Options for controlling pests, including weeds, insects and feral hogs, will be among the topics covered at the annual Southwest Hay & Forage Conference, set for Jan. 13-14 in Ruidoso, NM.

“Each year, insects and weed pests cost New Mexico alfalfa and other forage growers millions of dollars,” says Mark Marsalis, New Mexico State University (NMSU) Extension agronomist. “Producers are continually requesting more information on how to control the pests that rob them of their profits and make their operations less efficient.”

Feral hogs, he adds, are a growing problem in New Mexico and more and more farmers and ranchers are realizing the hogs’ damaging effects on their land.

“Feral hogs are currently spreading across the U.S. at unprecedented rates,” says Justin Stevenson, USDA wildlife disease biologist. “New Mexico stands at a crossroads where landowners, producers, agencies and others must decide how to eradicate this invader and not allow it to overcome us.”

Pest control topics will also include management of nematodes in forages, herbicides labeled for use in various forage crops, new over-the-top grass herbicides for sorghum, and corn rootworm biology and management.

In 2010, growers in southeastern New Mexico experienced a devastating outbreak of cutworms, from which the region is still trying to recover. Woods Houghton, Eddy County Extension agent, will give an overview of the conditions that led to the outbreak and how control measures weren’t as effective as hoped.

Other topics will include updates from NMSU and Arizona researchers studying irrigation termination in alfalfa, alfalfa nutrient requirements and fertilizer applications, as well as improving feed rations with mixtures of cereal and legume crops.

The conference will have a large machinery trade show, booths with various forage-related products, two sponsored meals, a social hour and entertainment by comedian Damian Mason.

It starts at 9 a.m. Jan. 13 at the Ruidoso Convention Center. Pre-registration is $55 per person until Jan. 1; $75 after that date. Attendees can register at the door for $75.

For more information, visit www.nmhay.com or contact Gina Sterrett at 575-626-5677 or nmhay@yahoo.com, or Justin Boswell at 575-840-9908 or juboswel@yahoo.com.