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FRUIT FOR DOMESTIC USE ONLY
Mangoes are one of the most popular fruits in Cuba and are widely and easily grown (fig. 25). The fruit is borne on trees, and the main crop ripens in the late spring and summer. Mangoes are about the size of large peaches but are somewhat flattened and elongated. The fruit has a smooth leathery skin with a yellowish-green to red color,
FIGURE 25. Mangoes are a very important tropical fruit.
frequently with red or black spots when ripe. The closely related manga blanca and manga amarilla are somewhat more rounded and have a lighter color. Each fruit contains a large flattened seed, almost as long and wide as the fruit itself. The meat is salmon-colored, sweet and juicy, and adheres tightly to the seed. In some of the poorer varieties the meat is fibrous and the skin has a slight aroma of turpentine. Among the better varieties are Hayden, Bizcochuelo, Mulgaba, Bombay, Señora, and Filipinos.
The well-defined dry season during the winter is desirable for blooming and ripening and favors development of the fruit which ripens from June to September. Excessive moisture during blooming causes the spread of anthracnose, a fungus disease that destroys the flowers.
Yields per tree vary from a few hundred fruit for the larger varieties to several thousand for the small varieties. The fruit is picked when fully mature, and if it is to be shipped for export must be carefully packed. The customary crate contains six small baskets, each with six large, individually wrapped mangoes.
In the United States some mangoes are grown in southern Florida and a few in California. Imports of fresh mangoes are prohibited into the United States, 2 but a small quantity of canned mangoes is imported.
OTHER TROPICAL FRUITS
The mamey colorado (Mammea americana) 42 is a large oval fruit with pointed ends. It is 6 to 8 inches long, is covered with a rough rusty-brown skin, and has a bright-red sweet meat with one or two large black-brown seeds (fig. 26, A). The fruit is eaten fresh and is very popular.
The anón (Annona squamosa) is sometimes known as the sweetsop or sugar apple and grows on small trees. The fruit is round, somewhat heart-shaped, 3 to 5 inches in diameter, consists of numerous small sections like the surface of a pineapple, and has a yellowish-green skin, black in spots, and a creamy-white sweet pulp. Because of its delicacy and peculiar structure the fruit does not withstand shipment and is consumed locally.
The cherimoya (Annona cherimola) or custard apple is of the Annonaceae family and resembles the anón but has a somewhat smoother surface; and although the skin is marked into U-shaped sections, they do not carry through the entire fruit (fig. 26, B). The meat is white and pleasantly acid. It is usually reddish to red-brown when ripe, and has a sweet but tallowlike granular pulp adhering to the seeds.
The guanábana, or soursop (Annona muricata), also a member of the Annonaceae family, is large and heart-shaped, or like an inverted pear, with a dark-green ill-smelling skin bearing numerous small spines. The meat is white, juicy, and pleasantly acid, and its juice is used in making a favorite Cuban drink. It is also used for jellies and preserves.
The zapote, or sapodilla (Achras zapota), 42 is a fruit about the size of a small peach (fig. 26, C). It has a dull skin with a surface like that of a potato and a sugary sweet meat not unlike the persimmon in taste. It is eaten fresh and can be shipped only with the greatest care in packing.
The caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito) is about the size of a small apple, has a smooth skin, and a sweet somewhat gelatinous pulp containing several small seeds (fig. 26, D). There are two principal kinds; the white, which has a pale-green skin and white meat, and the purple, which has a dark-purple skin, the color going through the meat almost to the center.
The tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is a beanlike fruit with a brindlebrown shell and a dark fibrous juicy pulp in which is imbedded a
42 Fresh mangoes, guavas, mameys, and zapotes are prohibited entry into the United States because of possible fruit fly infestation.
large flat seed. The fruit has a pleasantly acid taste and is used almost exclusively for flavoring for a fruit drink.
Coconuts for local consumption are grown on a small scale in most parts of Cuba. Before 1900 as many as 25 to 30 million coconuts were gathered annually, but disease has attacked the trees in many regions and has greatly reduced the economic importance of this product during recent years. Production is sufficient only for local use as food and is not sufficient to permit quantity exports or use in the manufacture of copra and coconut oil. Many coconuts are used green as a drink and the riper ones for making ice cream.
IMPORTS OF FRESH FRUIT
Although native bananas and citrus fruits are available in Cuba throughout the year, most of the other fruits, such as pineapples, mangoes, avocados, and mamey, are produced chiefly during the summer months. Cuba does not produce apples, pears, peaches, plums, and grapes and therefore offers a limited market for these complementary Temperate Zone fruits, especially during the fall and winter. About 95 percent of all imported fruit is from the United States; figs and dates are the only kinds of which important quantities are supplied by other countries. Imports of fruit during recent years have amounted to one-half to three-fourths of a million dollars in value annually. Over half consist of fresh fruit and the remainder of canned and dried (table 32).
About half of Cuba's imports of fresh fruit are of apples. They are chiefly for eating fresh, and about 75 percent are of the Delicious variety from the Pacific coast and Yorks from Virginia. Grapes rank second only to apples. Imports are supplied almost entirely
by California, chiefly of the White Malaga and Emperor varieties. Pears are chiefly of the Bartlett, Anjou, and Comice varieties from the Pacific Coast States. For Comice from the United States, Cuba is the third most important foreign market.
The production of winter vegetables for the United States market is an industry of considerable importance in certain sections of Cuba and provides income for many small farmers, in addition to employment in packing and marketing. The total value of exports is usually well over a million dollars annually, and winter vegetables thus rank as Cuba's fourth most important group of export crops. Much of the capital invested in the production and marketing, as well as seed, fertilizers, implements, and packing materials, is supplied by American interests.
IMPORTANCE AND OPERATION OF THE INDUSTRY
Cuba's vegetable crops may be divided into two groups: (1) Those grown principally for export, including tomatoes, lima beans, eggplant, green peppers, okra, cucumbers, and some potatoes, and (2) those grown for local consumption, including dried beans, sweetpotatoes, yams, yuca, malanga, onions, and some cabbage and lettuce. In addition to the domestic production, Cuba imports considerable quantities of red and white beans, garlic, and onions and some fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, celery, cauliflower, green peas, and tomatoes out of season. Whereas exports of fresh vegetables average about $1,050,000 in value annually, imports of the fresh vegetables just mentioned amount to about $50,000 annually, almost entirely from the United States.43 Table 33 shows the average value of each of the Cuban vegetables imported into the United States during the 5 years 1936-40 as compared with the preceding 5-year period.
TABLE 33.-Vegetable imports into the United States from Cuba, by value, 1931–35 and 1936-40
The principal commercial winter-vegetable-growing regions are in the western half of the island, in the Provinces of La Habana, Pinar del Río, and Las Villas, and in the Isle of Pines. (See fig. 27.) Much of the land now planted to vegetables was formerly used for tobacco; the low returns for tobacco encouraged the shift to the more profitable production of vegetables. Peppers and eggplant are grown near Habana, in the eastern part of Pinar del Río Province,
43 In addition, Cuba imports about 1.9 million dollars' worth of dry beans and peas; about 0.8 million dollars' worth of potatoes (largely for seed); and about 0.7 million dollars' worth of onions and garlic.