New Mexico pecan growers can enter their prize production in the pecan show during the Western Pecan Growers' Association conference at the Hilton in Las Cruces March 3-5.

To compete in the western region, growers must submit a sample of at least 40 pecans before Feb. 15, said Esteban Herrera, horticulture specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. Pecans can be entered in one of six categories: “Western Schley,” “Wichita,” improved varieties other than ‘Western Schley or ‘Wichita, known hybrids, seedlings and native pecans. A $100 grand prize will be awarded to the best overall entry.

“Western Schley' and ‘Wichita pecan varieties will be the main categories for the contests because they are the most widely planted in the Western region,” Herrera said. “If you think you have a good pecan sample and don't know the variety name, send it anyway, and we'll put your entry in the correct contest division.”

Pecans will be judged on kernel percentage, color and uniformity. Herrera said contest entrants should harvest immediately following a nut drop to prevent pecan kernels from rotting in wet soil and to preserve the nut's golden color by minimizing sun exposure.