Edible Crop Farms & Agro-Ecoregions
The Southern Rockies, close to major urban areas and with its Indo-Hispanic traditions, has a strong seasonal, market farm agriculture with 750 crop farms covering 3,600 acres. Wheat (13 farms/450 acres) includes an organic wheat coop that supplies a bakery and coop. There are 79 nurseries, about 40 dry bean growers, more than 40 potato growers, perhaps 200 fruit/nut orchard growers (apples, cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, grapes), as well as 344 specialty crop farms and about 40 berry growers (both the most of any agro-ecoregion). Farmers markets and CSAs abound, and Taos County Economic Development Corporation has developed the Taos Food center to help with processing edibles.
The Arid Lowlands with its extended growing season and heavy irrigation supports the most crop farms (2,500) and the largest crop acreage (about 63,000 acres). Of this, about 1,960 farms and 41,000 acres are nut and fruit orchards. The remaining 22,000 acres grow other specialty crops on 325 farms: wheat for flour, dry beans, sweet potatoes, berries, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, watermelons and more.
The Arid Lowlands ranks as one of the top three states in pecan production, ranks high in U.S. sweet onions and chiles. Otero County, at higher elevation, grows apricots, pistachios, peaches, pears and cherries. There are more nurseries (about 100) than any other region, and some are major floriculture exporters reliant on
The High Plains with its flat landscape and close ties to the Midwest has more wheat farms (about 465) and more wheat acreage (about 286,000) than any other agro-ecoregion. Peanuts (about 29 farms and 7,900 acres) are the other major field crop, supplying over 90% of the nation’s Valencia organic peanuts. Almost all the other crops are for livestock.
The Colorado Plateau supports the largest number of irrigated farms (about 950 on about 11,000 acres) growing specialty crops (e.g. cantaloupes, tomatoes) and additional farms growing wheat for flour, berries and oats. It is the State leader in field crop potatoes (72 farms and over 200 acres) and dry beans (about 90 farms with undisclosed acreage). Traditional scattered “dryland” (non-irrigated) farming features the Three Sisters (beans, squash and corn) and low-density sheep grazing. The added production from traditional Navajo seasonal rainfall farming has been difficult to assess.
Central Plains & Transition Mountains & Plateaus
The Central Plains and Transition Mountains and Plateaus have the smallest number of farms for directly edible crops (below 200 each) and crop acreage (about 1,500 and 300 respectively) because of difficult locations, irrigation and unfavorable landscapes.Note: All acres underrepresented because of disclosure issues. See Agro-ecoregions and the Fifty Top New Mexico Crops.
Connections: More on crops can be found under Saving Farms, Eco-friendly Agriculture, Healthy Foods, Climate Change, irrigation, urban gardens, and subsidies.