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October harvest and new dangers in Baja

It is October, which means that the grapes are ready to be harvested. They have reached their deep purple color, peak sugar content and maximum antioxidant level. This is the Fall season in Baja California for Seagate.

Grapes ready for harvest

Ripened grapes

The olives will still require several more months before they ripen, changing from green to dark purple, when they are filled with oil. Okay, so not much has happened with the olives since last week’s blog photos.

Green olives still growing

Anticipating the release of the new Seagate artichoke product this month and its initial popularity, Seagate did a second planting. The new artichoke plants are just beginning to grow their distinctive leaves.

Artichokes growing on a hillside

It can be somewhat risky to begin a new crop during September or October in this part of Baja California because of the occurrence of the “Santa Ana” winds. These are very hot, very strong desert winds that can suddenly occur, blowing from the east. The wind velocity in the Baja foothills where these crops are farmed will reach 60 to 80 mph. The air becomes so dry that the humidity falls below 15%. Notice that the artichoke crop is planted along the sides of the hills, which offers some protection from the direct blast of hot winds.

Artichoke plants and irrigation lines

The black plastic tubes running between the plants are drip irrigation lines. Water is scarce in this desert region. The crops must be very hardy to survive; the people even hardier.

Local News
The violence and kidnappings associated with the ongoing drug war in Mexico have finally arrived in Ensenada. There have been many incidents during the last 6 years of violence in this northern Baja California region. However, most of the violence was directly associated with the cartels fighting among themselves and against the local municipal police forces.  However, a new much more sinister lawlessness and lack of public safety has taken root during the last 3 months. Several dozen young women have been kidnapped during the month of September in Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate, the four principal cities of northern Baja California. Some have been found executed, while most remain missing. Many of the disappearances are occurring near college and high school campuses. The numbers have grown to the point where comparisons are being made with the notorious city of Juarez (murder capital of the world), located along the border across from El Paso, Texas, where an average of 200 women are killed and 100 kidnapped each year.

Many of these abductions feed an international pipeline of human trafficking which has become very active in this region. The balance of the women are often drugged and sold into prostitution within Mexico’s borders. Those that do not cooperate or try to escape are killed. Over 80% of the guns being used by these criminals in Mexico originate in the U.S.   Thousands of these automatic weapons were allowed to cross into Mexico by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Dept. – ATF- Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms during their misguided “gun-walking” scandal called “fast and furious”, which provided the Mexican cartels with over 2,000 AK-47-type automatic (assault) rifles.  It is likely that the situation in Mexico will further deteriorate. It is advised that Americans and other foreign tourists completely avoid entering Northern Mexico by car.

The fish picture of this week is of a feeding frenzy of sharks, sting rays and assorted other fish tearing into the body of a dead fish carcass that was dropped overboard from a fishing vessel. If you were wondering why you should not swim or dive with an open bleeding cut, blood in the water will trigger very aggressive fish behaviors.

Feeding frenzy

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