Hatch chile growers adapt to current conditions

Hatch chile growers adapt to current conditions
Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 10:26pm

The now world famous Hatch chile is nearing harvesting season in early August.

While a lot of people might argue about hot or mild, or red or green, most would agree the quality of the chile is second to none.

"They say you got me hooked and now they order it by the case," said Gilbert Pino, of Gilly's Hatch Valley Chile Company.

Pino, who has been in the chile business for about 25 years said the product is so good it sells itself.

That's why he gets customers from all over the country stopping at his store whenever they can.

"You get people from Canada, people from France and from England and all over the world," Pino said.

For those that can't make it to Hatch, New Mexico, Pino like other vendors have started shipping.

Pino has even been shipping overseas and cost has not been an issue in some cases.

"It's sometimes costly but the people don't mind because they want it and have to have it," Pino said.

But getting the chile on the table has become increasingly more difficult.

With the recent drought, crops have been smaller due to farmers relying on groundwater.

"We have some fields that are up to average and some fields that are way down," said Jimmy Lytle of Solar Farms and Hatch Chile Express.

Lylte, a multi-generation grower, said the river has less salt in the water that stimulates more growth.

He has installed a drip irrigation system at one of his fields that waters the roots of the chile plant directly, avoiding evaporation.

Lytle also breeds his own chile and supplies his own seed.

"The chile crop has gotten better than it used to be years ago," he said.

Due to some of those changes out in the field, vendors should still have a product to sell to their customers.

"We'll just keep our fingers crossed and pray that we have a good year," Pino said.

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