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Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 2:58pm
HATCH, N.M. — Red chile harvest is about to get underway in the Hatch Valley and the crop is expected to be good, but it does come after losing a lot of the green chile crop.
The rain slowed the harvest of green chile for growers who now have to deal with dying plants from too much rain.
"It hit us just at the wrong time as far as chile is concerned," said Jimmy Lytle of Hatch Chile Express and Solar Farms.
The season has been challenging for growers with no rain at the start of the season, then a poor water allotment from the Rio Grande and recently too much rain is killing plants.
Lytle said he has seen about two weeks of steady rainfall from mid to late September.
"We had seven inches in seven days," Lytle said.
Because of that, he was unable to get people on the field to collect green chile and lost about 10 days worth of harvest.
"We couldn't get into the fields so all that chile is going to turn red," Lytle said.
While red chile is still profitable, losing the crop is not so a big concern for Lytle is battling disease in his fields.
Phytophthora has been causing his plants to die from having too much water.
It attacks the roots of the plant causing them to dry out and eventually kills the plant.
"The pods rot and they fall off the plant," Lytle said.
Coupled with a lack of labor is causing big losses for growers like Lytle who estimates about 10 percent of his crop has been lost.
But even with a tumultuous year, Lytle expects to close out the season strong.
"The red harvest looks like it's going to be pretty good," he said.
The red chile harvest will start at the beginning of October and will be found throughout hatch and even through online ordering.