Tiny bug posing threat to New Mexico's $180M pecan industry

A tiny bug is posing a threat to one of New Mexico's biggest cash crops.

An investigation published by the Carlsbad Current-Argus and Roswell Daily Record newspapers found an invasive bug known as the pecan weevil could hurt New Mexico's $180 million pecan industry.

In late 2016, and January 2017, the weevil was found in pecan orchards in multiple counties in southeast New Mexico. It was confirmed in Eddy, Lea, Chaves and Curry counties.

Quarantines were enacted to prevent its spread in the following months, and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture is looking to make them permanent.

New Mexico pecan producers worry the quarantine — which restricts pecan shipments to areas without an infestation — could prevent them from sending their harvested pecans to states west of New Mexico?

One of Eddy County's largest pecan producers, the Calvani Pecan Company, would have to assume additional costs for those shipments, said owner Dean Calvani.

"I hope they can eradicate it," Calvani said. "I think it's good they're becoming aware of it. The frustration is (NMDA) presented the quarantine a month before harvest. It didn't allow us to prepare."

Hoby Bonham, owner of Bonham Farms northwest of Roswell, said he supports the quarantine but is concerned added costs could put smaller operations at risk.

"It is an expense. I can't speak for everybody. I don't know where (all growers in the area) ship to or where they sell to," he said.

Bonham said he worked with about 10 other Chaves County growers to bring ideas to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture officials about the proposed quarantine.

But he said he understands that the New Mexico Department of Agriculture has expressed its intent to move quickly to enact the permanent quarantine.


Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, http://www.currentargus.com/