The New Mexico Department of Agriculture has received $35,000 in federal funding to fight pecan pests.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has awarded $70.5 million to 386 various programs that monitor and safeguard against significant invasive pests. The funding went to 49 states as well as to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, tribal nations and national initiatives.
“This type of funding is important, because New Mexico is the No. 1 pecan-producing state in the United States,” an emailed statement from the New Mexico Agriculture Department said. “The estimated value of 2019 New Mexico pecan production is $170.02 million.”
Public Affairs Director Kristie Garcia said that the state has been running pecan pest monitoring efforts since at least 2015 and previously has received $25,000 for its efforts through this annual competitive funding award process.
The newly announced funding is for the July 2020 to June 2021 fiscal year. The state Agriculture Department will work in collaboration with the New Mexico Pecan Growers Association and USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on surveys designed to detect pests that have not yet established in New Mexico pecans, including hickory shuckworm and brown marmorated stinkbug.
The statement indicated that new plant pests, whether insects or diseases, result in increased pesticide use, reduced profitability and other outcomes that can have harmful economic effects on crops. Early detection enables the state to create management programs that stop or slow the spread of the pest to uninfested pecan-growing areas of the state, El Paso County in Texas, Arizona, northern Mexico and California.
The 2020-21 funding also will be used for the detection of the pecan weevil and pecan nut casebearer — established in limited areas of the state — in an effort to slow their spread to uninfested pecan growing areas in western states and northern Mexico.