the Extension Plant Sciences Department spent one and a half weeks in Beijing and Xiamen, China to present at the Asian Golf Show on golf course water conservation and to teach golf course maintenance to students from the Golf Institute at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The Chinese government will start regulating water use on golf courses on July 1, 2015 and the Golf Course Superintendents Organization of America which co-organized the Golf Show invited Dr. Leinauer to present some of their research findings on turf grass water conservation.

March 6

2015 Think Trees Conference: Natalie Goldberg, Extension Plant Pathologist and Department Head, presented an educational seminar at the 2015 Think Trees Conference. Think Trees New Mexico is a non-profit organization dedicated to promote education, training, and appreciation of arboriculture and horticulture throughout New Mexico and across the Southwest. The organization, with the support of the Bernalillo County Extension Service, organizes a two-day conference that provides education and training to over 300 greens industry professionals each year. Dr. Goldberg's presentation, "Diagnosing Tree Problems: A Step By Step Approach to Field Diagnostics," was designed to assist landscape professionals understand and develop a systematic approach to plant problem solving. Part of the presentation focused on understanding the differences between tree problems caused by environmental or cultural stress and those caused by infectious plant diseases. Participants were also taught how to collect a good plant specimen for disease diagnosis and how to submit samples to the NMSU Plant Diagnostic Laboratory through their local County Extension Agents.

Feb. 27

The NMSU Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, housed in the Extension Plant Sciences Department, hosted a National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) STAR-D (System for True, Accurate and Reliable Diagnostics) Auditor Training the week of February 23rd. The NPDN is a collective effort among Land Grant Universities, federal agencies, and state departments of agriculture, whose mission is to enhance agricultural security through the protection of plant health and productivity. The STAR-D program was designed to create and maintain a diagnostic laboratory accreditation process that enables the laboratories to follow similar requirements and standards striving to meet consistency, accuracy and timeliness of testing, documenting and reporting plant pests. The participants included the audit trainers (three NPDN STAR-D trainers and a professional International Standards Organization 17025 trainer) and ten auditor trainees from around the United States. The training consisted of three days of intensive classes and exercises for the trainees and a gap audit of the NMSU-Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. The gap audit serves as a preliminary review of the laboratory's quality management system which includes assessment of the facilities, equipment, personnel and procedures; and is the first step toward STAR-D accreditation.


Sept. 12

This past weekend, Specialists' from the Extension Plant Sciences Department in cooperation with County Extension Agents and Master Gardeners, conducted two "Plant Clinics" at Albuquerque Area Grower's Markets. On Saturday, the clinic was held at the Los Ranchos Grower's Market, and on Sunday, the clinic was held at the Corrales Grower's Market. Plant Clinics help to educate the community about proper horticultural practices, pest identification, and pest management, through an informal question and answer session. Specialists, Agents, and Master Gardeners were on hand to help people with specific gardening questions and pest identification requests. Insect boxes containing the 110 most common insects in New Mexico, biting and stinging pests, and arthropods that eat weeds, were displayed in the booth. The clinics drew good crowds with over 375 people stopping by to get their questions answered or to learn about the insects on display.

July 25

The Seventh Annual Squash Derby was held on Saturday, July 19, at the Silver City Farmer's Market. This collaboration between the Farmer's Market and the Cooperative Extension Service began 7 years ago when the Grant County Extension Program Director, Judy O'Loughlin, was asked to help create an event that would interest youth in the local Farmer's Market. The Squash Derby invites kids to the market to make derby cars from zucchini, Mexican gray squash, or yellow squash. The tires are made from sliced turnips. The kids construct the headlights, and vehicle accessories out of a wide variety of other vegetables. Many visiting engineers stop by to offer advice and see what's going on. After completion, each derby designer has a turn racing their derby car down a slide ramp racetrack. The distance traveled by each car is marked with their name and the top three finishers win a prize of bubbles or sidewalk chalks. This year over 40 kids participated, with several derby builders returning to see if they could improve on their designs. In conjunction with the Squash Derby, the Extension Plant Sciences Department conducted a "Plant Clinic." Plant Clinics help to educate the community about horticultural practices, pest identification, and pest management through an informal question and answer session. Three Specialists from the department, Carol Sutherland (Extension Entomologist), Jason French (Plant Diagnostic Clinician), and Natalie Goldberg (Extension Plant Pathologist), were on hand to help people with specific gardening questions and pest identification requests. Insect boxes containing the 100 most common insects in New Mexico, biting and stinging pests, and arthropods that eat weeds were displayed in the booth. The event was a great success with over 490 people stopping by to get their questions answered or to learn about the insects on display.

March 7

ACES Extension Plant Sciences hosted the annual Western Pecan Growers Association conference March 2-4 at the Hotel Encanto. The conference brings in more than 400 growers to Las Cruces to talk about issues affecting production. Among other educational talks Growers discussed protecting their crops from insects and marketing efforts.

KTSM Channel 9 did a news segment on our NM Shrimp Co. on March 5. Thanks to a unique partnership between ACES and NMSU and a businessman, the dream of fresh shrimp from the dessert has come true. Tracy said, "The shrimp is farm raised product that has no antibiotics, we know it's safe and we know it's fresh". Local restaurants are interested in purchasing the shrimp.