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New Mexico pecan weevil quarantine is in effect

Pecan weevil larvae

LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico pecan industry is important to the state’s economy, and New Mexico Department of Agriculture officials remind the public of the Pecan Weevil Quarantine Rule that affects movement of in-shell pecans.  Here is a statement from NMDA:

Last November, the Pecan Weevil Interior Quarantine Rule went into effect. The rule establishes quarantine areas, restrictions and treatment options. Quarantined areas include Eddy, Lea and Chaves Counties. The interior rule is an addition to New Mexico’s Pecan Weevil Exterior Quarantine Rule enacted in 1997. The exterior rule restricts the movement of in-shell pecans originating in all states except Arizona, California and the Texas counties of El Paso and Hudspeth, as well as parts of Culberson County.

To prevent the spread of pecan weevil in New Mexico, in-shell pecans cannot be transported out of quarantined areas unless one of the following treatments has occurred:

  • Storage in an approved cold storage chamber at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit for a period of seven consecutive days (168 hours) after the entire lot reaches zero degrees Fahrenheit
  • Immersion in hot water for a period of five minutes after reaching a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit

The shipment of in-shell pecans originating from a New Mexico quarantined county directly to an approved New Mexico cold storage facility is allowed. Approval from NMDA must be obtained prior to shipments. In-shell pecan shipments that do not comply with state pecan weevil quarantine requirements risk destruction, confiscation or other consequences as allowed by state law.

Pecan weevil is considered the most significant insect pest of pecan producers. If not contained, the pest could affect the state’s pecan industry’s economic impact. According to the United States Department of Agriculture–National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state’s pecan production in 2018 was over 91 million pounds with a production value of $187 million.  New Mexico’s 2019 pecan production forecast is at a record high of 97 million pounds.

New Mexico leads the nation in pecan production density. The top five pecan-producing counties in the state are Doña Ana (over 34,000 acres), Eddy (over 5,000), Chaves (over 3,000), Luna (over 1,000) and Sierra (about 500). Doña Ana County leads the entire nation in pecan production with just under 67 million pounds from 34,319 acres.

Widespread establishment of pecan weevil in New Mexico’s commercial and residential pecan acres would result in additional two-to-four pesticide applications at an estimated statewide industry cost of $4.0 to $6.5 million per year. Until an effective control method is developed, establishment of pecan weevil in the state’s organic pecan orchards would probably result in the loss of that portion of the industry.

If you suspect the presence of pecan weevil or have any questions, please contact the New Mexico Department of Agriculture at 575-646-3207.