UArizona’s Yuma agriculture center helps local growers against challenges
YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Making sure Yuma remains the lettuce capital of the world comes with challenges. The University of Arizona Yuma Agricultural Center is working with local growers to help them produce some of the best-yielding crops. They have over 500 acres of land in Yuma, where they can plant different varieties of crops and test different diseases and insects that harm them.
That research is then used to help local growers plant the best crops. Humberto Hernandez, the AG center’s director, said they help farmers with everything from mechanization, irrigation, soil health, and testing crops for fungus or diseases.
One of their biggest ongoing projects is growing and researching different types of lettuce that will withstand Arizona’s climate and the different insects or diseases that affect the crop. “Our biggest issue right now and it’s been for the past 10, 12 years, is fusarium wilt on lettuce. It’s a big disease and we still don’t have ways to control it. There’s a lot of work going on between the seed companies to plant lettuce that’s more resistant,” he said.
Researchers at the university can help farmers keep some of those diseases at bay so they don’t affect a whole field. “In order to supply five to six months of lettuce, there is a lot of planning that goes on. The varieties they’re gonna plant, when they are going to plant them,” he said.
Hernandez said water conservation is also a big part of their mission. As water shortages continue to be a concern for growers, the university helps local farmers implement irrigation techniques that help conserve water. “You never learn everything. Every year new challenges come. We have things to face, it’s not like you resolve the issues of agriculture. Agriculture changes on a daily basis,” he said.
Hernnadez said he looks forward to those challenges and working through them with his team.
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