NMSU’s chile field day to be held virtually

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Gabriel Chavez

NMSU prepares for biennial Chile Pepper Field Day

National Chile Day is tomorrow and the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas will be hosting their biennial Chile Pepper Field day with a twist. This year, it is going virtual.  

Normally the Chile Pepper Field day takes place every other year, with its focus surrounding anything chile related. The field day is a hands-on experience where participants are encouraged to go on wagon rides and take part in a chile roasting at the end of the day. However, this year’s activities will be different due to statewide health restrictions against mass gatherings. 

The virtual field day will begin at 2 p.m. and will take place on the Agricultural Science Center’s Facebook page. From there, students will be introduced to the research that is taking place on location and other projects, including chile research from Dr. Stephanie Walker, who is the extension vegetable specialist for the Extension Plant Sciences Department.  

“We’ve done mechanical harvest of green chile trials up at the Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center,” Walker said. “If you haven’t gone, it is truly going to be a loss on the experience.”  

Walker is also working on new cultivar and chile pepper production protocols, among other points of research and training in the field. There will also be the introduction of Dr. Dennis Lozada who is taking over the chile breeding program that was previously headed by Dr. Paul Bosland, who retired this year.  

At NMSU there are more than 100 different types of chile pods studied in the Fabian Garcia Science Center. Walker mentioned that the chile grown in the center has been cultivated in New Mexico for almost 400 years and has helped shape New Mexican culture.  

According to the NMSU Chile Pepper Institute, modern-day chile that we, as New Mexicans love comes from Fabian Garcia, who was a part of the university’s first graduating class in 1894. Garcia’s research not only provided a standard for New Mexican chile, but also for pecans and onions. 

Though the Chile Pepper Field day will look differently this year, NMSU students are excited to participate in its scheduled virtual activities. 

Adam Hooper, a senior studying horticulture at NMSU said that the field day is important, even though it is virtual. It’s significance to New Mexican culture is what Hooper is most excited about.  

“It is world-renowned. With that comes a pride and sense of culture when it comes to chile,” Hooper said. “A lot of chile has come out of our university.”  

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