While tomatoes consumed shippers’ thoughts, consumers bent on honeydew had to pay the price for light supplies of the melon coming out of Mexico.
“Comparing January 2012 to January 2011, I don’t think we’ll make it to 25% of last year’s volume,” said Miguel Suarez, managing partner for MAS Melons & Grapes LLC, Nogales.
“We’re selling for prices I’ve never seen before on honeydews.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, unofficial prices on Mexican honeydews crossing at Nogales were $20.35-23.95 for 2/3 cartons of 5-6s on Jan. 30.
Not many were crossing, though. Only five loads entered the U.S. in a recent reporting period, said Shelley Harrison-Valdivia, vice president of Nogales-based Al Harrison Co. Some of those crossed at other ports.
The effects of October’s Hurricane Jova on the Colima crop, the emergence of a virus that yellows plants and the lag caused by replanting all played a part in the shortage, grower-shippers said.
Volume should build gradually each week, Danny Mandel, president of Rio Rico, Ariz.-based SunFed said in early February.
Central American honeydews were also in short supply.
Ciruli Bros. has a late deal on green, yellow and gray squash, plus bell peppers, out of Hermosillo that starts in mid- to late-February and goes into the first week of May. The company’s late cucumber deal, in Caborca, goes into the first week of July.
“It looks like normal volume on those commodities,” Ciruli said.
The Sykes Co., Rio Rico, offers squashes now through May. Bill Sykes, president, said he expects the company’s watermelon deal to start up in the first week of April.
Al Harrison Co. does substantial volume in acorn, spaghetti and butternut squashes.
“All of the hardshell has been fairly short,” Brent Harrison, president, said Jan. 30.
“A light freeze around Christmas affected some Mexican crops. They replanted and supply will increase for February and March.”
In late January, fields were just being broken in Guasava, Mexico.
To its usual lineup of mangoes and hot peppers, Nogales-based Diazteca Co. plans to add cactus leaves.
“We’re not growing those,” Liz Lizarraga, saleswoman, said Jan. 25. “We’re buying them to import from Mexico.”
Mexico production is year-round on nearly all commodities, but moves around.