Archive for the 'Irrigation' Category

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak, 4959 feet, about 7 miles from Las Cruces. (Click for a larger image.)

The old village of Picacho is located southeast of the peak, at the edge of the Mesilla Valley. Picacho was a stage stop on the , the first stop after Mesilla. From Picacho, the stage climbed the mesa and went around the north side of Picacho Peak through Box Canyon. This lead to a very difficult route through several mountain ranges, but was the only route on which water could be supplied at the stage stops, which were located about one hour of travel time apart.

From Mesilla the stage stops to the Arizona border were: Picacho, Rough and Ready, Goodsight, Cooke’s Springs, Mimbres, Cow Springs, Soldiers’s Farewell, Barney’s, Steins Peak.

The Butterfield Stage began operation on September 15, 1858, with stages leaving San Francisco and St. Louis, the two ends of the line, on that day. Mesilla was located about the middle of the route.

The Butterfield Stage was put out of operation by the start of the Civil War.

See also:
Picacho Cemetery
Picacho — A Brief History

Rough and Ready — Butterfield Stage Stop

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Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Reflections in a Pecan Wood

Research has indicated the best way to irrigate pecan trees is flood irrigation. This may appear to be an inefficient use of water, but this method leads to deep irrigation that encourages the tree roots to grow deeply. The water available to the deep roots reduces the need for surface irrigation.

In Doña Ana County we have over 18,000 acres of pecan orchards. So this time of the year the back roads of the Mesilla Valley stretch through thousands of pecan fields being irrigated.

The symmetrical planting of the trees creates endlessly fascinating views. But when you add the spectacular effects of sunlight glistening through the leaves and branches, and the reflections in the waters below, you have some of most remarkable visual delights ever seen.

These photos were taken today of a pecan field being flood irrigated. Click on each image for a larger view. It’s almost impossible to determine where reality ends and reflection begins.

Other pecan posts:

Pecans — The Cadillac of Nuts
18,000+ Acres
Pecan Harvesting
Pecan Pruning

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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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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.