Mexico is the seventh largest producer of cucumbers in the world and the top cucumber producer in Latin America. In 2020, Mexico produced a total of 1,159,934 tons of cucumbers. (p. 12)
Cucumber is also Mexico’s fifth most important vegetable in terms of volume. (p. 23) The demand for cucumbers is always high, which makes them a valuable commodity for farmers and an essential part of the local economy.
Because a majority of Mexican cucumber growers use protective structures for growing cucumbers, the country has the conditions to have continuous production throughout the year. (p. 6) This makes Mexico the top cucumber exporter in the world. In 2019, it exported 782,161 tons of cucumbers, representing 24.9% of world’s total exports for the year. (p. 19)
Read on to know more about the different aspects of Mexican cucumber production and its contribution to international exports.
Cucumber Production in Mexico: States and Seasons
As of 2020, 30 states contribute to Mexican cucumber production. The states that stand out in Mexican cucumber production are Sinaloa and Sonora, representing 29.7% and 22.7%, respectively, of total national cucumber production.
These two are the only Mexican states that produce over 200,000 tons in 2020. Five of the top 10 cucumber-producing Mexican municipalities also come from Sonora, while three come from Sinaloa. (p. 29) Other Mexican states produce less than 100,000 tons of cucumbers per year.
Meanwhile, Querétaro also stands out despite only ranking 21st in production; it has the highest average yield at 262.7 tons per hectare, 601.2% higher than the national average yield of 43.7 tons per hectare. (p. 28)
January to May are the months with the highest cucumber production in Mexico.February has the highest production peak in this period and accounts for about 15% of total annual production.
June to December is the low season for cucumber production in Mexico. (p. 30)
Mexican Cucumber Production Volumes and Processes
Mexican cucumber production has been steadily increasing. Between 2011 and 2020, the average annual increase in Mexican cucumber production was 11.2%. And by 2020, the rise in cucumber production was already about 272% compared with its 2011 cucumber production level. (p. 24)
Its average harvest of cucumber even spiked by 43.7% in 2020 year-on-year, reaching 73.7 tons per hectare. (p. 26) This annual increase has been happening despite the consistent drop in cucumber harvest area in Mexico since 2017.
Mexico does not have a sprawling harvest area. In fact, it only ranks 17th in terms of cucumber harvest area in the world. In comparison, China, which has the largest cucumber harvest area, has 1.2 million hectares for cucumber cultivation. (p. 13)
From Mexico’s record cucumber harvest area of 20,180 hectares in 2017, it had even dropped to 15,742 hectares in 2020. (p. 25) Despite the decreasing harvest area, cucumber production in Mexico continued to increase. This is because a large part of Mexican cucumber production is carried out under a protective structure. In fact, around 60% use a greenhouse, macro tunnel, or shade net.
With the use of protective structures, the cucumber crop can be harvested even in the rainy season. Open sky cucumber cultivation is also being observed in 40% of cucumber production in Mexico. (p. 6)
Mexican Cucumber Growers’ Contribution to External Demand
Mexican cucumber growers provide a valuable service to the global cucumber market, as they help to meet the demand for cucumbers in international markets. In fact, Mexico is the largest exporter of cucumbers in the world.
However, most of its cucumber exports go to the US. From January to April 2021, Mexico exported 332,944 tons of a combination of fresh and refrigerated cucumbers.
Of this number, 330,777 tons were exported to the US, representing 99.3% of the total Mexican exports in the period. This export volume translates to a value of USD 228.7 million.
Meanwhile, for the entire 2020, exports from Mexico to the US had a value of USD 625.9 million.
Aside from the US, Mexico also exports minimal quantities of cucumbers to Canada and the United Arab Emirates. (p. 32) Mexico exported 2,167 tons of cucumbers to Canada and 390 kilograms to the United Arab Emirates. The total value of these exports was USD 1.5 million.
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