Hard Times for a Hot Commodity, the Prized New Mexico Chile

HATCH, N.M. — In all her eight decades of farming in southeastern New Mexico, June Rutherford has never seen a chile season this bad.

“The weather hasn’t been a bit good for chile,” said Ms. Rutherford, who was recently crowned Queen of the Great New Mexico Chile Taste-Off, in Socorro, N.M., about 110 miles north of Hatch.

At 95, Ms. Rutherford is the matriarch of the Franzoy family, one of the first to commercialize the Hatch chile, a mainstay of the farm-based economy here and a brand known around the world.

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