Salesmen Billy Donnelly (left) and Brian Itule check out some mangoes at Ciruli Bros. LLC. The company has a major mango program and plans to add more fruit items in the spring, says partner Chris Ciruli. ( Courtesy Ciruli Bros. LLC )

Many of the produce items shipped from West Mexico during the spring are similar to those that arrive in winter. However, fruit items, like melons and mangoes, tend to have a greater presence as the weather warms up.

Bernardi & Associates Inc., Nogales, Ariz., ships significantly more melons in spring than in winter, said salesman Manny Gerardo.

The company had light supplies in February, but its watermelon, honeydew and mango programs typically ramp up by April to keep up with consumer demand, he said.

Gerardo hoped conditions would be better this year than they were last year, when a cold spell struck Mexico in mid-April and had an effect on melon and grape volume.

“Production was down tremendously last year,” he said.

In late February, he said it was too soon to tell what the crops will look like this season, but he expected good quality as long as weather conditions remain favorable.

Bernardi & Associates should have cucumbers and squash into June.

Bell peppers from Mexico will wind down in late April, when the company switches to California’s Coachella Valley for red and green peppers.

Round tomatoes likely will slow in April, but romas grown in northern Sonora should remain in good supply, Gerardo said.
Ciruli Bros. LLC, Rio Rico, Ariz., has a big lineup for the spring, said partner Chris Ciruli.

“Everything we have in the deep part of the winter, we’re trying to promote in the spring,” he said.

“We have found it to be very advantageous to try to go 52 weeks on all the products.”

Cucumbers will be a strong vegetable item for spring, he said, along with green and red bell peppers.

Ciruli Bros. also has a major mango program and plans to add more fruit items in the spring, including honeydew melons.

Nogales, Ariz.-based Crown Jewels Produce also will continue to offer many of its winter items like bell peppers and eggplant into April and cucumbers and squash through May or June, said Jesus Gonzalez, general manager.

But the main emphasis for spring will be melons — honeydew, cantaloupes and watermelons — and grapes, he said.

Melons will start in April, and the target date for table grapes is around May 1, he said.

Weather could delay the start of the melons, Gonzalez said.

“Cold, overcast weather has been the norm all winter season,” he said.

He was optimistic about the coming grape crop.

“Everything is starting to bud,” he said in late February, “and we’re hoping for good volume, but it’s still early.”

Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International expects to have increased production of its red, yellow and orange sweet mini peppers in Culiacan and other growing areas this year, said Jeff Taylor, managing partner.

Production on those items and green bell peppers started to ramp up in the fall and should continue through spring, he said.

Hot and cold temperatures and alternating heavy then light supplies combined to make volume “a little erratic,” but Taylor said the crop seemed to come through the varied conditions quite well.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the quality that’s been able to come out of the adverse weather conditions,” said Taylor.

Green bell peppers could experience slightly lighter volume going into the spring season, he said, and they could wind down earlier than normal.

Green bell pepper production in Mexico should start wrapping up by March 11, he said, with perhaps two weeks left after that.

Open-field red bell peppers were still in full swing, and 11-pound red, yellow and orange mini peppers should be in heavy production from March until mid-April. 

Much of the spring crop from Nogales-based Chamberlain Distributing Inc. will mirror its winter crop, said Jaime Chamberlain, president.

“Everything that we have in winter, we’ll have in spring as well,” he said.

That includes cucumbers, bell peppers and several varieties of tomatoes.

In all, the company distributes 5 million to 6 million boxes of produce annually, he said.

The company will have blocky red bell peppers in 11-pound packages and elongated peppers in 15- and new 25-pound packages.

Chamberlain Distributing is one of the few distributors that still offers cherry tomatoes, he said.

Industrywide, grape tomatoes now outsell cherry tomatoes about 10 to 1, Chamberlain said.

But Chamberlain believes that cherry tomatoes are great tasting, versatile and have a more consistent flavor than grape tomatoes. 


Related articles:

California Spring Vegetables

West Mexico Spring Produce