(Nov. 10) NOGALES, Ariz. — Heavy rains in late October slowed crop progress in Sinaloa, Mexico, but distributors anticipate crops there won’t be damaged significantly.

Between five and 10 inches of rain swamped parts of Sinaloa early the week of Oct. 25, adding a little uncertainty to the quality picture to what promises to be a fairly strong market for end-of-the-year imports through Nogales.

Even before West Mexico production begins in earnest, Baja California tomatoes reaped high prices caused by the shortfall of product from Florida.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Nov. 7 prices of tomatoes crossing through Otay Mesa, Calif., were from $27-29 for two-layer cartons of vine-ripe tomatoes.

Those prices are well above year ago levels, when Baja California vine-ripe tomatoes crossing through Otay Mesa were $12 per carton.

Shipments of Florida tomatoes from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6 tallied 8.66 million pounds, down from 24.09 million pounds the same week last year — a reduction of more than 60%.

Overall domestic and imported tomato shipments the week of Oct. 31 to Nov. 6 were 24.4 million pounds, down 60% from the 61.4 million pounds shipped the same week last year.

In a Nov. 8 report, the USDA’s Federal-State Market News Service reported that vegetable and melon crossings through Nogales the week from Nov. 2-7 were dominated by seedless watermelon, which registered 68 truckloads that week.

Squash shipments totaled 27 truckloads, while honeydew melons registered 26 load and cucumbers tallied 22 loads.

Shipments of all West Mexico vegetables will accelerate seasonally in December and reach peak levels from January through April.

Most distributors anticipate that acreage of tomatoes could be up slightly this year. There is growing interest in hothouse production of tomatoes and bell peppers and seedless cucumbers.