West Mexico suppliers expect good volume this season despite some weather challenges. ( iStock )

Mexico dealt with some of the problems that plagued colleagues in the states, encountering several rain events — including three hurricanes in a five-week period early in the fall planting season.

Hurricane Sergio swept across Baja California in late September, and then, Willa and Vicente blew into the mainland within a couple of weeks.

An unnamed tropical depression socked Sonora, drenching the region.

Through it all, the crops have persevered, suppliers say.

“We’ve already seen the production go off with a good start on some product on the northern part of Mexico,” said Alex Leon, salesman with Nogales, Ariz.-based brokerage Bernardi & Associates Inc.

“Quality has been so-so, which is expected in a new starting area, but overall, we expect things to change.”

Leon said he foresees no shortages.

“If anything, people have increased production,” he said. “There will be plenty of product.”

The rains had abated by mid-October, leaving ideal growing conditions, said Jim Munguia, sales manager with Nogales-based Del Campo Supreme Inc.

“There was quite a bit of rain earlier, so there wasn’t a lot of planting done,” he said. “All it did was delay our planting schedule. We’ll come in at roughly the same volume.”

The tomato and pepper crops looked good, Munguia said.

“We were delayed due to the weather, but we should be in around the second week of December, with West Mexico starting,” he said.

The deal should last into May, he said.

Del Campo was harvesting from its greenhouses by Oct. 26, Munguia said.

It’s been a “really weird year” for weather in Mexico, and more could be on the way, said Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing with Nogales-based Fresh Farms.

“I think the biggest challenge is going to be the weather. Now, they are talking about possibly being an El Niño year,” he said.

“Yields are off. As storms come in and out, things are going to go up and down on the supply side. Prices will go up and down.”

Havel said he did anticipate “good supplies” going into Thanksgiving and Christmas, “unless we get some bad weather.”

In general, volumes out of West Mexico should be normal, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

“There have been some tropical storms that may impact field-grown crops in the coming months,” he said. “Generally, we anticipate volumes to track previous seasons. Most years Nogales grows 1% to 3% in total volume.”

Excess rain has brought some challenges with crops in Sonora and Sinaloa, said Jaime Chamberlain, president of Nogales-based Chamberlain Distributing Inc.

“We know that some products will be affected more than others, and some crops may be in production for a shorter period of time, especially in Sonora,” he said.

“Some Sinaloa crops start dates will be pushed back two to three weeks.”

There’s an upside, he said.

“All these weather events make for good markets,” Chamberlain said. “We have had great cucumber, bell pepper and squash markets for the last two months.”  

Optimism was the theme at Rio Rico, Ariz.-based MAS Melons & Grapes LLC, said Mikee Suarez, salesman.

“Luckily, no crops were washed out, and going forward, everything looks good,” he said.

“If weather permits, we’ll be able to harvest out of Caborca and then Hermosillo until mid-December. Then, we’ll move on to Colima, starting in mid-December to about March. So, we’ll have continuous supplies of watermelons, honeydews and mini watermelons from now until mid-July.”

The Caborca and Hermosillo melon deals were overlapping in late October, said Scott Vandervoet, partner in Nogales-based Vandervoet & Associates Inc.

“We’re seeing quite a bit of honeydews available,” he said. “There’s potential for an earlier-than-normal conclusion to the fall honeydew deal out of Sonora. Usually, Caborca takes the October market and Hermosillo has November. But this year, they kind of bunched.”

The watermelon market was steady, with as many as 100 loads a day crossing the border at Nogales, Vandervoet said.

 
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