This paper will briefly touch on the former group, presenting statistics of imports into the United States from Latin America and the Caribbean as a measure of the volume of production. USDA-ERS data from FY-1985 show ten countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Mexico, exporting some 60 fresh, frozen or dried vegetables which, for discussion purposes, are classed as "traditional" North American vegetables. Table 1 includes all vegetables under plant quarantine regulations imported from Latin America during FY-1985, where the imported amount accounts for at least 2% of total imports of that item (see also Fig. 5).
Of far greater interest to a symposium on new crops, however, are the 25 "non-traditional" crops which also appear in the USDA-ERS data. These crops are exported from: Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Jamaica and Mexico (Table 2). This group can be further divided into crops which are native to or generally associated with the region and those which are not. Crops which are not included in the USDA-ERS data but which appear in commerce in southern Florida, as imports and/or local products, will also be discussed. Tropical root crops and many Asian vegetables reviewed by O'Hair and Yamaguchi, respectively, in this proceedings will not be covered in this paper.
There is limited production in South Florida of other lesser known Asian and other vegetables which may become important in the region as well. These include vegetables and a few fruits which are eaten as vegetables. This group comprises several botanical families: Anacardiaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Leguminosae, Solanaceae, Musaceae and Caricaceae.
Green mango fruit, Mangifera indica L. [Anacardiaceae], are popular among Southeast Asians and Latin Americans. They are eaten with salt or pickled.
Several cucurbits are being grown in South Florida: Chinese okra [Luffa acutangula (L) Roxb.], lauki or bottle gourd [Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.], luffa [Luffa cylindrica (L) M. J. Roem], tindora or ivy gourd (Coccinia cordifolia Cobn.), and very small amounts of parvar or pointed gourd (Trichosanthes dioica Roxb.). Lauki used throughout the tropics and subtropics, and also tindora and parvar were recently introduced to southern Florida by East Indians. Chinese okra and luffa are popular with both South and Southeast Asians. There are reports that tindora has been imported from the Dominican Republic, but that the quality was inferior to tindora grown in the U.S. The edible portion of all these crops is the immature fruit. To date, research efforts in Florida with these minor cucurbits has been limited to disease and insect surveys.
Legumes grown in southern Florida include: guar or cluster bean as a green shell bean [Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.], hyacinth or lablab bean (Lablab niger Medik.), yard-long or asparagus beans [Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis (L.) Verdc.], and winged bean [Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) DC]. These legumes are eaten either as immature pods or as green shell beans. In some cases, such as the winged bean, overmature pods become bitter and unmarketable. Winged beans were produced commercially for one year in Puerto Rico, but were harvested when the pods were too mature. There have been no reports of additional plantings. A collection of winged bean cultivars was maintained at the University of Florida Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead until the mid-1980s. While there appears to be increasing interest in winged beans in the U.S., seed has been in short supply.
Thai eggplants (Solanum macrocarpon L.), Japanese eggplants (S. melongena L.) and Scotch bonnet peppers (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) represent the solanums. Thai eggplant, also called local garden egg, is originally from West Africa. Fruits of Thai eggplant are 5-6 cm long and 7-8 cm in diameter; those of Japanese eggplant are 5-15 cm long and 3-6 cm in diameter. Banana inflorescences and green papaya fruit are used as vegetables by Southeast Asians.
Several factors currently limit the production of these crops now being grown in southern Florida. These include: the scarcity of planing material for some specialty vegetable crops; the finite size of the current market, the need for all growers to harvest and ship only those items which are of the optimum size, quality and maturity; the lack of pesticides registered for use on these crops; and the high cost of both land and labor.
Cactus fruits are imported solely from Mexico. In the southwestern United States and perhaps Mexico, these fruits are processed into jellies. Cactus pads (also Opuntia spp.not reported) are also imported from Mexico, either fresh or canned (Table 3).
Callaloo, a leafy green vegetable, is the main ingredient in the most famous soup of the Caribbean. It refers to the leaves of two very distinct genera of plants which are used interchangeably, depending on location and availability One is dasheen or taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott.] and the other is Amaranthus spp., also known as Chinese spinach. Dasheen leaves [Jamaica69.8%; Dominican Republic29.7%] are found fresh in Oriental and Latin American markets. Amaranth is cultivated on a very limited basis in southern Florida during the winter and in a number of locations on the Eastern Seaboard, such as near New York City and other metropolitan areas with large Oriental populations, during the spring and summer. Canned callaloo (amaranth) is imported from Jamaica and possibly other locations.
Chayotes [Sechium edule (Jacq.) Swartz] [Costa Rica77.1%; Mexico20.4%] are sold almost year-round in many Florida supermarkets (Table 3). This pear-shaped fruit is grown on a very limited basis in southern Florida and to some extent in Puerto Rico. Chayotes have specific cultural requirements, including a 365-day growing season with no frosts and no high temperatures, which serve to limit its production in the mainland U.S. Florida chayotes have been found to be susceptible to target spot and other diseases and insects affecting cucurbits. There is an extensive germplasm collection at Centro Agronomica Tropical de Investigacion y Enseñanza (CATIE), Turrialba, Costa Rica. Much of the research on this crop has been and continues to be done in Costa Rica.
Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa Brot. ex Hornem) small tomato-like fruits, [Mexico100%] are sold fresh, canned whole or made into salsa verde [green sauce] (Table 3). Jicama (or yam bean) [Pachyrrhizus erosus (L.) Urban.] and purslane (or portulaca) (Portulaca oleracea L.) are two other products which are imported as fresh vegetables almost exclusively from Mexico [99.9% and 100% respectively]. Very small plantings of jicama have been tried in southern Florida, though most of the soils are not suitable for this root crop. Jicama importers are enthusiastic about the acceptance of this vegetable and report that supermarkets are projecting sales increases. Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album L.) are also imported in small quantities solely from Mexico. Tender leaves and young shoots are the edible portions of both purslane and lambsquarters.
Palm fruit [Brazil100%] and hearts of palm [not reported] are considered here as vegetables because of the way they are eaten. Canned hearts of palm are imported from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela (Table 3). Both palm fruit and palm hearts can be harvested from the multi-trunked pejibaye or peach palm [Guilielma gasipaes (H.B.K.) Bailey] which is grown in Costa Rica. Other palm species yield hearts which are edible and would lend themselves to cultivation.
Pigeon peas or gandules (Cajanus cajan L.) are sold fresh [Dominican Republic87.1%; Peru9.9%], frozen [Dominican Republic92.5%], dried [not reported] and canned (Table 3). They are grown in Puerto Rico and to a very limited extent as green shell beans in Florida.
Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata (Duch. ex Lam.) Duch. ex Poir.) [Dominican Republic-84.5%, Jamaica9.9%; Mexico3.8%], also known as calabaza, is also grown in south Florida. Imports have come into Florida from the Bahamas at various times. Imports from Costa Rica have been on the increase since early 1988 and were sufficiently high and inexpensive to discourage Florida growers.
Finally, the unopened flower buds of sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) [Dominican Republic85.3%; Jamaica14.7%], also known as roselle or flor de Jamaica, is used in making drinks, jams, jellies and sauces. Young shoots and leaves can also be eaten either raw or as a potherb.
Researchers need to improve their understanding of these crops, since in most instances growers are more knowledgeable. As cultivated areas increase, insect and disease problems are likely to increase as well. Vegetables with pesticide residues which exceed the limits set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been rejected at ports of entry into the United States. As inspections become more frequent rejections are likely to increase. This in turn will increase the demand for minor use registrations of pesticides, both for the United States and for Latin America and the Caribbean.
|Commodity||Country||Imports (kg)||% of total|
|Melons, muskmelon||Dominican Republic||18,632,431||16.4|
|Melons, other||Dominican Republic||1,869,390||3.6|
|Peas, chickpeas-frozen||Dominican Republic||459||100.0|
|Commodity||Country||Imports (kg)||% of total|
|Bamboo shoots||Dominican Republic||5,514||62.2|
|Chinese cucumber||Dominican Republic||7,079||100.0|
|Dasheen, taro leaves||Jamaica||58,063||69.8|
|Jicama, yam bean||Mexico||7,722,733||99.9|
|Peas, pigeon||Dominican Republic||741,103||87.1|
|Peas, pigeon-frozen||Dominican Republic||292,389||92.5|
|Pumpkin, calabaza||Dominican Republic||4,234,110||84.5|
|Sorrel, roselle||Dominican Republic||63,567||85.3|
|Section||Product||Brand name||Country of origin|
|Tamarillo, purple & orange||Frieda's|
|Canned||Gandules, pigeon pea||Casera||Dominican Republic|
|El Jibarito||Dominican Republic|
|Hearts of Palm||El Bochero||Peru|
|La Cima||Costa Rica|
|Whole Peach Palm Fruit||Covapa||Colombia|
|Tender Cactus||San Marcos||Mexico|
|Chilpotle peppers in adobo sauce||San Marcos||Mexico|
|Frozen||Gandules, pigeon pea||Fela||Dominican Republic|
|Fig. 1. 1986 Competitive agricultural imports, product share of total value. Source: General Accounting Office. 1988. Agricultural trade. Causes and impacts of increased fruit and vegetable imports. riefing Report to the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, House of Representatives. GAO/RCED-88-149BR, U.S. Gen. Account. Office, Washington, DC.|
|Fig. 2. U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables by country/region of origin, 1986. Source: General Accounting Office. 1988. Agricultural trade. Causes and impacts of increased fruit and vegetable imports. Briefing Report to the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, House of Representatives. GAO/RCED-88-149BR, U.S. Gen. Account Office, Washington, DC.|
Fig. 3. U.S. vegetable imports, 1975-86. Source: General Accounting Office. 1988. Agricultural trade. Causes and impacts of increased fruit and vegetable imports. Briefing Report to the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, House of Representatives. GAO/RCED-88-149BR, U.S. Gen. Account. Office, Washington, DC.
|Fig. 4. U.S. agricultural imports from Mexico, 1980-86. Source: General Accounting Office. 1988. Agricultural trade. Causes and impacts of increased fruit and vegetable imports. Briefing Report to the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, House of Representatives. GAO/RCED-88-149BR, U.S. Gen. Account. Office, Washington, DC.|
|Fig. 5. Number of traditional vegetables imported into the U.S. by country, 1985. Source: General Accounting Office. 1988. Agricultural trade. Causes and impacts of increased fruit and vegetable imports. Briefing Report to the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, House of Representatives. GAO/RCED-88-149BR, U.S. Gen. Account. Office, Washington, DC.|