EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Chile season is late this year and some farmers are struggling with preserving any crops, having to deal with drought, shortages and higher prices. 

Chris Alexander, the owner of Ristramnn Chile Co. in Las Cruces, said he didn’t have any chile at his farm this year because of a short irrigation period. 

He explained the farmers in the area only got five weeks of irrigation instead of three months, which was only enough for the chile seeds to sprout, and nothing more. 

The Elephant Butte Irrigation District is in charge of supplying farmers with water in both the Las Cruces and Hatch areas.

KTSM reached out to them, however, did not yet receive an answer about how the irrigation system works in the area and what determines the amount of water that will be dispersed for the season.

“I had some people come in yesterday and ask me how much is chile and I said 90 cents a pound and they said it’s too much,” said Alexander, explaining the chile shortage is causing the prices to go up as well. 

Alexander gets his chile from other farmers in the Hatch area because his farm and other smaller farms in Las Cruces were not able to water their chile crops enough unless they had a private well. 

He explained that the lack of crops is not only hurting his business, but it’s also depriving everyone of the Valley-grown types of chiles, which are different from the ones in Hatch. 

“Hatch chile is grown in sandy soil, which produces a more tangier and tart chile than Valley chile. Valley chile is grown in heavy clay soil, therefore, it is able to produce heavier, thicker chile with a more sweet flavor,” he explained.

The chile season also started a month later this year, instead of in July. 

Alexander explained this is affecting the availability of green chile. 

Because the chiles are being left in soil longer, they are maturing more and the humidity is also making them turn red faster.

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