Our county's agriculture must remain competitive within local, national and even international markets. This requires a continuous flow of appropriate technology addressing local needs within New Mexico. Our Extension program works to maintain and strengthen programs that address these needs. Water is one of the most important limiting resources for our county's agriculture. All aspects of water use affect agricultural efficiency and profitability. Water management will become more critical as water demands for urbanization and industrialization increase.
The production of nuts has increased in Otero County. Pecan production is estimated at 1540 acres in the county. With the finding of an outbreak of pecan weevil in Dec. 1998, education and monitoring for the weevil will be needed for the next several years. Pistachio production is estimated at 470 acres and is growing and needing more marketing options for smaller growers. Apple and cherry production is still common in the mountain communities. Good orchard management practices are important to insure profitability for all these crops. It is important for growers to keep abreast of management practices, technology transfer, and market information.
Ninety percent of Otero County is rangeland that surrounds a few small towns and the quickly expanding city of Alamogordo and the Holloman Air Force Base. Much of the rangeland in Otero County is under government control as White Sands Missile Range or the McGrager Range. Otero county citizens need information to manage the land they live on and they also need to understand the water issues that surround them.
Otero County is a very large county made up of mostly desert rangeland and mountain forestland. Cattle and sheep ranching are the most common agribusiness. Many of the ranchers in Otero County depend on federal and state land for grazing permits for part of the grazing needed for their animals. Much of Otero County is unavailable for agricultural use because it is part of White Sands Missile Range and the McGrager range along with Holloman Air Force Base. Many ranchers need knowledge of the latest research to benefit their animals and rangeland and up-to-date information on legislation that affects their way of life. Personal rangeland monitoring has become popular to document how land is being utilized. Awareness of noxious weeds is increasing, however this will be an ongoing battle to clean up many roadways and fields that have become infested. Landowners want to increase the condition of their livestock and wildlife by improving the land, water, and feeding offered. Many people are moving to the Otero county area from various parts of the world and need information about agriculture in the desert environment. There is still a small fraction of producers raising ostrich. emus, and rheas though the market is down for the ratite industry and may not recover. The Mescalero Apache Reservation maintains a herd of cattle for the Tribe and demonstrates productive agricultural and other multiple uses of lands.