US vegetable imports to slow after snow hits desert

Supplies of vegetables coming through Nogales are expected to slow down over the next week after cold weather and snow impacted the desert regions the last few days. Heavy snowfall and temperatures approaching 0 degrees Celsius were reported for much of the region and a number of US importers are expecting production to slow down, including on leafy greens and green onions.

"There has definitely been an impact on fresh produce coming through Nogales," said one produce broker based in Nogales. "It seems that all vegetables growing in that area have been affected. Although we don't know yet exactly how much has been lost, damaged, or delayed, we can certainly expect to have tighter supplies shortly."

Image: Miguel Gomez

Felix Peralta of SunFed specified which crops they have seen losses in so far and also noted that in other areas, there is a seasonal slowdown which is exacerbating the issue. "There are partial losses in squash, cucumber, bell pepper, and watermelon," he said. "Besides the partial losses, the remainder of the good crop is entering a stage where the growing cycle is slowing, making it difficult to harvest on time, and will affect supplies for around two to three weeks."

Fortunately, transportation to the border and beyond doesn't seem to have been affected. "We have not experienced any big impact in terms of transportation due to the weather," Peralta added. "We experienced more delays due to the Holidays. However, these delays have not been significant, being in the order of a few hours."

Image: Miguel Gomez

Asparagus harvest delayed
The asparagus harvest for many growers typically begins in northern Mexico during January. Donald Alford of Altar Produce said the company's asparagus harvest in Caborca will likely be delayed due to the cold weather. He did however note that their season has been progressively moving forward each year, meaning that the start of the harvest will be close to the traditional average for Altar.

"The cold weather will delay the asparagus harvest in Caborca by a week to ten days," Alford shared. "It will actually take it back to what it was before, as in recent years we have pushed the harvest forward by a few days."

Alford added that the cold weather actually helped their asparagus crop as it occurred before the harvest. He did have some concerns for other crops though. "The cold weather helps with the dormancy so that the crop is ready to kick off when we do start," he said. "It would have done damage if the harvest had already been underway. We may see some losses and shortages on other crops however including lettuce, broccoli and green onions although we won't be certain for another few days. We also grow leafy herbs like parsley and cilantro in the areas at this time of year. These have inconvenienced us the most, particularly with the green onions and lettuce."

For more information:
Miguel Gomez
Ph: +1 (520) 761-6800

Donald Alford
Altar Produce, LLC
Ph: +1 (760) 357-6762

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