In the end of April, beginning of May, there was a small blip up seen on the radar of total production. Lasting less than 2 weeks. And the majority of farms quickly returned to a steady production that mirrored harvest volumes they had been doing weekly for the months previous.
This year we are experiencing a different challenge. The El Nino effect for Costa Rica which means 1/4 the amount of rain. With that reduced rain and clouds, it’s delaying the maturing cycle from 2 to 4 weeks for many farms. Less rain typically means less clouds, which translates into sun burned pineapple and bleached out crowns. End result is a shortage in overall production for Costa Rica that’s starting a month earlier than we have seen over the previous 5+ years.
A new factor that is reducing the amount of fruit overall is the farms are reducing the sizing curve to avoid the largest fruit, size 5s. Over the last 10 years, farms would grow the largest fruit possible to achieve the highest yields and could sell anything not exported to be processed locally into juice or frozen fruit products for a price that covered the growing costs. Minimal risks. For the last quarter of 2022 and for all of 2023, any case harvested of large fruit that isn’t exported would create a loss so big it could wipe out the profits of 5+ cases exported. With a potential loss of that size, it makes sense that we have seen less 5s overall year to date coming out of Costa Rica and expect this shift away from 5s to be a new reality at many farms.
At Stella Farms, we continue to cater to our consistent contract customers and enjoy producing the large fruit of highest quality for each of them. Because of our boutique farming done on a medium scale, we continue to do great things and maintain a quality for our loyal customers each and every year.
Pineapple imports into the U.S. will continue to be very light as the main production area in Veracruz State continues to deal with the annual NDF period in that growing zone. This time of year, quality control is extremely challenging as minimal brix levels of 13 tend to be very difficult to achieve due to the extreme growing conditions. The good news is that all of our farms are indicating that quality will start to improve the beginning of September and by October we should see strong production numbers and very good quality. This will allow for promotions during the important Fall holiday time periods and the sizing curve will see bigger sizes than what we’re expecting out of Costa Rica.
We’ve finished our domestic watermelon production for the 2023 season, but we’ll be starting with Mexican watermelon production in late September and will continue with imports from Mexico throughout the Fall and Winter.
We are now reaching month four of our nine month production cycle in the region of Michoacan. The crop is still considered young and healthy and should be hitting peak production all through September and continue with consistent production until beginning of December. Volume will drop about 30% when it starts to cool down with less sun hours and colder weather but we will continue to have production with quality tomatoes all through the winter ending production sometime in February.
Mango season is currently in its final stage being July and August are the last months for mangos out of Mexico. Sometimes it extends a week or two into September, but safe to say through August. Growing region is currently in the state of Nayarit and the variety being harvest are Kents! Nayarit should continue and overlap with the next and last growing region which is the state of Sinaloa starting late July with the Keitt variety! There should be good supply from now until the middle of August and then volume will start to decrease for the last 2-4 weeks of the season in Mexico.
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Scottsdale, AZ 85258