Among the commodities that will be offered by Fresh Farms in Nogales, AZ, during the coming spring season are watermelons, and the company’s watermelon program is “very large for us,” said Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing.
“We had good volume last year, but we will be up slightly” this year, with “maybe a 10 percent increase,” he said. The company’s watermelons are being grown in Hermosillo and Guaymas in the state of Sonora, Mexico.The harvest will start in Guaymas in early April, then move into Hermosillo, with shipments expected to continue into the third week of June.
New for Fresh Farms this season is a small grape tomato program, Mr. Havel said. A grower in Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa “is giving us a little bit of product, so we are dabbling into the grape tomato business. We would like to actually expand” in the tomato category with more grape tomatoes as well as with Romas, he said.
The company is back into pickles this year after a brief hiatus, Mr. Havel said. “This is the first year we have gotten back to pickles in the last three years, and it looks like we are going to get more involved in pickles into the spring.”
The winter season had gone “pretty well” so far for Fresh Farms, Mr. Havel said Feb. 4. “We have had a good volume of Italian squash, yellow and gray squash” and also “good amounts on all the hard squashes — Butternut, Kabocha, Spaghetti and Acorn Squash.” In addition, “our cucumber deal has been very, very good.” Green beans have also “been a good item for us.”
The company has a greatly expanded green bell pepper program this year. It is “the first year we are growing in volume, and our quality has been outstanding,” Mr. Havel said.
The market for most items in the winter deal was steady “until it got cold in January,” he said. Then, as with many other growers, “we lost a substantial amount” of product due to freeze. “With the lack of supply, the prices have been really, really good” for what product has been available. The prices adjusted according to the diminished supply, “and the market has been strong since the cold weather” for most commodities. “I think that is going to continue through the month of February until the spring deal starts back up in Hermosillo,” he said.
“For our program, what was affected was zucchini, yellow and gray squash and some of the hard squashes. It really didn’t affect our cucumbers very much, and it did not affect our green bell peppers very much, and green beans not at all.”
Fresh Farms’ beans are being grown in Culiacan, “and our guy down there did not get affected” by a mid-January freeze that hit growers in southern Sonora and northern Sinaloa, Mr. Havel said.
Going into the spring season, “we will pretty much have all the hard squash, all the soft squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, green beans and pickles — all of those items into May,” he said. “Then of course we start our grapes in May.”
On sales at Fresh Farms, in addition to Mr. Havel, are Alan Voll, Marco Serrano and Robert Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez is a new sales trainee who started last fall and is “working out very well for us,” Mr. Havel said.