Net protection from hail is a major requirement for apple growers in north-central Mexico.


Touring Mexico’s apple industry Similkameen growers get an opportunity to learn about similarities to and differences from our own.

By Doug Boult I

had a great opportunity in late October, early November to tour the apple industry in Mexico. The main apple growing area is in Chihuahua State in north-central Mexico, near Ciudad Cuauhtemoc and Guerrero municipalities. Through a fellow orchardist, Don Barker, I had learned a little of the Mexican apple industry and always had a desire to tour it.

We were invited to do so by Don’s horticultural friend, Guillermo Gonzalez, who first visited our orchards in the Similkameen during the summer of 2017. He was very impressed with our Super Spindle systems.

One of his take-away comments after visiting the local orchards was: “I have never seen so much quality fruit hanging in one place”. We were requested to meet with and give pruning demonstrations for some of the Mexican orchardists

during our visit there. Apples are grown at an elevation of 2,050 metres. To put that into perspective, that is higher than the Okanagan’s Mount Kobau (1,870 metres) and only 100 metres lower than the summit of the Apex ski area. Orchards vary greatly throughout the area. There are plenty of old traditional 20/20 plantings. There are several growers who have embraced more modern methods with plantings of 5/12 as well as a few growers with plantings 2/10.

High density (alta densidad) planting of Galas.

Their costs to plant the high- density orchards are approximately $8,000 US per acre as compared to our $20,000 US. The main varieties grown are Reds, Goldens and Galas. Production is similar to the average production here at 40 bins per acre on the modern, high-density orchards that are well maintained. While water is a huge issue (wells are drilled anywhere from 600 to 1,000 feet), the environmental conditions growers have to deal with seem to be never-ending. To start, after harvest their trees

are chemically induced into dormancy to try and get the chilling days required. In the spring, the bloom can last up to 30 days with the threat of frost going to -7 C in normal years, with some years down to -14. Once, or if they set a crop (thinning is mostly done by hand, with some very light chemical thinning in some orchards due to constant frost concerns) the next issue is hail.

All commercial orchards are hail netted, whether through a structure system or just draped over the trees.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2018 23

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