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Northern Mexico is bitten by frost

February 28, 2011

The globe’s changing weather has brought extreme frosts to the north Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa this February, causing large crop losses. In Sonora, the frost has damaged more than 6,000 hectares of maize, potato, squash, and pepper crop, and an incredible 90,000 hectares of wheat crop. Sonora’s people depend heavily on agriculture, as it composes 85% of the state’s economic activity.

As significant at Sonora’s losses may be, Sinaloa was hit even harder by the uncharacteristic frost. Sinaloa lost around 505,000 hectares of its principle crop, maize. This overwhelming loss represents 77% of the state’s total maize crop. Also, Sinaloa provides 80% of the Mexican maize supply during the autumn-winter growing season, so this loss is devastating to the people of Sinaloa as well as consumers throughout the country.

As addressing climate change is a focus here at CIMMYT, CIMMYT’s conservation agriculture program has sent instructional materials to the regions’ farmers, advising them what the options are to recover from the frost. Conservation agriculture gives the option to react quickly, as time is precious in replanting some alternative crops to generate some income this cycle. The conservation agriculture Mexico-team has had a strong presence in Sinaloa and Sonora and will continue to support the states’ agriculture sectors during a period when the government has declared the states agricultural disaster areas.

Currently, the weather in Sonora and Sinaloa is improving, though the crop devastation will affect the states’ and nation’s food supply and economy for months to come.