Heavy losses expected for Mexico's top apple state

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Heavy losses expected for Mexico's top apple state

Production in Mexico's leading apple growing state is expected to be cut in half this year due to the effects of drought and unusual frosts, website Eleconomista.com.mx reported.

Government figures show the state of Chihuahua accounts for 70.5% of the country's 565,900 metric tons (MT) of the fruit produced annually. Durango is Mexico's second-largest apple growing state at 8.7%, followed by Coahuila (7.8%) and Puebla (5.8%).

Regional Agricultural Union of Fruit Growers (Unifrut) president Roberto Flores Medina told the website a best case scenario for his entity's 2,500 growers would be production of nine million cartons of apples, compared to the usual figure of 18 million.

He said the main harvest season in Chihuahua would start this month and the predictions were made based on the amount of fruit on trees that still looked healthy.

"It's difficult to say how many growers have been affected as all regions in the state have damages - however, employment is definitely in danger," he was quoted as saying.

Mexico consumes around 735,725MT annually of which around 30% is imported from the U.S.

Flores Medina said the apple floor price had doubled due to the lack of production in Mexico and the U.S., with prices ranging between MXN10-13 (US$0.76-0.99) per kilogram.

"We could be seeing possible future increases according to the supply and market demand, especially with the impact that the price of United States apples could have, where we have information that production is also very low."

He said his organization had been in constant contact with state authorities requesting resources for assistance, but the government had not taken heed.

"This just has to be endured, because there isn't the money to cover the damages we have."

However, Chihuahua Rural Development secretary Octavio Legarreta Guerrero told the website resources had been given to between 600-700 small growers in the regions of Namiquipa and Bachiniva.

Legarreta Guerrero said around an amount of around MXN2,200 (US$167) per hectare had been given to farms with no more than 10 hectares each.

The secretary said growers with farms larger than 10 hectares were not receiving funds, but in the past the government had helped with irrigation systems, machinery and hail protection equipment,

Medium-sized grower Zaira Quintana said the frosts in March and April, combined with drought, meant this year has been "criminal" for growers.

"It was the same for everyone. With the hail there weren't flowers for the fruit, so where are we going to invest for next year?"

Quintana said the question for her now was whether to fire eight workers who would normally harvest fruit this month in Namiquipa.


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