Row Crops

Perspective of Looking Up at Corn with Tassels to Sky
Corn Tassels (Photo Taken by Adrienne Rosenberg)

The foods known to be quintessential to Southwest cuisine-- corn, beans, and chile-- are not only a huge part of New Mexican heritage, but they also continue to be eaten as staple and well-loved foods. In addition, corn and chile rank two of the top ten agricultural products grown in New Mexico. SASC has collaborated with an NMSU maize breeder on the development of landrace corn "Flor del Rio" as well as a study evaluating a number of lines of common beans and tepary beans. SASC has also been working with Los Lunas Science Center in evaluating landrace and commercial chiles for early maturing red pods when transplanted versus direct seeded and comparing the use of row cover versus uncovered. In the past, we joined with a USDA Agricultural Research Service breeder on studying and evaluating winter hardiness of winter faba bean's (habas) lines and the use of the pods as a spring vegetable. In addition to the these crops, we recently have grown kale, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach at the station. We also research best management practices along with the performance of different plant varieties.

SASC at Alcalde Publications

How-to Guides and Circulars

  • Guide A 609_Relay Intercropping Brassicas into Chile and Sweet Corn
    Intercropping is a type of multiple cropping system in which two or more crops are grown simultaneously on the same field. Relay intercropping is the production of a second crop planted into a field when the first crop has reached its reproductive stage but before physiological maturity. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of intercropping four brassicas on the yields of chile and sweet corn in a high desert region of north-central New Mexico.

Additional NMSU Publications

How-to Guides and Circulars

  • Guide H 223_Home and Market Garden Sweet Corn Production
    Fresh, high-quality sweet corn is one of the most popular vegetables grown in home gardens and purchased by consumers at roadside stands and farmers' markets. At optimal market maturity, sweet corn will contain 5–6% sugar, 10–11% starch, 3% water-soluble polysaccharides, and 70% water. Sweet corn will also contain moderate levels of protein, vitamin A (yellow varieties), and potassium.
  • Guide H 226_Blue Corn Production and Marketing in New Mexico
    Maize or corn has been the basis for many great cultures in the New World, including those of the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations. Corn was domesticated in Mexico and cultivated by Native Americans in New Mexico by 4100 B.P. (before present). Corn has been a major staple of the Pueblo Tribes of the U.S. Southwest. In the past and present, corn is an important element in Native American religious rituals. Although Pueblo Tribes planted many different colors of corn, blue corn became one of the most important. It was generally dried on rooftops, stored as grain on the cobs, shelled, and ground into meal as needed.
  • Guide H 231_Commercial Pumpkin Production for New Mexico
    All species of pumpkin are native to the western hemisphere, with most originating in tropical areas of the Americas. Originally grown for their seeds, they are also now eaten for their flesh. This guide describes the needs for growing commercial pumpkins, such as irrigation, temperature and soil considerations, pollination, pests, and harvesting.
  • Guide H 235_Postharvest Handling of Fresh Chiles
    Fresh chiles are valued for their unique and varied flavors and pungency, attractive colors, and crisp texture. Chile fruits are also among the richest known plant sources of vitamin C. Fresh chiles are living tissues and are high in moisture content even after harvest. Once the fruit is removed from the plant, it is vulnerable to desiccation (drying), mechanical injury, and decay. The fruits continue to respire, produce ethylene, and change color as they ripen.
  • Guide H 240_Growing Peppers in New Mexico Gardens
    Peppers (Capsicum sp.) exhibit a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes. The term "pepper" should not be confused with "black pepper" (Piper nigrum) produced from the dried unripe fruit of a vine grown in the tropics. Peppers can generally be classified into two groups: mild- or sweet-tasting fruit (bell, pimento, sweet wax) and fruit with hot or pungent flesh (long green and jalapeno).
  • Guide H 258_Field Production of Organic Chile Guide
    At the markets, organic chile commands a premium price and can improve profitability for growers. Organic chile production poses novel challenges for growers, and must be dealt with in ways other than those used by conventional producers.
  • Circular 457_Home Vegetable Gardening in New Mexico
    This publication provides general information for growing vegetables in home gardens in New Mexico. Use this publication with its companion, Circular 457-B, Growing Zones, Recommended Crop Varieties, and Planting and Harvesting Information for Home Vegetable Gardens in New Mexico. Circular 457-B includes a map showing New Mexico growing zones, as well as a table providing crop variety recommendations, recommended planting dates, days to harvest, planting instructions, and yield information.
  • Circular 457-B_Growing Zones, Recommended Crop Varieties, and Planting and Harvesting Information for Home Vegetable Gardens in New Mexico
    New Mexico can be divided into three growing zones, which are based on the average number of frost-free days and the average date for the last frost in the spring (Figure 1). Growing periods for individual gardens can vary as much as 20 days from the zone's average. This variance may be due to elevation, site exposure, or air drainage. For example, gardens with northern slope exposures are cooler than those with southern slope exposures. Also, cooler air is heavier than warmer air, so gardens in valleys are more prone to frost than gardens overlooking the valley. Therefore, consider your garden's unique needs as you determine planting dates.
  • Circular 577_Onion Production and Marketing in New Mexico
    This publication was compiled as the proceedings for an onion conference conducted on March 6, 2002, in Las Cruces, N.M. The goal of the conference was to strengthen New Mexico’s onion industry by presenting the latest technological and research-based information about onion production and marketing. The conference was sponsored by New Mexico State University and New Mexico.
  • Circular 679_The Landrace Chiles of Northern New Mexico
    New Mexico is renowned throughout the world for producing chile peppers (Capsicum annuum). The development and release of "New Mexico No. 9" in 1913 from the New Mexico School of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now New Mexico State University) introduced a standardized New Mexico type chile cultivar that provided the foundation for the chile pepper processing industry in New Mexico and the United States. Since that time, many other commercial chile pepper cultivars have been released and continue to be widely grown. While these New Mexico commercial cultivars are the main type grown in the southern part of the state, in northern New Mexico many Native American Pueblo and Hispanic communities have long grown "native chile," also known as New Mexico landraces. Landrace is the term for a line of plants that have become adapted to a geographical area following more than 100 years of selection and seed saving.

Technical Publications

  • RR 792_The Chile Cultivars of New Mexico State University Released from 1913 to 2016
    New Mexico State University (NMSU) has the longest continuously operating chile breeding and genetics program in the world. The chile improvement program officially began at NMSU in 1888 with Dr. Fabian Garcia, NMSU's first horticulturist, and his later release of "New Mexico No. 9". Improvement of chile cultivars for New Mexico through breeding and genetics is a major research thrust at NMSU. All New Mexican pod-type chiles grown today gained their genetic base from cultivars first developed at NMSU (Bosland, 2015). Improved cultivars lower production costs and consumer costs, increase yields and producer incomes, and improve product quality

Journal Articles & External Publications

  • "Agronomic and Kernel Compositional Traits of Blue Maize Landraces from the Southwestern United States", Crop Science- Plant Genetic Resources, Vol. 56, No. 5, 2016:
    Diverse landraces of maize have been cultivated for centuries in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico primarily for human food consumption. A striking feature of these landraces is the wide array of kernel colors displayed. Traditional cultivation is declining, but blue maize has received increasing commercial interest due to rising consumer demand for unique food products with health benefits and special culinary uses. We evaluated grain yield, agronomic and morphological traits, and analyzed the kernel biochemical composition of five blue and one purple landraces representative of diversity in the Southwest. These were compared with selected open-pollinated populations derived from Southwest and Corn Belt blue maize at several New Mexico locations in 2012 and 2013.
  • "Dry-matter and Nitrogen Yields of Legumes Interseeded into Sweet Corn", HortScience, Volume 31, No. 2, April 1996:
    Five legumes [hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaerth.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), black lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.), and red clover (Trifolium pratense L.)] were interseeded into sweet corn (Zea mays L.) at last cultivation when sweet corn was at about the V9 (early) or blister (late) stage. The effect of legume interseeding on sweet corn yield, and late-season dry-matter and N yields of aboveground portions of the legumes was determined. Sweet corn yield was not affected by legume interseeding. Authors: Steve Guldan, Charles Martin, Jose Cueto-Wong, and Robert L. Steiner.
  • "Interseeding Legumes into Chile: Legume Productivity and Effect on Chile Yield", HortScience, Vol. 31, No. 7, December 1996:
    Three legumes [hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaerth.), and black lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.)] were interseeded into 'New Mexico 6-4' chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) when plants were 20-30 cm tall (3 Aug., "early" interseeding) or when plants were 30-40 cm tall (16-17 Aug., "late" interseeding) in 1993 and 1994. Our objectives were to determine the effect of legume interseeding on cumulative chile yield, and late-season dry-matter and nitrogen yields of aboveground portions of the legumes. Authors: Steve Guldan, Charles Martin, Jose Cueto-Wong, and Robert L. Steiner.
  • "Interseeding Legumes into Chile: Legume Benefits to a Following Crop of Forage Sorghum", HortTechnology, Vol. 7, No. 2, April- June 1997:
    Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaerth.), and black lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) were interseeded into `New Mexico 6-4' chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) when plants were 8 to 12 inches tall or 12 to 16 inches tall in 1993 and 1994. Hairy vetch overwintered well both years, whereas barrel medic and black lentil did not. Spring aboveground dry mass yields of hairy vetch averaged 2.11 and 2.57 tons per acre in 1994 and 1995, respectively, while N accumulation averaged 138 and 145 pounds per acre in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] dry mass yield and N accumulation were significantly higher following hairy vetch than following the other legumes or no-legume control. There was no significant difference between forage sorghum yields following barrel medic, black lentil, or the no-legume control. Fertilizer replacement values (FRV) for the legumes were calculated from regression equations for forage sorghum dry mass yield as a function of N fertilizer rate. FRV for hairy vetch were at least 7-times higher than for either barrel medic or black lentil. Hairy vetch interseeded into chile pepper and managed as a winter annual can significantly increase the yield of a following crop compared to a unfertilized control. Authors: Steven J. Guldan, Charles A. Martin, William C. Lindemann, Jose Cueto-Wong, and Robert L. Steiner.
  • "Yield and Green-Manure Benefits of Interseeded Legumes in a High Desert Environment", Agronomy Journal, Vol. 89, No. 5, September- October 1997:
    Relay intercropping legumes into vegetable crops provides cover and green-manure benefits to subsequent crops, but has not been adequately researched in high desert regions. This study evaluated the dry matter, N yield, effect on a subsequent forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] crop, and estimated fertilizer-replacement value (FRV) of several legumes interseeded into sweet corn (Zea mays L.). The study took place under furrow irrigation in north-central New Mexico (study site elevation, 1737 m) on a Fruitland sandy loam (coarse-loamy, mixed, calcareous, mesic Typic Torriorthent). **Abstract link only**

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