Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mexico: Crop Freeze, Price Increases and Unemployment

Word from produce powerhouse FreshPoint about the recent freeze in northwestern Mexico at the beginning of February when temperatures dipped into the mid-20's  for up to 6 hours:

MEXICO FREEZE: CULIACAN UPDATE:  On Wednesday February 9th 2011, Quality Assurance traveled to Culiacan Sinaloa Mexico to visit and view the impact the recent freezing temperatures had in the growing region and surrounding areas. Initial assessments after the freeze had outlined an event not seen in the region since 1957.

Produce endured low temperatures on February 3rd and 4th for a period 1 ½ to 6 hours in length at anywhere from 22 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures were cold enough to impact all open field (85 to 99% loss), shade house (60 to 80% loss), and green house (10 to 30% loss) grown product in Mexico.

The mass of cold air cut a swath from Mexicali to the Nogales Border down into Mazatlan and portions of Baja California San Quintin.

At the time of the freeze production in the area was in full swing from Hermosillo in the North and down through La Cruz Sinaloa along the highway 15 Corridor of Mexico. About 80% of Mexico’s production has been affected. It has been reported that in Sinaloa alone, 714,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) were affected by the freezing temperatures. An Area covering approximately the size of the States of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

In addition to the loss of vegetables, tomato, and corn crops; 200,000 to 300,000 farm workers have also been affected by the frost. The mass migration south of unemployed agricultural laborers will begin between mid to late February as production slows in the region. Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon also visited Culiacan on February 11th, assessing the damage and pledging support in the form of seed vouchers and emergency aid.
Other highlights of the report include bad news for tomatoes (Roma quality to vary, open field tomato plantings a total loss, grape tomatoes extensive damange); cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers (all total losses); squash (small plantings survived).  There are limited crops that were harvested after the freeze, but quality will be poor.  Time estimates for plant recovery ranges from 4-6 weeks (tomatoes), to 45-60 days (squash), 6-8 weeks (bell peppers), 4-5 weeks (cucumbers) and gone for the season (eggplant).

Plan menus accordingly.

No comments: