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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 11:59am

Chile harvesting season heating up in Hatch

Juan Gutierrez
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 10:35pm

It's officially chile harvesting season in our region and some of the best tasting chile comes from the Hatch Valley where the harvest is already underway.

Growers anticipate a good crop even after dealing with poor water conditions all season.

"We've got real pretty chile this year so there's not a problem with the quality and there's not a problem with availability," said Jimmy Lytle of Solar Farms and Hatch Chile Express.

Lytle has spent his life growing chile in the Hatch region.

He said he is thankful for his goof crop after having a poor allotment of water from the river and little rainfall.

"We're lucky we had this crop because of the salt problem we had," Lytle said.

The life-long chile grower had to rely on wells to irrigate his 200 acres of chile.

He said the rainfall came at a good time and expects to harvest a yield of about 20 to 25 tons per acre.

Lytle grows the very popular breed developed by his father in the 60's known as "Big Jim".

The variety is a fan favorite due to its size and meat but it does have somewhat of a delayed kick even though it is typically a medium.

"It's our biggest seller," Lytle said.

He explained the heat on chile is found on the vein and not on the seed or flesh.

The darker shade of yellow on the vein or more veins, the spicier the chile but it's the heat that keeps people coming back for more.

"It releases some kind of endorphins in your brain," said Brian HIllery. "It's just tasty."

Hillery is from Florida but is in the area on business and couldn't leave town without stopping in Hatch.

He is one of the countless tourists that stop at Hatch Chile Express during harvest season.

"People come specifically because they know about Hatch Chile," said Jo Lytle, who runs Hatch Chile Express.

Lytle said once they start roasting chile that's when more people start coming in because of the distinct smell of the chile.

"If I could bottle that smell I could make a bunch of money," she said.

The store roasts chile throughout the day for local customers and even ships out of state.

Some of their orders are sent to Alaska and the east coast.

"They can't get the real stuff and that's where I come in," Lytle said. "I can send it directly to them from our farm to their doorstep."

Lytle said prices are expected to be very similar to last year and there's plenty of availability.
 

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