Dry weather deals a blow to Mexican apple production
Mexican apple production is expected to drop 30% during marketing year (MY) 2012/2013 (August/July), a result of dry conditions and atypical frost in main production zones, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported.
Although Mexico is poised to continue overall growth, thanks to greater planting density, average yield is forecasted at 8.9 MT/hectare (Ha), down from 11.09 MT/Ha in MY 2011/2012. Total output for the year is forecasted at 430,000 tons (MT).
Production in the main apple-producing state of Chihuahua is expected to drop 50%, down to 220,000 MT, with fruit expected to be of a smaller size.
The poor forecast is also expected to influence the U.S. market where a 20% decline in consumption is anticipated due to higher prices for both domestic apples and imports. Accordingly, exports to the U.S. are expected to drop 10% to 12%, although consumer demand will remain strong.
On the Mexican end, apple imports from the U.S. should remain high. More than 90% of Mexico's apple imports come from the U.S.
The U.S. remains the principle supplier of deciduous fruits to Mexico. In October 2011, a 10% tariff on U.S. deciduous fruits was lifted in Mexico, lowering prices and encouraging imports.
Despite anticipated losses in the Mexican apple supply, Chihuahua-area producers are reportedly taking measures to stay competitive. The state is considered the most technologically advanced in terms of production, resulting in higher quality apples. Growers are also working to renew old orchards and increase plant density, the USDA said.
The state debuted Gala and Golden Supreme varieties in August. Golden Delicious apples are the principle variety in Chihuahua, filling 60% of the planting area.
For other deciduous fruits from Mexico, the USDA reported a marginal increase for pear production and slightly higher table grape production thanks to favorable temperatures and cold hours.
Pear production is not expected to show significant increases in the near future, due to lack of investment resulting from high production costs. Grape industry growth is also limited due to high production costs and water scarcity.