Asparagus production hit by Caborca’s frigid winter

Agronometrics in Charts: Caborca’s frigid winter taking a toll on asparagus production

Agronometrics in Charts: Caborca’s frigid winter taking a toll on asparagus production

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the factors determining the variation in the inflow of Asparagus into the US this season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.


The region of Caborca in Sonora is a major producing state for Asparagus in Mexico; it produces around 194,223 tons every year, which amounts to about 61.8% of the domestic production. Around 35,000 acres of asparagus are planted in this region, according to the Caborca Vegetable Producers Association. 

The region includes about 30 companies that grow asparagus, mainly from January to April. According to industry projections, asparagus volumes will be limited going into March and bigger sizes will be scarce. Although cold weather in Mexico didn’t irreparably damage asparagus crops, it has impeded growth significantly. 

Asparagus production in Caborca typically peaks in February with around 20% of annual production while volumes continue to flow in until March. As depicted below, peak volumes of around 8.3 K tonnes were recorded so far this year from Mexico, a 45 percent drop compared to the previous season. 

A bleak winter, blustery winds and frost were the main culprits for the reduction in volumes, according to the Caborca Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association. Incoming volumes are largely contingent on the weather in Caborca in the next few weeks.


(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics. Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

As the Mexican season kicks in, the Peruvian season ebbs. Peruvian asparagus faces stringent restrictions upon entry to the US. The United States is the main destination for Peruvian asparagus and requires it to be fumigated, which generates less added value, additionally, competition with Mexico is fierce. 

"We are aware that in the current situation we are competing with other crops that are more profitable. We also know we face labor issues, increasing production costs, logistics problems, that crops are aging, and, most importantly, that we must deal with health issues,” says the director of the Peruvian Institute of Asparagus and Vegetables (IPEH), Jose Antonio Castro. 

The transportation of asparagus from Peru to the U.S. incurs exorbitant prices. Additionally, shipping the vegetable from importers’ warehouses to customers’ distribution centers in the U.S is a cumbersome task. 

The United States is the only destination for Mexican asparagus and the only market where Peruvian and Mexican asparagus compete head-on. In this market, Mexico has a 65% share followed by Peru with a 34% share. 

As evident below, asparagus imports from Peru peaked at around 3.7 K tonnes this season. Volumes in week 9 stood at around 108 K kgs. Volumes will continue to dwindle in the following weeks as the season closes. 


(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics. Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Prices in week 9 stood at around $20.10 per package, a 85 percent hike compared to the last season. Prices in the following weeks will largely depend on temperatures in Caborca, with higher temperatures increasing the likelihood of a drop in prices.   


(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics. Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Asparagus is a highly sought after ingredient in soups and fresh food products. There is an ever increasing demand for it in pickles, soups and sauces. According to the Caborca Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association, March will largely define the trend for the rest of the year. Despite setbacks, production is expected to pick up momentum in the following weeks. 

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