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The Nogales, AZ, produce deal is often thought of primarily as a winter deal out of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. But Sonora, the state immediately north of Sinaloa that borders Arizona, has a heavy production in various commodities during the fall season and was in full swing when The Produce News spoke with some of the distributors in Nogales in early November. Some products from Sinaloa had also begun to arrive.

"We've been going for about five weeks" on some items, Bill Spence, sales manager at Sandia Distributing Inc., said Nov. 3. We started early with some watermelons out of Caborca [Sonora], some honeydews, some mini-seedless [watermelon, and a little bit of hard-shell [squash], specifically acorn, banana, butternut and spaghetti, as well as some soft squash such as zucchini.

The mini-melons are almost over now, he said. The honeydew crop has been outstanding, and those, too, are almost coming to an end.

The regular-sized seedless watermelons, however, had just been going about two weeks in Sonora. Those will continue for another month, he said. By then, the company will be bringing watermelons up from the state of Jalisco in southern Mexico.

Zucchini is expected to continue for another two weeks from Sonora, and by then Sandia will be receiving zucchini from Sinaloa, he said. So we are really getting going now.

Growing conditions in Mexico this year have been excellent, he said. Markets started out good, but its been a little slow here the last three or four days. He expected the Thanksgiving pull to start within four or five days, and he expects Thanksgiving business to be very good.

Weve been going pretty strong since the first part of October, said Brent Harrison, president of Al Harrison Co. We started off pretty strong with good demand for our product, but an increase in volume caused our prices to fall down substantially. It looked like there was just too much volume for the demand at that time.

We have started hard-shell squash, Mr. Harrison said Nov. 3. We started acorn squash here last week. That has been a nice deal because we have had good volume and good movement on that.

He expected spaghetti squash and butternut squash to start within a week. We will continue to harvest and pack hard shell until probably mid- December in Sonora and then transition to Sinaloa with strong production from January through April.

He expected to finish watermelons in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico at the end of November, and he anticipates a little gap between the northern and the southern regions on watermelon production.

Chuck Thomas, president of Thomas Produce Sales Inc., which brokers all produce items that come through Nogales, said Nov. 3 that bell peppers were just starting, cucumbers have been going for a few weeks now, and honeydews are coming in pretty good. There are a lot of watermelons in town, and prices have been dragging, he said.

Weve got some chilis just starting up and eggplant is just getting going, he added.

Most of the products currently crossing into Nogales were coming from Sonora, Mr. Thomas said. But in Sinaloa, the Los Mochis area is starting and Culiacan is starting with a little bit of stuff.

Some hothouse Euro cucumbers and some hothouse tomatoes had begun to arrive, and hothouse peppers were a couple of weeks off, he said.

Mr. Thomas expects to see decent supplies of many products available for the Thanksgiving pull. I dont know about beans, he said. Three or four shippers will have enough volume to cover ads, but most seem to start their beans the week after Thanksgiving.