Mexico: Large blackberry surface area needs replacing, claims Planamerica

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Mexico: Large blackberry surface area needs replacing, claims Planamerica

Spanish plant breeder Planasa's Mexican subsidiary is advanced in providing strawberry and raspberry varieties to the market, but in recent years the company has made a push into blueberries and blackberries. Speaking with Fresh Fruit Portal, Planamerica commercial development manager Cajeme Argote explains the game plan for improving the country's berry genetics.

Well known for the Adelita raspberry variety, Planasa and its Mexican partners are expanding their berry strategy in a country that has seen solid export growth in recent years. 

Planamerica commercial development manager Cajeme Argote.

According to UN Comtrade data, since 2013, Mexico's shipments abroad of strawberries have risen by more than 50%, raspberries and blackberries have almost doubled and blueberries have more than tripled. But the nation still has a way to go in securing the best cultivars for a demanding international market.

"In blackberries it’s definitely an attractive business. There is a large surface area that needs to be replaced – currently in Mexico the blackberries that are there are mostly of the variety Tupy, which is a public variety of Brazilian origin," Argote tells Fresh Fruit Portal.

"It has been in the industry for around 15 years so it’s already degenerated. The plantations that are there are very old and have a lot of problems with quality and phytosanitary issues.

"As it is, the blackberry market demands change, to have something new that doesn’t have as many quality problems. We're betting on that."

Argote says the company, which is jointly owned by Planasa and a Mexican investor, conducted tests last year with advanced blackberry selections catering for aspects such as primocane fruiting, certain flavor characteristics and firmness.

In blueberries the group has been testing growing conditions with public variety Biloxi, but this is mostly just to get an understanding of production techniques and issues ahead of importing plant materials from Spain in "one or two years".

"In blueberries it's just starting out. It's only been three or four years," Argote says.

"That’s why with blueberries we only have public varieties; we’re refining our techniques so that in a few years when our own materials come in we'll be able to do all the propagation and so on."

He says one of the group's more successful strawberry varieties is Sayulita, which was only given a formal name recently.

"It's a Mexican name too like Adelita, but this one's a strawberry. We manage Safari, also in strawberries, which Planasa manages in various parts of the world," Argote says.

He says Planamerica has nurseries in Michoacan, Guanajuato and Jalisco, and more recently in Chihuahua closer to the U.S. border.

"We also have a plant in San Quintin, Baja California. We are building up with some tests in Sonora and we sell in Chihuahua, but 90% of what we sell goes between Michoacan, Guanajuato and Jalisco," he says, adding Planamerica also has its own ranches.

"The main field is for doing plants of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and that's situated in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato with a field of of 52 hectares; close to 30 hectares are protected with different types of greenhouses for different crops.

"We also have a nursery in Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco which is a bit smaller and is transforming to our company’s own production. We will start to provide fruit in the supply chain.

"In Zamora, Michoacan we also have a ranch for the production of fruit on close to 40 hectares."

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