Nogales, az — The winter vegetable shipping season became one where growers of many commodities produced in Florida and Mexico walked away from flourishing fields. Their alternative was to pay more money to harvest the perfectly healthy food and then spend for grading, packaging and transportation — and go even deeper below offered prices.
“Hopefully February will be better than January,” said Montie McGovern, co-director of Frank’s Distributing of Produce LLC. “January was about as bad as it can be. It was about the worst I can remember,” noted the industry veteran who began his career in the trade in the early 1970s.
What made this season so remarkably bad, he said, was that it “wasn’t just one or two commodities. It was across the board because everyone had good weather — all the growing areas in Mexico, plus Florida. I saw comments from Florida that blamed Mexican tomato growers” for the bad season. It was not Mexico. You can look for something to blame but that was an unwarranted comment. It doesn’t happen this way very often.”
Mexico’s infrastructure moves to improve productivity with greenhouses and shadehouses added not only to the quality but the abundance of vegetable crops early this season.
Now the industry wonders about planting decisions and the ominous prospect of more perfect weather — for this spring.
Frank’s Distributing producing tomatoes, mini-peppers and cucumbers in central and northern Baja from June to December. “There is an overlap with Sinaloa,” McGovern said. The firm also produces in Sinaloa from December into June with the same items, plus eggplant, squash and heirloom, round, Roma and grape tomatoes.
“We are heavy to organics,” McGovern noted.