"There was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world." Willa Cather
Have you noticed it's chile season?
The aroma of roasted chile is a standard aspect of life at this time of year in New Mexico.
New Mexico is the number one chile resource in the U.S., with chile products contributing $200 million to the state's economy. Check out the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University for a barrage of chilefacts, including descriptions of troubles like Alfalfa Mosaic, Beet Curly Top, Wind Injury, and the dreaded Rootknot Nematodes. Don't even get us started about Pepper Weevil. Did you know that the New Mexico soil harbors the most aggressive possible race of phytophthora? Run for your lives?
The question is, will such insect pests and disease, along with labor problems, competition from Mexico, and poor agricultural practices, cause NM farmers to stop planting chile and switch to more profitable crops? Or will they adjust agricultural practices--like planting double rows of seedlings and investing in drip irrigation--and will the crisis pass? In the meantime, eat up.