There is a secret in New Mexico. An enchanted secret shared only with the few, the industrious, the visionaries. But to these select alfalfa farmers who have been captured by this unique climate, the arid land has whispered it’s hot sweet secret and together they have captured the power of New Mexico’s enchanted sun and baled it into firm leafy green bales sought from as far away as Florida and even Japan.
Nestled between Texas, Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, New Mexico combines the best of all worlds into a one of a kind growing environment.
The New Mexico alfalfa producer has turned the arid desert into an oasis for top quality alfalfa hay production.
Freed from the constant worry of unkindly rain, the farmer can control irrigation, cutting and baling to meet the exact specification for premium hay. The relatively low humidity is ideal for perfect curing of windrowed hay, with an absolute minimum of quality and nutrient loss. Part of the essence of New Mexico's hay quality is that most hay is baled at night – a technique not as common in less arid regions of the country. When the humidity begins to rise during the night, New Mexico farmers will spend countless night-time hours monitoring the humidity and making many moonlit trips out to check fields, waiting for the perfect baling conditions. But the secret of New Mexico’s top quality alfalfa hay is much more than climate and baling techniques. It is soil, technology, marketing, research and know how. Nowhere in the nation is there such a dynamic combination working toward the same goal: the continuation of the legacy of premier alfalfa hay.
It is little wonder that when a hay broker proudly advertises New Mexico hay, the selective buyer knows exactly what he will receive; a uniquely lush and consistent product. Because alfalfa hay is the state’s number one cash crop, nothing is held back from production. Over 30% of New Mexico’s alfalfa is exported outside the state and producers of large and small bales alike have a long history of knowing and delivering exactly what buyers in each part of the country want.
This legacy of top quality is no accident. It is the harmonious unity of university research, breeding and extension programs, supported by an ag-chemical cooperative, agri-chemical and private scouting farmers industry and coordinated by a strong New Mexico Hay Association. These can-do professionals work hand in hand toward a common goal because they have taken the time to listen to the buyers’ needs and then discovered the secret of this enchanted land. The results are unbeatable.
Unlocking the secrets of lush green hay production in the desert started with New Mexico State University’s world renowned research and breeding program. Dr. Billy Melton has become a legend in his own time for capturing the most desirable characteristics of many alfalfa hays and combining them into varieties uniquely able to thrive in this environment. Since Melton's retirement, Dr. Ian Ray has carried on this strong tradition of research and development. It is little wonder that 80% of alfalfa breeders currently working in the United States have degrees from NMSU, the Mecca of alfalfa hay research.
But the story doesn’t stop here. The best characteristics of these hay varieties are enhanced by the most modern irrigation equipment, perfectly proportioned fertilizers, widely executed weed and disease control and exactly timed cutting and baling.
New Mexico producers consistently monitor insects including the blister beetle. With NMSU’s outstanding pest management program coupled with effective, environmentally safe controls, producers continue to reduce unwanted insect population in New Mexico alfalfa. The experienced producer watches closely as the curing process continues to soak up the enchanted sun. At the most optimum moment he moves his most modern equipment into the field to quickly harvest the leafy hay and move it in a matter of hours to transportation facilities connecting with every buyer in the nation.
These bales of New Mexico’s enchanted sun go to choosy buyers, demanding buyers, satisfied buyers who return again and again for the same premier product, New Mexico alfalfa - enchantment in a bale.