Mainland peppers on track to start in late December

12/04/2013 04:19:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Courtesy Ciruli Bros.Ciruli Bros. offers hot peppers, including serranos and jalapeños from its west Mexico operations. The peppers began shipping in mid-November, partner Chris Ciruli says.Mexico production of red, yellow and orange bell peppers got under way in Baja California, Mexico, for Prime Time International LLC in late October.

Mike Aiton, director of marketing for Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time, expects the action to shift to Culiacan, Mexico, on the mainland, close to Jan. 1.

“All in all, it looks like things are transitioning well,” he said Oct. 31.

“There aren’t going to be any gaps or supply interruptions. We’re fortunate there have been no significant weather occurrences of any impact on quality or yield.”

In Culiacan, Prime Time has tripled its acreage of mini sweet peppers from last year, reflecting growing demand for that crop.

“We’re like every other grower,” Aiton said. “At the beginning of the season, everything looks fantastic.”

Ciruli Bros. LLC, Nogales, Ariz., started hot peppers such as jalapeños and serranos — up about 25% in acreage this year — around Nov. 18, but shadehouse-grown green bell peppers out of Culiacan weren’t expected until early December. Colored bells are projected to follow in mid-December, partner Chris Ciruli said.

“On a normal year, we should already be into green bells and cucumbers,” Ciruli said Nov. 12. “That we’re not into those two crops yet is an effect of the rain.”

“We’ve had a few setbacks in the vegetable category but once we get into December, it should pick up and straighten out,” he said.

Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce expects to start green bell peppers in Culiacan the first week of December, said Jesus Gonzalez, general manager for the Nogales office.

Red, yellow and orange arrive by mid-month, he said.

L&M Cos. Inc. also plans to start bell peppers close to Dec. 1.

“The crops have been through a couple of major rain events, but growers have been working hard to get them back healthy again, and we expect pretty decent yields,” said Greg Cardamone, general manager of vegetables.

Organic grower-shipper Wholesum Family Farms forecast a 20% to 25% increase in colored pepper volume, with green bell production on a par with last year.

Divine Flavor LLC, Rio Rico, Ariz., started Baja California peppers Nov. 1 and expects to begin production of hothouse bells and mini sweet peppers in Culiacan around Dec. 10, said Pedro Batiz, partner and vice president of sales.



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