A drop in production caused by higher temperatures hit this year’s Peruvian mango exports, but experts are forecasting better yields for the 2010 crop.
A two-degree increase in temperatures in the main growing regions of Piura and Lambayeque, in northern Peru, reduced the 2008-09 mango crop to 33,000 tons, compared to the 132,000 tons produced during the 2007-08 growing season.
“The climate has not been the best,” said Reynaldo Hilbck Guzmán, president of Piura’s Chamber of Commerce, speaking to local paper El Comercio in late July, summing up the 2009 season.
Mangoes are highly sensitive to temperature change, and the temperature increase is being blamed on El Nino, which disrupted the normal fertilization process, experts said.
Guzman, who forecast a yield of 66,000 tons for the 2009-10 season, also said mango plants tend to produce good crops every other year.
Peruvian producers are also considering technical means to improve yields.
“Mangoes are very sensitive to climate change, but what happened this season can be managed by pruning, fertilization and technical irrigation,” said Gustavo Hernández Jiménez of Frutos Olmos, Lambayeque.
Jiménez warned that concrete results won’t be known until December, and said too much rain another El Nino phenomenon in normally dry Peru could spoil the fruit.
Mangoes are an important commercial crop for Peru, with 45% of exports currently going to America, just over 50% to Europe, and the rest to China and Chile.
The 2009 season, which ended in April, saw exports to America down by more than half, to 34.4 million pounds, from 86.6 million pounds in 2008, according to the National Mango Board, Orlando.
American buyers said they had been forced to look for alternative supplies, from Mexico for example.
One buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was in Peru this week looking for 385 tons of frozen mangoes, but had only been able to secure about a third of that.
“I will get about another 44 to 55 tons from Mexico, to cover customer needs till the end of the year,” he said.
Peru’s Association of Mango Producers and Exporters predict a slight fall in mango prices, after a 74% rise last year.
Ken Nabal vice president of sales and logistics for Frontera Produce Ltd., Edinburg, Texas, said end of season pricing in Peru had been high, and said he hoped the coming season would be “more normal.” Nabal said current mango supplies from Mexico were dwindling and prices were currently nearing US$4 for a 4-kilo (9-pound) carton.