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New Mexico Researchers To Test Mechanized Green Chile Harvesting

A group of researchers and investors in New Mexico hope a new machine could be a game changer for the state’s green chile crop. Their goal is to streamline the harvesting process and increase production.

This season will be the first time researchers will use the machine on a commercial scale, with more than 200 acres to be harvested this way. Mechanized green chile harvesting has been challenging in the past as the vegetable’s flesh tends to bruise easily.

Stephanie Walker, a vegetable specialist at New Mexico State University, said the green chile crop has seen significant declines in recent years with a 10-percent drop in acreage in 2014 alone. She added drought is part of the problem, but so is access to available labor force.

"Growers are having a harder and harder time getting enough labor to harvest their crop," said Walker. "There have been times in the past where labor just hasn’t been there and that’s a terrible loss for a green chile grower."

The team plans to sit down with farmers at the end of harvesting season to assess performance.

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Associated Press