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Pecan Conference moves to Las Cruces Convention Center for March conference

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The Western Pecan Growers Association (WPGA) is expected to welcome about 600 participants to its 2022 Conference and Trade Show, which will be held live and in person Monday through Thursday, March 7-10, at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave.

The conference is “a one-stop shop for people interested in pecans,” said WPGA Executive Director John White of Las Cruces, who is the conference coordinator.

It will include information and expertise about growing, harvesting and marketing pecans, White said, and will feature pecan specialists and other agricultural professionals from New Mexico State University and other universities and organizations discussing water issues, soil, weather, food-industry regulations, pests and diseases, weeding, pruning, stabilizing production, future markets and pricing for both large and small pecan farmers. White said the conference’s more than 80 vendors – located both inside and outside the convention center – will include drone vendors and people selling new and used tractors, shakers, shredders and other equipment.

The conference is designed to benefit both large and small pecan farmers, White said, with vendors selling pre-owned equipment for both big and small pecan farms and pecan and ag experts available for one-on-one conversations.  

One of the conference’s featured participants will be American Pecan Council Executive Director Alex Ott, who will lead a marketing panel Wednesday afternoon, March 9.

NMSU Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business Department Head Jay M. Lillywhite, Ph.D., will discuss supply-chain issues affecting the pecan industry, White said.

Registration is $250 per person, which includes a WPGA annual membership and subscriptions to the WPGA quarterly newsletter and three industry magazines.

A Las Cruces native, White helped start the pecan industry in New Mexico, beginning in 1976 when he served as NMSU Cooperative Extension Service (CES) director for Lea County, New Mexico. From 1980-99, White was horticulture agent for El Paso County, Texas. He served as horticulture agent for Doña Ana County from 1999-2008. From 2008 until his retirement in 2020, White worked as lead curator at UTEP's Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.

New Mexico is second only to Georgia in commercial pecan production. Doña Ana County, which produces 70 percent of New Mexico’s pecan crop, is the single largest pecan-producing county in the United States.

NMSU has become a repository for pecan seeds and trees from throughout the region where pecans grow naturally, which stretches from central Mexico to northern Illinois, including parts of eastern Texas and Oklahoma, said NMSU professor Richard Heerema, Ph.D., who is one of only a handful of pecan specialists in the United States. Heerema also will be a conference participant.

Late registration for the conference ends Feb. 28. For registration and additional information, visit westernpecan.org.

Also visit pecans.nmsu.edu.