Mexican table grape crop to be lower and earlier than last year
The Mexican table grape season is expected to begin earlier and be significantly smaller than last year.
Mexican table grape association AALPUM on Thursday held an online Facebook live event amid the Covid-19 outbreak to update the industry on expectations for the crop.
The industry is expecting a 20% year-on-year drop from 23.6m cartons to 19.7m, which is largely the result of frosts at the start of the year. There have also been several rainy days as well as cloudy weather over recent weeks.
Last year's season was much later than normal and saw a huge concentration of volumes in June.
The first shipments of Mexican table grapes to the U.S. are expected to begin in the last few days of April, with promotable volumes available from mid- to late-May for around five weeks, said Juan Laborin, general manager of AALPUM.
In terms of specific varietal groups, the Perlette crop is expected to decline considerably from 1.7m cartons last year to 800,000 this year.
"We had a freeze and a couple of rain events that lowered the temperature and impacted on total production - Perlettes were hit the most," Laborin said. "Every year we have less and less, then we had the freeze and then lots of bunches dropped due to the cold and nasty weather."
The early green seedless grapes are one of the very few categories expecting to see an increase, with a forecasted rise from 2.6m to 2.8m cartons. This category was also affected by the frosts, but there are new hectares coming into production and maturing, more than offsetting the weather impacts.
These first few categories are expected to see promotable volumes in the U.S. from May 18 to June 14.
For red seedless - which includes Flame, Arra-29 and Sweet Celebration - is expected to fall from 10.8m cartons to 8.6m. The drop is largely also due to the frosts and cold weather. The peak volumes are expected to come from May 25 to June 30.
Mid-season greens, including SugraOne, Sweet Globe and Ivory, are set to decline from 5.1m to 4.2m cartons. Climate fluctuations and declining SugraOne hectarage were the main contributing factors to the drop. These should see promotable volumes from late-May to late-June.
Red Globes, which have been declining for the past few years, are expected to come in around at 300,000 cartons - the same level as last season.
Black seedless volumes are expected to fall from 1.9 to 1.5m cartons and will be available throughout the season,
The 'other' category, which includes many new or trial varieties, is expected to rise from 1.2 to 1.5 cartons.
Laborin noted there would be plenty of Mexican table grapes available for both newer markets like South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and China, as well as its traditional markets in North America.
He also emphasized that although Covid-19 isn't believed to be transmitted by food, the Mexican grape industry has reinforced all its strict food safety protocols, has limited access to farms, and is working with the government to provide training sessions to growers.
Mexican table grape supplies typically arrive in the U.S. market at the end of the Chilean season and just before the Coachella Valley in California gets fully underway.
Correction 23.03.20: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Covid-19 is believed to be transmitted by food.