Importers expect productive winter from West Mexico crops
Growers in West Mexico offer a wide range of winter produce, and despite some planting delays, product already was arriving through Nogales, Ariz., in November, and distributors were reporting good quality on all commodities.
IPR Fresh, Rio Rico, Ariz., expects to see an increase in its squash this season, said Jose Luis Obregon, president.
Soft squash started shipping in mid-October, and hard squash was scheduled to kick off in early December. Both kinds should be available from IPR Fresh until mid-May.
The company also is shipping slicer cucumbers, which should continue through mid-May, and European cucumbers, which should continue through mid-April.
“The quality looks fantastic,” Obregon said.
Volume should be similar to last year on cucumbers, European cucumbers, eggplant, roma tomatoes, round tomatoes and Italian, yellow and gray squash from Tricar Sales Inc., Nogales, said Rod Sbragia, director of sales and marketing.
Planting was delayed a week or so, but Sbragia did not anticipate any major delays. In fact, cucumbers already had significant volume in mid-November, he said.
Pickling cucumbers from Nogales-based Lisa Inc. started on schedule in October, said salesman John Lichter.
Volume should be similar to last year, and he described quality as “very nice.”
“The weather has been favorable,” he said.
The company expected to start jalapeño peppers by the end of November.
Lichter said supplies of jalapeños could be tight for a time as a result of some bad weather in growing areas in southern Mexico.
“We’ll see what happens when everyone starts,” he said.
Crown Jewels Produce, Nogales should receive steady supplies of gray, yellow and green squash until June, said Jesus Gonzalez, general manager.
“We’re going pretty good right now,” he said in mid-November.
The company usually finishes that program in May but should be able to go a little longer this year, he said.
Weather has been a little cooler than normal, Gonzalez said, but there has been no rain, extreme heat or extreme cold.
“The squash quality is excellent,” he said.
Crown Jewels started slicer cucumbers in September and should have product available from three growing areas until July.
Quality was “excellent,” Gonzalez said, with a wide range of sizes available.
The company also started its eggplant program in mid-November.
Rio Rico-based Vandervoet & Associates Inc. is shipping watermelons from Sonora until December and will start a program from southern Mexico in mid-January that will run until March and also will include honeydew melons, said salesman Scott Vandervoet.
The honeydew market was strong during October and November, mostly because of reduced supplies from northern Mexico, he said. That deal should be over by the second week of December, he said.
A new crop will come on in southern Mexico in mid-January and continue to the first week of March, but Vandervoet said it was too soon to know if the market will remain strong or will start to weaken.
Calixtro Distributing Co. Inc. in Nogales will offer a full line of winter produce from West Mexico, said salesman Frank Calixtro.
Calixtro’s winter program had started “in a slow way” out of Sonora by mid-November, he said, and should continue through April or early May.
After “a few mishaps with weather” that prompted some replanting, conditions had improved, production was picking up, sizing was good and quality was “great,” he said.
One Nogales tomato distributor, speaking on background, said that the new suspension agreement between Mexican tomato growers and the Commerce Department could be very challenging to administer.
In particular, the handler said the agreement takes away the PACA-approved remedy for a tomato buyer receiving product that doesn’t meet quality or grade standards.
“It won’t cause a problem until there’s a problem, but then when there’s a problem, it’s going to be a big problem,” he said.