Mexican pomefruit production to rise, grapes to fall in 2011-12
Mexican apple and pear production is set for a slight rise this season while freezing temperatures are set to impact table grape harvests, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report.
The USDA Global Agricultural Information Network’s (GAIN) ‘Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual’ reported that Mexico’s main apple-growing state Chihuahua was expected to boost production through higher use of intensive management practices.
The report forecast 605,000 metric tons (MT) of apples in 2011-12, 25,200MT of pears and 210,000MT of table grapes.
The report said the apple production estimate meant a 3.2% rise on 2010-11 figures, but dry weather led to fewer large sized fruit.
The total planting area is expected to decrease marginally during the 2011-12 season, with Chihuaha representing 43% of the area, followed by Durango (18%) and Puebla (14%).
“Growers indicated that Mexico’s planted area is not expected to expand much due to higher costs of production, limited credit availability, and water scarcity,” the report said.
“Producers in Chihuahua generall use more advanced production technology than other states, resulting in higher quality apples. Industry sources report that large-scale and technologically sophisticated growers in Chihuahua are renewing old orchards and planting with greater tree densities.
“There is also more investment in cold storage facilities using controlled atmosphere technology and hail protection. According to growers, about 40 percent of the apple are in Chihuahua utilizes advanced technology.”
The report said 41% of Mexico’s apple planting area is with the Golden Delicious variety and 34% is with Red Delicious apples.
“The Gala variety comprises about five percent of the total Chihuahua planted area and continues to gain ground. High-density varieties account for approximately 30% of Chihuahua’s planted area.”
The report said growers are not investing heavily in pear cultivation due to high production costs, while scarce water supplies and disease problems have also limited production growth.
“However, some growers have started to experiment with planting more disease-resistant and longer shelf varieties,” the report said.
The states of Michoacan, Puebla and Morelos are the country’s main pear-producing areas and make up 76% of Mexico’s production.
The report said the state of Sonora accounts for 82% of total table grape planting area, but is losing vineyards due to higher costs of production. Many growers are now starting new plantations in the state of Baja California as it is seen to have better weather conditions.
“Area planted for MY (marketing year) 2011/12 is forecast to increase only marginally from MY 2010/11 as higher costs of production resulting from fluctuating exchange rates does not allow for larger increases,” the report said.
“The good export season and good international prices should encourage producers to keep similar acreage as the last marketing year.”
The story reported production costs have increased in recent years, while expansion is limited due to water scarcity in Sonora’s aquifers.
Photo: Vanguardia, Hector Garcia