“One of the beautiful things about (protected agriculture) production is that it is not just of extremely high quality, (but) it is also highly predictable as far as its arrival to market,” Mandel said.
Although crops in protective structures still can be affected by weather variations, Mandel said the effects usually are miniscule compared to effects on field crops.
SunFed increased its protected agriculture area of cucumbers, colored bell peppers and roma tomatoes by a total of about 350 acres this year, Mandel said.
In late November, Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International LLC was harvesting colored bell peppers from hot houses in Coachella and from Baja California Sur, Mexico, said Mike Aiton, marketing director.
The Coachella hot house pepper season got under way Nov. 15, a typical start date, he said.
“The object is to get them available for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are great cooking holidays,” Aiton said.
Prime Time also grows hot house peppers in mainland Mexico. It grows red, orange and yellow bell peppers as well as colored mini sweet peppers, and offers both field-grown and hot house-grown peppers year round.
The firm designs, builds and operates its own hot houses, and all of its peppers are packed in packing houses that operate using identical standards and technology all year round, Aiton said.
Alberto Maldonado, general manager of Apache Produce Imports LLC, Nogales, Ariz., said the tomatoes, European cucumbers and colored bell peppers Apache will market this winter are on schedule.
The company’s growing entity is Plain Jane Produce Co., which grows in the Culiacan, Sinaloa, area of Mexico.
In late November, Apache was marketing European cucumbers from Sinaloa, and Maldonado said he expected tomatoes to be ready by mid-December and colored bells in January.
San Antonio-based NatureSweet Ltd.’s tomato crops also were on schedule in late November, said Bobby Patton, vice president of marketing. Its growing operations are near Guadalajara, Mexico.