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- Author or Editor: Francisco Rivas x
In Sonora, Mexico, a new crop is emerging as a potential and alternative crop industry: the bacanora plant (Agave angustifolia Haw). The bacanora plant belongs to the Amaryllidaceous family and is a type of agave with a low water requirements, growing as a wild plant in Sonora, Mexico. It is different from the one used to produce the most famous Mexican liquor in the world—tequila. Some time ago, the bacanora plant had been used to distill and produce a kind of liquor known by Sonoran people as bacanora. However, this activity was prohibited by the Sonoran government during the past century. Now, in order to encourage job growth, the Sonoran government has given permission to producers for new bacanora plantations. To protect the originality of both bacanora plant production and the bacanora distillation industry, the Federal Mexican government issued a law that prohibits all activity for growing bacanora plant and bacanora distillation outside of Sonora, Mexico. The law was approved in 2005 and now, all natural areas where wild plants of bacanora grow are known as “origin denomination,” which means that some Sonoran areas are unique locations where the bacanora industry can be legally established for plant production, distillation, refining, and labeling. Currently, there are about 20,000 ha of bacanora plants located in Sonora. Some producers estimate that, in the near future, there will be more than 60,000 ha of bacanora plants. Although bacanora plants are used mainly for producing liquor, they could be considered ornamental plants for establishing home desert gardens together with desert plants, such as cacti.
The piquin chili (Capsicum annuum L.), a type of high-pungency small-ball chili fruit, is traditional among Sonoran people and is consumed as paprika and dry fruit in some regional dishes. Also, the high prices obtained in domestic and oversea markets every year, mainly through piquin dry fruit sales, have encouraged this small informal and seasonal industry. In some Sonoran Mountain ranges, where piquin chili plants grow wild, a latent, informal industry has been maintained by people who harvest piquin chilies as fresh and dry fruits for sale. Enough precipitation, good environment conservation, and other conditions maintain the natural preservation of this chili plant, so that the piquin chili industry is maintained without cultivation, and has become a natural and ecological chili industry. During harvest time (September through November), low-income people harvest by hand dry piquin chili fruits for sale in several cities in Sonora. After harvesting, fresh red piquin chili fruits must be dried over several days. The fruit is spread out over a fabric during sunny days and removed at nights, and the small piquin red fruits dry in just a few days. Usually dry piquin chili presentations are sold in liter (0.25-lb) or kilogram (2-lb) lots. Throughout the 2005 dry piquin chili harvesting season, sales reached prices close to $18 and $82 (U.S. dollars) per liter or kilogram, respectively. Although the dry piquin chili is exported to the United States, fresh fruit sales are still limited to the domestic Sonoran market. The piquin chili harvesting season offers temporary employment and represents, in part, an important source of family income.
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.
The Growers Club provides a good alternative for technology transfer generation in experiment stations, universities, and other research institutions in Mexico. At this time, there are 10 Growers Clubs in northwest Mexico, mainly in Sonora and Sinaloa states. During 1996, in the agricultural area in Caborca, Sonora, the Grower Club “REME”-SOCOADA was formed with 10 members—all of them are willing to adopt new technologies. The main goal of this club is to improve the yield using the validation of new agricultural practices and evaluation of genetic material from different crops (annual crops, vegetables, fruit trees, and forage). We have six demonstration lots in different locations and we are planning to increase these to 11 and we will publish the results that we are going to get from these lots.
The agricultural activity in Caborca, Sonora, depends on fruit trees and vegetable production, and the main crops are grapes, olive, and asparagus. However, is necessary to evaluate other vegetables. An alternative is the green snap beans production. This vegetable can be harvested during the last week of November, when, good prices aare available in the market. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate seven green snap beans varieties with round pod. The experiment was on 24 Aug. The density used was 20 seeds per meter (about 60 kg·ha-1). The experiment was carried out during 2001 with commercial growers. The date of sow was distance between beds was 2.0 m and we used two rows with 36 cm of separation. In our experiment, we used a drip irrigation system. The first harvest was 67 days after the date sowing and it was for 28 days with seven cuttings. The varieties with more yield were Festina, Mercury, and Castaño with 771, 632 and 558 boxes/ha, (30 pounds/box), respectively. The control variety (Savannah) yielded only 345 boxes/ha. The pod quality distribution was 26%, 32%, 50%, and 15% for classification 1, 2, 3, and no commercial value respectively. The Savannah variety was the best pod color (dark green) and more yield during the last cutting. None of the varieties evaluated had problems of pest and diseases.
Vegetable production in the Caborca area is about 6500 ha, and the main crops are asparagus, muskmelon, watermelon, and pea. However during 1999, some growers tested green snap beans as a new crop for this area. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate five green snap beans with round podded (`Benchmark', `Landmark', `Jade', `Probe', and `Prosperity') and two densities (14 and 28 seeds/m) on subsurface drip irrigation system. The sowing was on beds of 2.0 m with two rows separated 60 cm. The date sowing was on 7 Sept. 1999. The first cutting were between 65 and 70 days after sowing in all varieties; in this case `Benchmark' was the earliest. The cumulative yield were 330, 140, 87, 63, and 20 boxes/ha (30 lb/box), respectively, in four harvests. On the other hand, the high population yielded 14.4% more than the low population. All varieties were damaged by frost that ocurred on 22 and 23 Nov. `Prosperity' was more susceptible to mosaic virus and `Benchmark' more tolerant. The pod quality distributions were 19.9%, 21.5%, 26.1%, and 21.0% for classes 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. We have not seen any important insect pests during this trial.