Mexico may have a better climate for growing fruits and vegetables than many other regions of North America, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still big risks associated with open-field production.

As a result, many Mexican growers of produce slated for U.S. markets are adding more greenhouse, shade house and other forms of covered acreage.

Vegetable acreage in the Si-naloa growing region of Mexico has been steady in recent years for Nogales-based Farmer’s Best International LLC, said Rick Burkett, a salesman for the company.

But production has gone up, Burkett said, and with it, quality. There’s no mystery why: the grower-shipper is growing more of its vegetables in shadehouses, he said.

“We’re producing more on the same amount of acreage, and the quality is more No. 1 (grade),” Burkett said. “We’re adding more shadehouse acre-age every year to our ranch in Sinaloa.”

Depending on the planting schedule, the cover over vegeta-bles may be made of glass, mesh or plastic, Burkett said.

What doesn’t change, he said, is the end product.

“It pays off, quality-wise,” he said. “It’s a big investment initially, but in the long term, it really pays for itself.”

The Nogales office of Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos. also expects to bring in more shadehouse-grown fruits and vegetables from Mexico this spring, said Nick Rendon, division sales manager.

The reason is clear, Rendon said.

“Better production.”
Ciruli Bros. LLC, Nogales, also will have more vegetables grown under cover this spring, said Chris Ciruli, a partner.

All of the company’s spring cucumbers will be grown in shadehouses, and more of its romas and other tomatoes, starting in June, Ciruli said.