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Ciruli Bros. increases plantings of hot peppers

Ciruli Bros. LLC in Nogales, AZ, has increased plantings of hot peppers in Los Mochis in northern Sinaloa, Mexico, but has held steady on other commodities, according to Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer.

The company is optimistically looking for a good season, he said, partly due to apparent improvements in the economic climate. “The stock market is doing better,” and the employment outlook is trending favorably, “so hopefully disposable income for people to shop more is out there.”

The season got off to a later-than-normal start for Ciruli Bros. “We are running from two to three weeks behind the normal start date due to weather we had in early October — the heavy rains,” Ciruli said on Nov. 13. “We got going with eggplant first,” and expected to be starting hot peppers, green beans and green bell peppers all within the next week.”

Cucumbers were most affected by the weather, Ciruli said. “We should [normally] be seeing cucumbers right before Thanksgiving out of Culiacán [Sinaloa], and we are not going to see those until probably the second week of December.”

Tomato products, on the other hand, appeared to be running on time, he said. “Most tomato products will start around the 20th of December with both Romas and rounds,” which is about normal. “We don’t see any effects on those dates. Those should be as scheduled coming in.” Those are also grown in Culiacán, as are the green bells.

In Los Mochis, the green beans would be the first items to start. “We are looking forward to [having green beans for] a good two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, so there should be some good demand there,” Ciruli said. “It is a very good time to have green beans.”

He expected peppers in Los Mochis to start Saturday, Nov. 16. Those would consist of Jalapeños, Serranos, Anaheims and tomatillos.

“We saw good demand there last year, and we increased plantings on the hot pepper items,” he said. “The rest of the items, we pretty much put the same acreage in.”

Ciruli expected colored bell peppers to start in Los Mochis probably the first week in December and in Culiacán about a week later, with “very similar acreage” to last year in both areas.

In tomatoes as well, “we feel that staying conservative” and going with the same “volume that we moved last year should make good sense going into this winter deal,” he said. “We planted a normal crop for what we have planted the last three years.”

There has been considerable speculation regarding whether the new, higher minimum prices for tomatoes from Mexico specified under the terms of a new anti-dumping suspension agreement that took effect in March would affect tomato acreage planted in Mexico. “But we did not increase any of our production seeing that there was going to be more demand for those items in the wintertime, nor did we decrease thinking that people were going to use less than they did last year,” Ciruli said.

In the end, weather conditions will be the main factor influencing demand, he said.

Regarding the suspension agreement, “we are going to comply with whatever the government requirements are.” Customers are all “well aware” of the new minimum prices, he said.