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Mexican grape industry convenes for preseason meeting

Hector-Platt-Juan-LaborinHERMOSILLO, SONORA, MEXICO — Hundreds of upbeat Mexican grape industry members — and their industry affiliates — gathered in this Sonora city April 19-20 to discuss the coming table grape crop, other related issues and enjoy a reunion with old friends.

Marco Camou Sr. of Carmel Vineyard, Gilberto Salazar of Videxport and Marcos Molina Sr. of Grupo Molina.

This fourth-annual grape symposium’s climactic moment was the announcement of the 2018 Mexican grape crop export volume estimate — 15.8 million cases. This is an average-sized crop but well below last year’s record 21 million exported boxes. Industry leaders Marcos Molina, president of AALPUM, and Juan Laborin, director general of the association, both directed a strong message to North American produce buyers that there will be plenty of fruit available for spring promotions.

AALPUM, has recommended promotions for various varieties, running from May 11 until July 2. The earliest grapes from Sonora are to be picked in the first days of May.

Key shipping areas in Sonora are Guaymas, which is warmer and, generally speaking, has the earliest grapes; Hermosillo, which has large vineyard to the north and west of town, is the center of the deal; and Caborca, not far south of the Arizona border, which brings on a large volume of table grapes late in the Mexican grape deal, ending in the early days of July.

New plantings in Jalisco, far to the south, are gaining maturity, with volumes becoming statistically significant in a year or two. Mexican growers are also beginning to plant grapes in northern Baja. That production is a couple of years out.

The meeting commenced on April 19 with a tour of the La Florida vineyard, operated by the Platt family in the growing district Pesqueria, which is about 25 miles north of Hermosillo.

A long entourage then drove to nearby La Mercedes, a large vineyard owned by Grupo Molina. Suarez Brokerage, based in Nogales, sponsored a steak dinner that was presented under green-lit palm trees and a clear black sky. Music from The Beatles provided upbeat background music on a perfect, warm evening.

Beyond the grape estimate, the April 20 Symposium, held at Hermosillo’s Los Lagos golf club, included an analysis of Sonora weather patterns, which are expected to continue an ongoing trend of warmer, drier growing seasons.

Benjamin Grayeb of Protección Agropecuaria Compañia de Seguros S.A., a key leader in Mexico’s avocado trade, reviewed the remarkable growth and promotion of his industry. He encouraged Mexico’s grape growers to increase their contributions for a generic promotion of their fruit.