See our Feb. 10 update, "Severe Mexican vegetable shortages expected into March."

Many importers of Mexican fruits and vegetables are still waiting to assess the effects of a freeze the night of Feb. 3-4, but some already are reporting extensive damage.

Nogales, Ariz.-based Ciruli Bros. expects total losses of its remaining Sinaloa-grown green peppers, eggplants, green beans and shadehouse cucumbers, partner Chris Ciruli said Feb. 7.

“Through the weekend we received reports that were worse than what we initially thought,” Ciruli said.

Green peppers and green beans had been expected to ship possibly through March, eggplant into early April and cucumbers into May, Ciruli said.

Ciruli Bros. will know better the fate of its tomato and colored bell pepper crops Feb. 8 or Feb. 9, Ciruli said.

Tomato losses were first estimated to be in the 20% range, they could wind up being closer to 50%, he said.

In Sonora, some growers expected total losses of squash and melon crops.

Mexican markets for affected vegetables were “red hot” Feb. 5-6, Ciruli said. U.S. prices should rise early in the week before perhaps stabilizing Feb. 9 or Feb. 10 at levels remaining to be seen.

Feb. 7 was too early for an accurate assessment of damage, said Gil Munguia, operations manager and sales manager for L&M Cos. Inc., Raleigh, N.C., but initial reports were not good.

“We’re gathering intel to try to figure out what to quote on what little product is coming in,” he said. “It’s pretty severe.”

Amy Adams, marketing manager of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, said Feb. 7 it would be a few days before the industry could accurately gauge damages.

The freeze, which covered a wide swath of Mexico, is the worst in as many as 60 years, some industry members said.


In Florida, Jim Monteith, sales manager for Pacific Collier Fresh Co., Immokalee, Fla., said buyers should expect big volume to hit in mid-March on bell peppers and squash.

“We haven’t run much volume since the December freezes,” he said Feb. 3. “On bell pepper, we run only one day a week, maybe two days with light volume. We normally would be going every day.”

Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, Fla., said buyers shouldn’t expect much green bean and sweet corn volume from Belle Glade until late March and early April.

“Growers are getting to the point to where they’re growing out of any freeze damage and it should be good quality moving forward,” he said. “The spring crop is unaffected by the weather. If the weather cooperates, we would love to hit March 15-20 but a few cold spells could push that to late March.”

Eastern editor Doug Ohlemeier contributed to this story.