What is in this article?:
- U.S. chile growers face growing competition from Mexico, South America and China. Labor costs for foreign growers hovers around $2 a day while New Mexico growers pay from $9 to $10 an hour to domestic workers.
CHILE ACREAGE has rebounded a bit in New Mexico, but challenges remain from foreign competition and production costs.
New Mexico chile law
Chile association officials at the conference say New Mexico’s new Chile Advertising Act is working to help domestic chile sales at a time when foreign imports are putting pressure on local growers because it makes it unlawful for vendors in the state to label fresh or processed chile as being from New Mexico unless it was actually grown in the state. Vendors in New Mexico subject to the law include groceries, restaurants, convenience stores, farmers' markets and roadside vegetable stands.
During other conference activity, Gary Nabhan, a research scientist based at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, reported on climate change and water scarcity in the Southwestern U.S. Attendees also heard about recent research solutions for disease and pest management and learned about the latest updates on mechanical cleaning of chiles.
Researchers from the New Mexico Chile Pepper Institute announced the completion of a draft map of the chile genome, a major step toward making genetic improvements in the chile crop. NMSU Associate Professor Stephen Hanson told attendees potential genetic modifications to chile could help control plant diseases, such as a gene that could help fight the pathogen phytophera.
NMSU Professor Paul Bosland, co-chairman of the conference, told the group the Chile Institute has raised some $500,000 so far that can be used to fund a permanent researcher dedicated to chile. He said the goal is to generate about $1 million to finance the project.
About 220 attendees turned out for the conference.