About 50 attend Kirksey Center's yearly Field Day


August 10, 2022

Courtesy photo

Dr. Gregg Busch, president of Mesalands Community College, gives his keynote speech during the annual Field Day last week at the New Mexico State University Rex E. Kirksey Agricultural Science Center in northeast Tucumcari.

Nearly 50 people attended the annual Field Day last week at the New Mexico State University Rex E. Kirksey Agricultural Science Center in northeast Tucumcari despite temperatures that reached 102 degrees.

The Field Day provides ag producers a chance to catch up on the center's latest research projects.

Attendees boarded wagons for a hay ride to hear presentations about ongoing projects that are irrigated with treated wastewater from the Tucumcari wastewater treatment plant, plus other topics.

Dr. Marcy Ward, NMSU state extension livestock specialist, described the New Mexico 4-H Youth Beef Contest, a new opportunity for 4-H members to do a livestock project without having to show at the fair.

Participants keep production records on a beef calf from weaning through slaughter, attend educational programs and make a presentation about their farm or ranch background and philosophy of beef production to help them become more familiar with the beef industry.

Ward also gave an update on the Tucumcari beef cattle feed efficiency testing program she directs.

The tour proceeded to one of the center's irrigated research areas to learn about weed control options in dryland crop systems from by Dr. Leslie Beck, NMSU's state extension weed specialist.

Beck said weed control with herbicides is most effective when weeds are small and growing. Coordinating herbicide applications with precipitation events also increases efficacy.

Dr. Kulbhushan Grover, an associate professor of agronomy at NMSU, spoke on the value of guar for forage.

Guar has been introduced to New Mexico and adjoining states because of its use in oil and gas extraction. Guar also is a food ingredient, including in ice cream and ketchup. In India and Pakistan, major exporters of guar to the United States, guar means "cow food" because that was its original use.

Aquib Ayman, a graduate student supervised by Dr. Murali Darapuneni, associate professor of semiarid cropping systems at the center, described an edible dry-bean project. Darapuneni said the input costs of edible dry beans are much lower than irrigated corn in the region.

Darapuneni also presented information on alternate cropping rotations during fallow periods that serve as cover crops. They hold a potential as harvesting forage or grain for economic returns if precipitation is sufficient.

The tour proceeded to cotton plots where Dr. Jane Pierce, an NMSU agronomic entomologist, spoke about kissing bugs and Mozena bugs.

Kissing bugs are vectors of Chagas disease, which is common in South America. Recently scientists have reconsidered the risk of contracting Chagas or developing dangerous allergies to kissing bugs in the southern U.S. The risk of contracting Chagas in Quay County is not high, but it is best to be cautious around the bugs.

Dogs are at higher risk because they can contract Chagas disease by eating the bugs. If dogs are kept outside overnight, it is best to not keep night lights near their kennel that can attract the bugs.

The Mozena bug is a leaf-footed insect that thrives on legumes, particularly mesquite. It feeds on other plants, and it remains a concern in cotton in West Texas. Pyrethroid insecticides are effective control measures. Area residents probably have seen more Mozena bugs since last year; they are the tan to greenish-yellow insects.

The final talk was by Leonard Lauriault, superintendent and forage crop management scientist at the science center, who spoke of the potential use of spring-planted winter cereals, such as wheat or barley, for pasture or hay in the first year and the following winter, then harvested for grain in the second year.

The background for the presentation was winter malt barley, which may have potential as a new crop for the region in light of the increase in the number of microbreweries.

Dr. Gregg Busch, Mesalands Community College President gave the keynote speech during the event. He spoke how education can empower students and lead to their future success.

The evening's program opened with the Pledge of Allegiance led by members of the Quay County Roadrunners 4-H Club.

After that, the Roadrunners club served a red chile enchilada meal as a fundraiser to support their activities. Participants also participated in an ice cream social after the tour.


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