Agriculture & Horticulture



Valencia County has 8,500 acres of irrigated land used for agricultural production as well as privately and publicly owned rangeland grazed by approximately 15,000 head of beef per year.

Valencia County's Agriculture agent is available to assist farmers and ranchers in identifying and implementing practices that help them increase their economic viability. In addition, research-based education is provided through programs, workshops and site visits.

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Hoop House Production & Management

New Mexico's clear skies and intense sunshine provides local growers an excellent opportunity to utilize hoop houses to extend their growing season and increase production. Hoop houses give growers the ability to alter their gardens environment and protect their vegetables from wind, the intense sun and create a microclimate with humidity which can be helpful in our arid environment.

Creating such a great environment for growing doesn't come without its challenges. This same environment is also beneficial to some pests and disease. Successful hoop house production requires being able to manage both the benefits and the challenges.

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Pests & Disease

Pest identification is the first step in any pest management situation. The practice of integrated pest management depends on "field scouting" or monitoring of pest populations and crop development. This step is critical since appropriate management methods may vary dramatically for each pest. Unfortunately, pest identification can be very difficult if you are not familiar with the weed, insect, or disease problems present within your area. In addition, many pests share similar traits, which make identification extremely difficult.

Forage Production & Pasture Management

Forages contribute a significant amount to Valencia County's economy as well as all of New Mexico through job creation and food production in addition to providing environmental benefits such as soil protection and improvement of wildlife habitat.

Hay acreage remains fairly constant from one year to the next and the value of New Mexico's hay per ton is usually higher than the national average. Forage crops are not only grown as stored feeds (hay and silage), they also are used as pastures for livestock that are frequently visited by big game, migratory birds, and other wildlife.

For additional information regarding the economic impact of forage in New Mexico, visit NM Forage Facts.

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Vegetable & Fruit Production

Vegetable and fruit production is a long standing tradition in Valencia County. Although the majority of farm land in Valencia County is used for forage production, there is an increasing number of acres being used for mixed vegetable and fruit production.

Information and training is made available to increase the profitability and sustainability of vegetable and fruit production in Valencia County. Priority areas targeted include adoption of best production practices, marketing, season extension, irrigation techniques and encouraging sustainable agriculture practices for Valencia County's vegetable and fruit crops.

Viticulture

Almost four hundred years ago the first wine grapes were planted in New Mexico soil at the San Antonio De Padua Mission located just south of Socorro, New Mexico. Today there are approximately 1,200 acres of grapes planted in New Mexico and 38 wineries and tasting rooms located within the state. New Mexico produced wines hold national and international awards.

In owning or starting a vineyard it is important to stay abreast of the viticulture industry and locals issues. New Mexico State University can provide information and guidance on vineyard design and construction, tasting rooms, pest and disease management, soils, pruning, economics and business planning.

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Marketing Strategies

The desire to eat local food, including locally grown fruits and vegetables is an extremely fast growing market, not only here in New Mexico but nationally. This trend in consumer purchasing attitudes is a huge market opportunity for small-acreage farmers around the state.

As with every opportunity there is a number or challenges, including land-use, labor, water and weather, as well as meeting the demands of larger markets such as, volume, quality and distribution. New Mexico State University is working with small-acreage farmers to help meet the demand and work through the challenges. Ongoing programs available are hoop house construction to extend seasonal production, soil and cover crops, integrated pest management, growing fruits and vegetables, and value-added marketing.

Newt McCarty
Valencia County Agriculture Agent
Phone: 505-565-3002
Email: jnewton3@nmsu.edu