The Roma variety now represents more than 57% of Mexican tomato production. Mexican shade house tomato production is increasing at 15% per year, but 30% of current shade house facilities are vacant.

Those are just a few of the interesting nuggets in the annual report on Mexican tomato production, issued recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The USDA said that 2011-12 tomato production is forecast at 2.1 million metric tons, up from the freeze damaged output of 1.81 million metric tons in 2010-11.

The report said that statistics from the Nogales/Tucson border crossing reflected a 31% decrease in exports during the September 2010 to May 2011 period in comparison to year ago numbers.

As to the growth of protected agriculture, the USDA noted the Census Bureau reported that 33% of all tomatoes imported into the U.S.  from Mexico during MY2009-10 were shade/greenhouse tomatoes.

The USDA said total planted area for tomatoes  has been decreasing steadily in Mexico, from 85,500 hectares in 1990 to 75, 800 hectares in 2000 to 57,300 hectares in 2011. The decline in acreage does not mean production is declining, however, as producers find greater yields in expanding greenhouse and shade house production.

 

From the report:

 For example, tomato-producing states like Sinaloa and Baja California are switching from open field production to greenhouse production and using less area while increasing yields. In addition, some projects in, for example, some areas  of Queretaro and Oaxaca, are producing tomatoes under protected agriculture as the technology is supported, partially, by the government.

There has also been a gradual switch from open field tomato production to protected production. Greenhouse/shade house operations are concentrated in the states of Sinaloa, Baja California and Jalisco, but there are also greenhouse operations in the states of Colima, Mexico, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, and Zacatecas. According to industry sources, there are probably over 4,000 ha of protected agriculture throughout Mexico devoted to tomato production. According to sources, protected agriculture is growing in Mexico at about 15 percent a year, as producers increasingly become aware of the benefits in production, quality, pest control, and reduced risk exposure to climate change. Moreover, there is growth in protected agriculture as the government, at various levels, sees the benefit of introducing this production method to rural and poorer areas as a form of social development.

In Sinaloa, a winter tomato producing state, there are about 15,000 ha devoted to tomatoes of which approximately 1,700 ha are under protected production. Due to strong returns, production has trended towards increased use of shade houses, mainly for products destined for the export market.

Growers, however, indicate that combining open field and shade house production has been useful for the market. However, sources point out that there is little agricultural sophistication (i.e., lack of established marketing channels, insufficient capital, and ability to manage weather events),  and, sometimes, growers abandon these facilities. Through a recent study, the Mexican Association of Protected Horticulture (AMHPAC) found that, out of  the approximately 9,000 ha of greenhouses existing in the northern states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Baja  California Norte, and Baja California Sur, 30 percent were not operating.  

 

TK: You will find much more of value in the report, including a table on cost of production for greenhouse, shade and open field tomato producers in various Mexican states.