Mangoes and grapes could be among the casualties of an early February freeze in Mexico, but they won’t be nearly as hard-hit as vegetables.

Mexican mangoes, grapes likely affected by freeze

Early estimates put mango losses in the Los Mochis growing region at 25 to 40%, Larry Nienkerk, partner and general manager of Splendid Products, Burlingame, Calif., said Feb. 8.

Trees that were in bloom when the freeze hit are unlikely to rebloom, he said.

“It’s a major part of the deal,” Nienkerk said of mango acreage in Los Mochis.

There could be long-term effects, with potential mango tree damage in Los Mochis, Nienkerk said.

On Feb. 8, Nienkerk was still waiting on damage estimates from the state of Sinaloa, but he doubts if trees suffered damage.

Accurate mango damage estimates would not be available for at least “a number of days,” William Watson, executive director of the Orlando, Fla.-based National Mango Board, said Feb. 8.

The freeze had not affected mango prices as of Feb. 8. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $3.50-4 for one-layer flats of South American kents, down from $7-8 last year at the same time.

It was too early in the season for the USDA to have prices on Mexican mangoes, but the department said reportable volumes are expected the week of Feb. 14.

Mexican grapes

Temperatures in some Mexican vineyards got as low as 26 degrees and stayed there for several hours, said Omar Abu-Ghazaleh, imports manager for Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit.

While it was too early on Feb. 8 to gauge the extent of damage to grapes, there will be some, Abu-Ghazaleh said.

“We need another month to see the effects, but for sure there will be some,” he said. “Shoots are out, up to a foot long.”

The Mexican grape deal is set to get underway about May 1, Abu-Ghazaleh said.

Because the season is running late this year, Mexican grape growers likely dodged a bullet, though it was too soon to tell for sure, said John Pandol, director of special projects for Pandol Bros. Inc., Delano, Calif.

At the time the freeze hit, no more than 30% of buds had come out, and not all areas were affected, Pandol said.

“One guy I talked to said, ‘If there would have been an early bud break, who knows what would have happened,’” Pandol said.

Mexico typically ships 15 million boxes to the U.S., and based on early reports, Pandol was cautiously optimistic that 2011 could wind up being a normal season.

“I don’t know that we won’t be in the upper part of that (volume estimate), but it’s still premature,” he said.