Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Pecans Yellowing

The pecans trees are just beginning to yellow. This is later than usual, which will delay the harvest, which usually begins in late October.

The pecans are hard to see unless you look closely.



Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Cabbage Harvest

The harvest begins.



Monday, October 9th, 2006

Mesilla Chiles

The local chile harvest is almost over.

Chile pods can be picked green or red. The pods, green initially, turn red when older.

Green chiles are eaten in many ways, chile rellenos being perhaps the most famous. Red chiles are used for spicing and sauces.

Here’s a green chile two days before its harvest:

Here are red chiles from the same field. Because the pods mature at different times, a field will have both green and red.

Here’s a banana pepper:

Here are cherry peppers:

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Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Irrigation Gates

Mesilla is criss-crossed with ditches and canals. This irrigation system goes back to the founding of Mesilla.

The Rio Grande is the source of the water. The gates enable the water to be directed to specific places at specific times in specific amounts.



Friday, September 29th, 2006

Flood Irrigation

Pecan trees are irrigated by flooding, which is the only practical way to get water to the roots of the trees. Flood irrigation may appear wasteful, but it actually encourages deep root growth, which in turn reduces the amount of irrigation water required by the crop.

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Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Cotton, Chile, Corn, Cabbage

Cotton is the number one crop around Mesilla. Here’s the Organ Mountains viewed over a cotton field just north of Mesilla:

Mesilla grows excellent chiles. Here’s the Organ Mountains viewed over a chile field just south of Mesilla:

Here’s the Organ Mountains viewed over a corn crop:

And finally, here’s the Organ Mountains viewed over a cabbage crop:

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Saturday, September 16th, 2006

18,000+ Acres

There are 18,000+ acres of pecans in this county (Doña Ana).

How many trees is that?

I don’t know, but you can get some idea of the miles and miles of trees from these satellite photos of pecan groves just south of Mesilla.

In a mature grove, trees are spaced about 30 feet apart, resulting in about 48 trees per acre.

The average yield for a pecan grove is about 600 pounds an acre.

This area produces higher than average yields, but most importantly, the quality of pecans grown here is unmatched anywhere else. High quality pecans require cold in the winter and heat in the summer, but not too cold or too hot. The climate here is just right for pecans.

Most growers in this area do not use chemical insecticides to control pests — instead, growers use natural predators like ladybugs and lacewing flies.



Thursday, September 7th, 2006

The Skilled Irrigator

Irrigation existed before civilization. Irrigation was one of the fathers (or mothers, if you prefer) of civilization.

The Skilled Irrigator was already a model of righteousness at the beginning of Sumerian civilization, around 8000 BC. The highest god in many early agricultural cultures was praised as “irrigator of all things.”

The root of irrigation means “to lead water to, to refresh.”

Unless you are in agriculture, you probably ignore irrigation, or maybe think about it only as a “consumer of water.”

But you are dependent upon irrigation for what you eat, and for much of what you wear.

Irrigation is close in Mesilla, which still has its partnership with the land. Many houses have 15 to 30 pecan trees and irrigation rights from the Rio Grande.

Irrigation canals thread the Village. Here’s some of what you can see if you look.

Cement canals prevent water loss into the ground, one of the goals of a Skilled Irrigator.

A control gate.

Canal and gate.

Gate control.



Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Pecans — The Cadillac of Nuts

Pecans are a huge agricultural industry around Mesilla. There are an estimated 18,000 acres of pecans in the county (Doña Ana).

Pecans, because of their wonderful flavor, have been called the Cadillac of nuts.

This is a wonderful time of the year to drive through the pecan groves. The trees are lush green and the patterns made by the sunlight, shadows, and rows of trees are dazzling.

The pecans in this area are irrigated primarily with water from the Rio Grande. As a result, there are many irrigation canals feeding the groves.