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As the packingsheds in the southern part of the Mexican state of Sinaloa close for the season, mango supplies are dropping a bit and prices should strengthen, according to a number of U.S. mango importers.

The majority of the production has now shifted to the Las Mooches area in northern Mexico, which is a Medfly-free zone. Typically in mid-August, fly finds in the southern region begin to close those packingsheds as fruit from acreage that has had multiple finds is ineligible to be brought into the sheds where the hot-water treatment is being performed. Some importers said that the multiple fly finds have materialized a bit early this year, which has resulted in the closing of a couple of sheds at least a week or so early.

Larry Nienkerk, manager of Splendid Products LLC in Burlingame, CA, had not heard of the early shed closings as of Aug. 3, but he said that the market was strengthening anyway as most of the sheds were scheduled to close shortly. Splendid is one of the larger importers from the northern district, and Mr. Nienkerk said Aug. 3 that the area was about 50 percent completed and the market was higher.

Bill Vogel, president of Tavilla Sales Corp. in Los Angeles, had heard of some early shed closings and believed the market was reacting to the lighter supplies. He said that the market was as low as $2.50 per carton in late July, but it had jumped by $1 to $1.50 during the first week of August as southern Sinaloa shut its sheds.

Daily import reports showed that volume shipped to the United States from Mexico during the last week of July was running in the range of 150,000 to 175,000 cartons. This was expected to drop significantly in the coming weeks. However, some of this volume will be replaced by Brazil, which has already shipped some product to the United States.

Brazilian mango exporters typically have about a five-week window, from mid-August into late September, when they are a significant supplier of mangos to the United States.

This year, Brazil has gotten off to a stronger start, and exporters are hoping to lengthen their window by a couple of weeks.

Ecuador will be the next major exporter of mangos to the United States, with first arrivals from that country expected in late September.