Home New mexico economy NMSU Extension staff spread research-based knowledge statewide

NMSU Extension staff spread research-based knowledge statewide

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LAS CRUCES – Among Fabián García’s notable accomplishments is a connection to the people of New Mexico. From the development of modern irrigation agriculture to the testing of many varieties of fruits and vegetables, its influence extends to every corner of the state.

Jon Boren believes García’s legacy lives on through the work of New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.

“He recognized the value of bringing his research knowledge to New Mexico communities,” said Boren, associate dean and director of NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service. “He went out into the communities. Today, our extension specialists do the same by bringing research-based information to communities. He understood their needs and brought them his research-based knowledge.

Through Cooperative Extension Service alternative education programs in each of the state’s 33 counties, NMSU faculty research reaches approximately one-third of New Mexico’s 2 million people. With more than 250 faculty and staff, nearly 11,000 volunteers, and 54 offices statewide, the Cooperative Extension Service strives to bring a wide range of research-based information and expertise directly to residents of New Mexico.

Boren cited García’s early pecan variety trials, which helped shape New Mexico’s culture and economy, as a model for extension research.

“From an extension perspective, it demonstrated to New Mexico growers that a crop that was not native to New Mexico could be grown well,” Boren said. “Extension specialists have a variety of trials throughout the state that extend some of the early work initiated by Fabián. Most importantly, our extension specialists use some of the same processes Fabián used to test, develop and introduce new crops to New Mexico.

García brought new crops to New Mexico and used traditional breeding methods to improve them, said Rolston St. Hilaire, head of the Extension Plant Sciences and Plant and Environmental Sciences departments.

“Today, our breeders use traditional breeding methods to improve crops such as peppers,” St. Hilaire said. “For example, our specialists have developed pepper plants that could be harvested mechanically.

Professors and extension staff often conduct research trials at the Fabián García Science Center, a 45-acre research station in Las Cruces. St. Hilaire said extension specialists are currently exploring ways to expand the use of new and unusual vegetables in New Mexico.

Ongoing chili pepper research at the center uses traditional methods to select chili peppers for multiple traits, such as mechanical harvestability and disease resistance, and incorporates testing to assess harvesting via robots. .

Current pecan research includes trials to study the soil microbiome around pecan trees that grow in place at the center. Grape research involves growing wine grapes suitable for the New Mexico climate and determining the best way to turn the grapes into wine using the center’s fermentation lab.

A version of this story first appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of ACES magazine. To read the issue, visit nmsu.link/aces-magazine.

“Eye on Research” is provided by New Mexico State University. This week’s article was written by Tiffany Acosta of Marketing and Communications. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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