2020 marks increase for hot pepper production in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — For chiles, 2020 wasn’t all bad as New Mexico farmers reported increased production and yield levels for the state’s most famous crop.

Numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Agriculture Department’s statistics service show 68,000 tons of red and green chile were produced in 2020. That’s an 8% increase over the previous year.

The crop’s value also increased to nearly $52 million.

Growers had reported labor shortages and reduced demand last year due to the pandemic.

State Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte says the positive numbers are a testament to New Mexico’s farmers. He said the crop forms the basis of salsas, sauces and other valuable products.