have large areas where considerable amounts of manual labor are used. They need to keep people employed. The average wage for a Mexican orchard worker is $200 pesos per day ($10 US). Ladies on the packing lines average $220 pesos per day. The average net profit per hectare

for growers in the old spaced system is around $4,000 US. The modern high-intensity growers earn around $14,000 US.

Bank interest rates are from 20-32 per cent per year. This explains why not everyone is in the high-intensive, modern fruit-growing systems. The grower must save earnestly to be able to go into these systems a little at a time.

Mexico’s largest apple producers are fully integrated — from growing the fruit to the final buyer — and have state-of-the-art packing facilities.

Hail is always imminent and ranges in size from peas to golf balls. In the past it has hailed hard enough to collapse hail structures. The average temperatures in spring are similar to ours. Summer temperatures can go as high as 45 C creating sunburn issues. Winter temperatures also are similar to ours, down to -25C with occasional snow of no more than 5 centimeters. Rain is rarely over 100 milimetres per year (last year being an exception, it having rained 90 mm during July to September. Rain outbursts are common in this semi- arid climate).

The industry produces

approximately 30-60 per cent of the apple consumption needs of Mexico, completely depending on the above environmental conditions. The orchardists’ goals are to peak on size 125/138 as that is what the market there desires. There was some argument about that with some of the more modern, up-to-date growers, who felt that larger sizes had a place in the Mexican market and could make them more money. The average apple production is around 22 million bushels; last year it went down to around 13 million due to weather conditions. Thus, importation is a must; the market is

24 very good.

Most of the imported apples come in from the U.S., some from Chile and New Zealand, very little from Canada. The market is continually being invaded with American apples being sold under cost. Dumping claims by the Fruit Growers’ Union are mostly on a yearly basis. The packing houses are all private, selling their apples to brokers who then sell to retailers in the bigger centres of Mexico.

The largest producers are fully integrated — from growing the fruit to the final buyer. They have state of the art, modern packing facilities, however do not utilize them, in my opinion, to the fullest as they still

One of the most impressive things about the Mexican apple industry is its value-added businesses. Nothing goes to waste. From juice plants to concentrate plants to apple pulp for baby food, jelly and marmalade production, liquors, all apples produced are used.

ABOUT THEWRITER Cawston’s Doug Boult been an orchardist since graduating high school in 1978, farming with his parents. He currently runs 22 acres of all high-density Super Spindle apples. Boult has won the Golden Apple award once and the Compact Apple award twice with two different orchards and systems. “I became interested in the Super Spindle system in the early nineties,” he says, “gradually transforming all our current acreage. We had some very high-quality expert horticulturists such as Mathaus Meuller, Peter Waterman and Fritz Nuberlan, who greatly assisted us with the learning curve.”

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2018

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