“We are well into our fall and winter watermelon season, and we are handling expanded acreage this season,” Gill Munguia, division manager for the Nogales, AZ, division of The Giumarra Cos., said Nov. 21. “We have also added mini watermelons or personal watermelons to the mix.”
The watermelons are being grown in Hermosillo and Guaymas in the state of Sonora, Mexico. The company was currently shipping out of Hermosillo but was “just getting ready to transfer from our northern farms in Hermosillo down to Guaymas,” where production would continue through the winter.
Giumarra’s watermelon acreage for mid-winter is not as it has been during the fall, he said, “but we definitely are going to be gearing up again in the spring. We are going to have a huge spring deal. I think we are going to be up about 30 percent on our seedless watermelon acreage for the spring, and again we will have the minis as well.”
The firm was also well into its vegetable deal. “We are shipping hard shell squash or winter squash,” Mr. Munguia said. “We’ve got Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti and Kabocha.”
The hard shell squash, which are being grown in the Hermosillo area, are “a great item to mix with the watermelons,” he said. The harvest started in October, “and we will probably go through January.” That will be followed by a second planting “that we will get into in probably mid to late February.” There is just a short window between the crops, and “we are going to try to narrow that gap” in future.
Giumarra also has “a full line of vegetables” out of Guaymas, both conventional and organic, he said. That harvest was already underway. We’ve got pretty much everything.”
Additionally, “we are just about to start our mature greens out of Baja.” That program is all mature greens, both open-field and shadehouse. “We had a little bit or weather down there. That hurricane that blew through caused a little bit of damage on our open field crops” which will probably be down about 40 to 50 percent in production as a result.” However, in the shadehouse production, other than a little bit of bloom drop, “the plants were unaffected, and it looks beautiful. We are going to start that probably this weekend,” which would be right after Thanksgiving.
Tomato production will go all the way through the winter and into spring, “probably even into May, weather and markets permitting.”
Giumarra has been growing mature green tomatoes in shadehouses for a couple of years now, “and we have had tremendous results,” Mr. Munguia said. “Our program continues to grow in that direction.” He said he is unaware of anyone else who is growing mature greens in shadehouses.
With the conversion to protected agriculture, Giumarra is “planting less acreage overall,” Mr. Munguia said. “In fact, pretty much all of our products now except the watermelon are going to the controlled agriculture process. We have really had great success and much better yields” as well as “better conservation of water” and less use of fertilizer. It has been a much larger initial investment than planting open field, he said, “but in the long run it has done a world of good, not only for the company but for the land, and water is such an issue now not just in Mexico but everywhere. So we are doing a good job of managing our resources down there.”
In all of its operations, The Giumarra Cos. has a strong focus on food safety. “We’ve got every certification known to man,” Mr. Munguia said. “We are at the highest levels of food safety, security, all that sort of thing.”
With regard to logistics, “we have a logistics company within the Giumarra Cos.,” Mr. Munguia said.