(13) Pod Cactus (Nopalitos) as a Fresh Vegetable in Sonora, Mexico

in HortScience

The pod cactus (Opuntia sp.), a tender stem, has been consumed by Mexican people for centuries either as a fresh or boiled vegetable. Traditionally, Southern Mexico people consume this tender pod cactus in several traditional Mexican dishes. During recent years, an increase in nopalitos consumption by Sonoran people has been observed. People interested in a disciplined diet or people troubled with high cholesterol desire this peculiar vegetable. In Hermosillo, Mexico, people buy nopalitos in small plastic bags packages a pound of small cutting of tender pods from local supermarkets and mobile sellers. Usually, a nopalitos bag pound price is a range of $1.00 to $1.2 U.S. dollars in Hermosillo. Nopalitos production in Sonora, Mexico, is a seasonal. Nopalitos harvesting starts in early April and runs through late October. Because low temperatures start in late October, and continue during the winter season, there is no nopalitos production in Sonora. Hense, Sonoran producers are considerig building high tunnels, to provide more temperature control and to produce nopalitos during the winter. Most growers are low-income people that produce nopalitos in home gardens. This activity allows low-income growers to have nopalitos during most of the year, except during the winter. The current growing area production of 240 acres (170 ha) of tender pod cactus was recorded during 2005 in Sonora, of which a half is cultivated in home gardens. A potential yield production of nopalitos in Sonora is about of 40 tons per acre of tender pod cactus. In comparison to other crops, nopalitos production is a good alternative for small growers.

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