Mexico's biggest freeze since 1957 means US produce price will skyrocket

Freezing temperatures across a wide swath of Mexico the night of Feb. 3-4 have made a big impact in available fresh produce. Expect the effects to be felt in your supermarket any day now.

Mexico freeze threatens vegetable crops

From The Packer Feb 4th, 2011

By Andy Nelson

The freeze reached fields as far south as southern Sinaloa. Crops in the border state of Sonora could be devastated.

“The last time there was a freeze of this severity was 1957,” said Jerry Wagner, director of sales and marketing for Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer’s Best. “It’s still too early to tell, but there’s a lot of damage.”

All of the growing regions Farmer’s Best ships from suffered freezing temperatures, Wagner said. The company’s full line of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash, was likely affected.

One industry veteran told Jesse Driskill, operations manager of the Nogales office of Meyer LLC, that Mexico had not had a freeze like this in 60 years.

What made this one even worse, Driskill said, is that forecasts were 5 to 10 degrees higher than what temperatures wound up being. Many growers took precautions, he said, but they did not harvest early because they did not expect it to get so cold.

From the Digital Journal

Mexico loses 80-100% of crops to freeze, US prices to skyrocket

By Lynn Herrmann. Digital Journal

Houston – The cold weather experienced across much of the US in early February made its way deep into Mexico and early reports estimate 80-100 percent crop losses which are having an immediate impact on prices at US grocery stores with more volatility to come.

Wholesale food suppliers have already sent notices to supermarket retailers describing the produce losses in Mexico and the impact shoppers can expect. Sysco sent out a release(pdf) this week stating the early February freeze reached as far south as Los Mochis and south of Culiacan, both located in the state of Sinaloa, along the Gulf of California. The freezing temperatures were the worst the region has seen since 1957. According to Sysco’s notice sent out this week:

“The early reports are still coming in but most are showing losses of crops in the range of 80 to 100%. Even shade house product was hit by the extremely cold temps. It will take 7-10 days to have a clearer picture frome growers and field supervisors, but these growing regions haven’t had cold like this in over half a century.”

At this time of year, Mexico is a major supplier to the US and Canada for green beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, asparagus, peppers and round and Roma tomatoes. Compounding the problem is the freezing cold that hit Florida in December and January. Sysco continued with its dire report:

“Florida normally is a major supplier for these items as well but they have already been struck with severe freeze damage in December and January and up until now have had to purchase product out of Mexico to fill their commitments, that is no longer an option.”

Validating that statement, The Packer released a statement at the end of December stating:

“Freeze damage to Florida crops could increase demand for Mexican vegetables for the rest of winter, grower-shippers say.”

That December report noted Florida’s cold temperatures and crop loss but was optimistic over Mexico’s produce, even if prices were climbing. “My gut feeling tells me the Mexican deal is going to be very active,” said Ken Maples, sales manager for Plantation Produce in Mission, Texas, according to The Packer.

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ozspeaksup

Many of us have been trying to get people to start home gardens for their own food security, even a small styrofoam box indoors near a window in winter, will give you some food, and its going to be fresh, no chem if youre smart, and as close to free as the cost of the seeds.
GM free as an extra bonus.
the good thing about disasters like this is it may wake people up to the need for local foods, and to get used to eating less food, but better quality.

Mike McMillan

That’s hit the corn crop, too, 16% loss according to BBC. Corn in Mexico is like bread in the U.S. Gonna’ hurt.
Meanwhile we’re subsidizing corn for gasohol.

John Marshall

And the UKMO still expect a warming trend. I am waiting for the US cold to extend across the Atlantic. It does seem to be missing the UK at the moment but hitting Norway. I know, from my daughter who lives there, that Spain is cooler than normal.
Food prices will rise everywhere since the US will import from areas which normally supply Europe and you have more money. When will the powers at be realist the extent that bio-ethanol production has on food prices. The most stupid idea since the taxing of CO2.

Chris F

Hardly what one would expect from global warming…

derise

Prime illustration that it is COLD weather that destroys food production, not warm. The warming that we have had for so long, coupled with agricultural and transportation advances as well as increasing CO2 level have put a bounty of food and food choices on the first worlds tables for years. Cold destroys. Fresh foods will become scarce and expensive in the short run, and depending on continuing weather trends, may continue for the long run.
What will really hurt is a prolonged winter season that affects the summer grain growing season in the north. With just in time inventory control and the diversion of so much of the edible food stocks to fuel production, severe shortages could be a real future.

Latitude

Jan 3, 2011
Florida produce prices up sharply after early freezes
Full story: Palm Beach Post
Prices for sweet corn, green beans, squash and other vegetables have shot up since December’s historic freezes that battered South Florida farms

“Cold snap hits Mexico maize crop” “A spell of unusually cold weather in northern Mexico has severely damaged the maize crop in the state of Sinaloa.” “Officials estimate the losses could amount to four million tonnes of corn – 16% of Mexico’s annual harvest.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12437862
I’m surprised that the BBC didn’t highlight this event as another unmistakable sign of runaway global warming…

Alan Van Buren

Fear the cold, not the heat. (Unless you live on a volcano.)

Bill Junga

Again, warm is better than cold.

Dave Springer

I’ve never thought for a second that the AGW hoax would collapse because scientists, politicians, and other vested interests would suddenly become honest and/or rational. A tiger can’t change its stripes. What I’ve hoped for the last ten years is that mother nature would slap down some cold weather to remind people that global warming is something to welcome and if anthropogenic activities are warding off potential global cooling then all the better. For years I’ve been saying that if anthropogenic CO2 isn’t causing global warming there’ll come a day when we will all wish it had been true. The global food supply is not exactly cheap and plentiful but it’s adequate thanks in great part to global warming and an increasingly fertile atmosphere over the past several decades. Any significant drop in food production that persists more than a year or two, which will happen in a cooling climate, is going to be the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Black Death swept through Europe in the 14th century killing 1 of every 3 people.

Flask

It’s just weather, nothing to worry about…
Amazing, last frost this bad was over 50 years ago, before the “unprecedented” increase in CO2.

Theo Goodwin

I am so pleased to see this incredibly important news on WUWT. I come from a long line of farmers and most nuclear families in my extended family know how to produce a bounty of vegetables on a half acre of land. Yes, we go to the trouble of actually owning a half acre of land. Of course, the sad news is that vegetable prices really are going to skyrocket and all of us, even here in Florida, are going to suffer nutritionally. You might need to start a home gardener’s page.
I am interested in hearing from Gore, Hansen, Schmidt, and all the usual suspects about this Mexican freeze. Caused by global warming, no doubt. The same thing that has caused three years running of freezes and bizarrely cool and uncomfortable weather in central Florida. The crops here froze in December or January, as reported in the article. We are upon the zenith of the azalea season in central Florida and I bet only the real old timers can remember that event occurring in cold weather.

ES

Initial estimates said up to 80 percent of the crops in Mexico were damaged or destroyed by the freeze. Days later, observation experts scaled back those numbers, although that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t expected to be huge.
The cold weather affected new growth that is going to be coming in March. So in March, you are probably going to see higher prices at the supermarket and less supply at the supermarket, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be produce available. There’s going to be plenty of vegetables to come,” Jungmeyer said.
The good news is, since the freeze, growers have reported seeing positive signs in their crops.
“Each day that’s passed since then, we’re finding that there’s less and less damage. It’s not to say there isn’t any damage but we’re finding that the plants will recuperate and we will see harvests,” Jungmeyer said.
http://www.kgun9.com/Global/story.asp?S=14013532

Oliver Ramsay

ozspeaksup says:
February 12, 2011 at 6:22 am
“Many of us have been trying to get people to start home gardens for their own food security, even a small styrofoam box indoors near a window in winter, will give you some food…”
——————————————
No, it won’t!
It will give you a sprig of parsley for your styrofoam pasta.
Agriculture produces food.

RACookPE1978

Photoshop that image a little bit and you’d get a good Google look-alike.
Fear the enviro’s, not the carbon – for the latter protects and feeds you and keeps you warm, the former wants you dead.

DJ

The good news?
Ethanol from corn is exempt from crop damaging weather.
This cold weather won’t affect fuel prices, only food, because ADM has wisely chosen to convert more than 10% of it’s crop land over to corn.
/sarc

BenfromMO

There are varying degrees of subsidence farming, but for the most part, unless you have a large area and a decent lighting set-up complete with water, its difficult to grow much more then “fun” stuff inside….mainly herbs and spices that you can use to spice things up so to speak.
Peppers are another choice that is fairly decent inside, but for the true food, I for one rely on outside plants for my gardens, and if its too cold, that too will be effected. There are crops you can grow indoors, but its mostly the novelty plants, and for the rest you need outdoor type setups. Corn for one is something that requires a very finicky set of conditions and although you can fiddle with it a bit if its summer-time for instance with over/under watering and soil conditioning, it does not stop the fact that some plants just do not do well indoors. That is not to say its impossible, but I truly think corn for one is a plant that is nearly impossible to grow indoors.
On the other hand, I typically have corn year-round because I have an extra freezer and I freeze all the corn I harvest…but thats a different story….

Jeff K

No worries- I hear the twinkie plants did ok though.

DirkH

Extreme warmcold. Stop all CO2 emissions immediately. /sarc

Magnus

Krugman should be all over this in the next NYT.

Theo Goodwin

ES says:
“So in March, you are probably going to see higher prices at the supermarket and less supply at the supermarket, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be produce available. There’s going to be plenty of vegetables to come,” Jungmeyer said.”
Excuse me, but how does it serve me if there are plenty of vegetables at higher prices? Are you immune to all increases in price? Are you not aware that the supply can be enormous while most people are suffering lower quality nutrition? For example, and there are hundreds, throughout this winter I could have bought all the tomatoes I wanted for a mere $4 per pound. That is more than a dollar per tomato. Do you really expect me to pay that? I have not.

pat

The headline in the New York Times will read “Global Warming causes crop losses not seen since the 50s, says expert”.

DJ

What makes this so obscene is that if this were 1973, Hansen, Schneider (RIP), Mann, Gore and the lot would be crying “This is proof of an impending ice age, and man has caused it!”
Their solution would be to geo-engineer a fix, and that fix would be to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible.
How much worse would this have been if the global temperature were not higher due to global warming? How much more crop damage would there be without the benefit of healthier plants due to higher levels of CO2?
If this same weather occurred in 1957, then you’ll not convince me that it can’t or won’t happen again in 2065. All the more reason to have non-climate dependent energy sources at the ready.

Pamela Gray

It’s time to bring back the idea of winter vegetables. The following list is good but completely misses the squash family. These hardy gourds, if planted early enough so they mature before the fall freeze kills the vines, can be stored in very cold temperatures and will continue to provide good food and nutrition throughout the winter. If the fall freeze comes early, you can pick them when still a bit green and they will continue to ripen. We designated one room of the house as our gourd room and just put them down on the bare floor. Because these winter veggies are cold tolerant, their prices may stay down compared to the imparted designer veggies we have gotten spoiled on.
http://www.vegetable-gardening-and-greenhouses.com/winter-vegetables.html

Pamela Gray

imported, I meant imported.

Curiousgeorge

Re: the talk about home gardening – Most people have neither the time, knowledge, or space to grow anything other than window box tomatoes, and that isn’t exactly a well rounded diet. But, be that as it may, those who do embark on the gardening adventure would be well advised to learn the craft of food preservation. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/ . Mason jars would be a wise investment if the predictions of future crop failure due to cold come to pass.

G. Karst

Warming is a pleasant walk in the park. Only cooling can cause anything representing a catastrophic situation for Man. Food must always remain our primary priority, everything else is a luxury. GK

Ralph

Cold = bad
Warm = good

Douglas DC

Mike McMillan says:
February 12, 2011 at 6:28 am:
“Meanwhile we’re subsidizing corn for gasohol.”
This is what I have been saying for years. As DW says:” taking food out
of the mouths of babes is-sinful-you can’t eat natural Gas-use that!”

CLIVE

1) Thanks Oliver Ramsay .. that need saying. It was patently ridiculous to suggest we can feed ourselves from a window box. In Canada we rely heavily on production and transport of produce almost year round in Canada. The 100-mile diet is a silly concept in a cold, northern climate. The idea of year-round production in greenhouses simply does not work. Storage of sme locally grown produce (root crops) is possible but expensive..more so than transportation from the south. Hell.. last summer was so wet and cold in summer than millions of acres of wheat and canola were not even planted in western Canada.
2) Fresh produce is EXTREMELY price elastic and a small reduction in supply can double prices.
Clive

Tenuc

As the oncoming cold weather regime starts to bite, delicate crops will need to be grown further and further south. By changing to more cold tolerant types of crop, farms will still be able to provide plenty of food – turnips again anyone?

mcfarmer

If anyone has it some historical information on freezes like this inMexico 100 ago would be interesting and add to the discussion.(non adjusted temperatures)
A window box is fun but you need additional light to really grow lettuce and such in Feb/March. It is the daylength that plants need. That said you can get some lettuce ,radishes inside but just don’t add in the cost of a light fixture,cost of electricity, seed,soil containers and more. (maybe you can get a goverment subsidy)

Jimbo

Mexico loses 80-100% of crops to freeze, US prices to skyrocket

And they’re constantly trying to frighten people with how a little warmth might affect crops. Cold is the problem and not a tenth of a degree rise in temperature. Only another Mini Ice-Age will knock sense into these morons.

R. Shearer

It is obvious that whatever global warming is, it is not enough to prevent these kinds of freezes. (By the way, vulcanism has on numerous occassions caused similar crop failures even in Summer months even before significant use of fossil fuels.)
In any case, a logical argument could be made that we need both more warming and more CO2 in the atmosphere to maximize crop yields. Of course, even though corn based ethanol does increase CO2 emissions, it is not wise to burn food for fuel.

Martin Brumby

Not a problem.
After all, according to all those who pointed out that freezing conditions in the US and Europe are actually caused by Global Warming, it was in any case really warm in North East Canada and Greenland.
You can just import all your green beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, asparagus, peppers and round and Roma tomatoes from there.
Simples!
\sarc off.

GARY KRAUSE

I’m not sure where Oliver grows his parsley, however we manage to grow enough produce from a 16′ by 36′ garden to feed ourselves and other family for better than a year: planning your planting. Less dependence on a global produce economy that relies on local climate and the economy of transportation/storage/distribution.
On the other hand, we knew this was going to happen, we try to get the word out to stock up; unfortunately, some will take the defeatist remarks of folks like Oliver which only prevents some people from at least making an effort to produce their own food. Any amount of success by the masses takes pressure off the market. Growing your own produce and meat will have a cumulative affect. Less time texting and more time being independent on a system that is susceptible to disasters.
The cluster industry attached to the food production markets will also suffer. Remember what happened to Napoleon. It was the climate that brought the suffering of Europe; unrest and death that defeated the powers of governments. Economies that collapsed as well.

R.S.Brown

Sorry, smokers.
The pot crop that cycles with the corn crop in
that area is up in smoke too,

Douglas DC

Turnips, cabbage ,broccoli, throw’em in a pot with a little Bison, or grass fed beef,
add carrots and you’ve got dinner!I am building a Greenhouse however….

lenbilen

The deep freeze that happened way south of the border
Has led to a food shortage of highest order.
More CO2 please,
Regulations to cease
For freezes like this can cause civil disorder.

James Sexton

Here’s a news flash. Anyone that has been to the grocery store knows that the prices of all sorts of produce are already shooting upwards and have been for some time now. We’ll see, if there is suddenly a shortage of cannabis, then we’ll know the cold has truly adversely effected these crops. I’ll remain skeptical of the gouging until then.

alec, aka Daffy Duck

Food prices and food shortages are going to be the ‘issue of the year’:
Bolivian President Evo Morales flees town ahead of speech after angry miners throw dynamite in protest at food shortages
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356018/Bolivian-President-Evo-Morales-flees-town-angry-miners-throw-dynamite-protest-food-shortages.html#ixzz1Dl9CCFul

GARY KRAUSE

Clive and Oliver must be neighbors.
The middle nineteenth homesteaders of Alberta lived on the land during periods of cold. They prospered by working the land and building local markets that resulted in today’s modern produce market in Canada.
By the way, Canola oil comes from rape seed; a mustard family plant. Canola is a semi-drying oil that is used as lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base, and as an illuminant for the slick color pages you see in magazines. It is extremely toxic. The word Canola was coined to reduce the rape seed fears. Canola oil for consumption has been somewhat detoxified, but not completely. Isothiocynates are prevalent in rape seed. They are used to make mustard gas to kill people in trench warfare. Remember that?
Fortunes are made by the rape seed lobbying the FDA to allow Canola Oil to be marketed as food. Help yourself to a daily dose of glycosides. Do not take my word for it, take a chemistry class, do a lab project around rape seed. Oh, by the way, if you heat it, be sure to do that little experiment under a hood.
Meanwhile, do not expect any help from other country’s to feed you. Asia is cold, India is cold, Australia will be cold again, South America will have another cold winter. This list is getting long.
Best wishes!

Frank K.

Theo Goodwin says:
February 12, 2011 at 7:49 am
“I am interested in hearing from Gore, Hansen, Schmidt, and all the usual suspects about this Mexican freeze.”
Sorry – but they’re off preparing the soil to grow vegetables in their CAGW Victory gardens! I’m sure the dirt in New York City is just perfect for gardening…the crops could be added to their list of “robust climate products”… \sarc

Ian W

If you want to add another worry to this ….the summer could suddenly go bad as well:
“Icelandic Volcano That Dwarfs Eyjafjallajökull Looks Set To Erupt In 2011”
“Einarsson warns that Bárdarbunga could have a much bigger impact — its last major eruption produced a huge ash cloud and the largest identified lava flow in 10,000 years.”
http://www.businessinsider.com/brdarbunga-iceland-volcano-2011-2
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/iceland/8311924/Icelandic-volcano-set-to-erupt.html

Frank Kotler

R.S.Brown says:
“Sorry, smokers.
The pot crop that cycles with the corn crop in
that area is up in smoke too,”
Contrary to my expectations, my experience is that pot is remarkably frost-hardy. (apparently immune to the gubmint’s attempts to regulate it, too!)
Best,
Frank

Oliver Ramsay (February 12, 2011 at 7:56 am) yammered: “No, it won’t!”
“It will give you a sprig of parsley for your styrofoam pasta.”
“Agriculture produces food.”
I’ll be darned. Then I guess my tomatoes (two varieties), bell peppers, brocolli, carrots, et cetera, plus the greens I sprout inside must be figments of my imagination.
What do you think “agriculture” is? Just factory farms with megabuck combine harvesters?
Heck, I almost never buy produce. The last I can remember purchasing was parsnips (which I don’t grow but had a sudden urge for). Not sure when that was; may have been 2009 sometime. Growing for your own use is really pretty easy. I also save seed, and compost waste for fertilizer, which keeps things cheap.

I know that I dare challenge the “food gods” on this, but I’d recommend this fine work:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/index.html
With protein shakes, multivitamins…and a sparing amount of fruits and vegetables (can we say frozen foods anyone), I’m sure we’ll all survive quite well.
Thank you Dr. Haub for takin the trouble to do this!
Max

davidmhoffer

DJ says:
February 12, 2011 at 8:42 am
What makes this so obscene is that if this were 1973, Hansen, Schneider (RIP), Mann, Gore and the lot would be crying “This is proof of an impending ice age, and man has caused it!” Their solution would be to geo-engineer a fix, and that fix would be to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible. >>>
Nah. Too easy to do, no research to fund it, no gravy train so to speak. A few thousand physicists would do the rough calcs and prove the amount of CO2 required to be significant was pretty much impossible anyway.
Research into gigantic covered cities, underground labyrinths, population control, plants that grow in the dark, gigantic nuclear powered grids that could melt entire glaciers, some of them as soon as 2035, but most importantly…pollution credits. We’d pay 3rd world countries to adopt energy sources high in aerosols so that they become more wealthy saving the planet and the rest of us continue to have clean air. Just don’t tell the CBOE about how wind works until after they set up the trading system.

Louis

When the climate was warming, we were told to cut back on CO2 emissions to prevent global warming. But now that the climate is beginning to cool, we are told to cut back on CO2 to prevent extreme (cold) weather events. Which is it? Cutting back on CO2 cannot be the answer to every problem. Either it warms the planet, cools it, or neither. But it can’t do all three.
A good way to determine whether a climate scientist is a true scientist or an environmentalist hack in disguise is to get him to answer the following question: “What climate conditions would persuade you to call for more CO2 emissions?”
If he says none, then he is primarily an environmentalist who wants to curb or end industry to save the planet. Climate change is just a means to that end. But if he says CO2 helps warm the atmosphere and therefore may be of value in reducing the effects of long-term global cooling, then he is primarily a scientist.
I submit that the James Hansens and Michael Manns of the world would never call for an increase in greenhouse gas emissions even if they knew that we were headed toward an ice age. That is because their real goal is environmental. They want to curb modern industrial output, reduce the population, save the planet from humans, and make money for themselves in the process.

ES

Theo Goodwin @ February 12, 2011 at 8:35 am
says:
Excuse me, but how does it serve me if there are plenty of vegetables at higher prices? Are you immune to all increases in price? Are you not aware that the supply can be enormous while most people are suffering lower quality nutrition? For example, and there are hundreds, throughout this winter I could have bought all the tomatoes I wanted for a mere $4 per pound. That is more than a dollar per tomato. Do you really expect me to pay that? I have not.
I did not right that. It you had bothered to slick on the link you could see that thr reporter Sergio Avila that! I was quoting from the article.