Chile farmers in New Mexico busy preparing their crops | KOB 4

Chile farmers in New Mexico busy preparing their crops

Brett Luna
Updated: June 16, 2020 05:45 PM
Created: June 16, 2020 04:36 PM

ALBUQUERQUE N.M.- A few months ago, fields were plowed, land was tilled, rows were weeded and chile seeds were planted.

Fast-forward to June, the chile plants are several inches high, and it's time to start thinning them out.

"It requires hand labor - the human eye.  There's no machine that would do this because the machine would not recognize the difference between the diseased plant and a healthy plant,” said Glen Duggins, a chile farmer in Socorro County.

The chile is initially planted thick to help with disease issues but then nearly 80% of that has to be thrown out.

"You know that it has to be done but to a farmer to see your plants laying on the ground it is hurtful and I wonder if they even feel it sometimes,” he said.

One of the reasons why farmers are having to thin out their chile is because of diseases.  C

Chile is very susceptible to different types of disease. Some diseases originate in alfalfa and is carried over by insects.

Crews have been thinning for several days, but the process is still not complete.

Thinning out the chile kind of destroys the row in the process so dirt rows then have to be built back up with a tractor.

"We like to throw the dirt and roll the dirt right up to the plant and maybe even cover the stem of the bottom of the plant with 4 inches of dirt,” Duggins said.

The hope is to get the dirt up high enough to help out with the heavy downpours that come during monsoon season.

The chile will start to flower and set fruit before too much longer but it will still be a few months before the chile is ready to be picked. 

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