Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buenas dias

I just returned from Chihuahua, Mexico where I attended the NC-140 Annual Meeting. (Well actually I am in Tucson, AZ right now for a few days of R&R after a busy summer and fall harvest, but more on that later.) We traveled in Mexico from Chihuahua City, to Nueva Casas Grandes, to Cuauhtemoc for orchard tours and the meeting venue at La Nortenita Fruit Company. (I could not find a website for La Nortenita?) I could probably go and on about this visit to Mexico, but it's likely I won't get to it. Thus, quick impressions of my visit:
  • our hosts, Carlos Chavez, University of Chihuahua, and Rafael Parra, INIFAP were very gracious (among others) and eager to show us the Mexican apple industry and infrastructure
  • Delicious and Golden Delicious are the primary apples grown; all are sold to the Mexican market and they like sweet apples -- Gala is gaining a foothold; Mexico produces app. 30 million 42 lb. bushels annually (vs. U.S. 200+ million)
  • orchards are mostly on semi-dwarf (MM111, M7) rootstocks; some orchards are experimenting with dwarf rootstocks, however, the high soil pH and hot environment seem to be particularly stressful to these rootstocks
  • most (viable) orchards are covered with hail nets
  • La Nortenita Fruit Company is state-of-the-art storage, packing facility, and sales house -- unsurpassed by no one in the world if I had to guess
  • Mexicans eat a lot of apples (app. 12 lbs. per person, vs. U.S 18 lbs.) and are proud of their role in North American history, despite what may seem to be many years of slavery and strife; Dr. Terence Robinson from Cornell University, a decendant of Mormon settlers and farmers in the Nuevos Casas Grandes area told of the history of the Mexican people and was also very gracious in hosting the meeting along with his fellow Mexicans
I am going to get together a photo album of orchards we visited, and video of La Nortenita Fruit Company packing house someday -- will update ASAP.