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Baja production areas escape worst of Jimena

by Tim Linden | September 08, 2009
On Sept. 1, in advance of Hurricane Jimena, unstable weather conditions produced a tornado effect that tore through an Andrew & Williamson Sales Co. Inc. cucumber farm in Baja California, ripping out a 12.5-acre shade house. Farm managers prepared for the worst as the storm headed directly up the center of Baja, with expectations that it would go right over the major tomato-producing area a day-and-a-half later.

"Luckily the majority of the storm passed 250 miles south and never got to us," John King, vice president of sales for the firm, told The Produce News. "We got about three inches of rain, which will reduce our tomato yields in October, but we had no other structural damage."

Mr. King said that because of the heavy rains the early October, tomato volume would be off. "By October 15th or the 20th, normal volume should return."

Mr. King said that there is some tomato production near where the eye of the storm passed in southern Baja, but it is relatively small compared to the production in the middle of the peninsula where the A&W farms are located.

"There probably was some damage down there, but I have not heard any reports that it was significant," he added.

Jim Cathey, general manager of Del Campo Supreme Inc. in Nogales, AZ, concurred that the damage to Mexican crops by this storm was minimal. "There was a lot of rain, which I am sure caused some problems but not enough for anyone [in the United States] to feel it. Demand has been so-so all summer, so I don't think it will even be felt if we have a 10 [percent] to 20 percent drop in volume because of the storm."

Mr. Cathey said that as the storm veered east across the Baja peninsula and over mainland Mexico, it did drop heavy rains on some other production areas as well, but again not enough to cause major problems. He said most fields have already been planted for winter production but are in very early stages of growth, so the rain shouldn't be a negative factor.