Tamale trouble in Tucson: Corn shortage puts a crimp in holiday tradition | Subscriber

Rodriguez traces the problem back as far as March and says it has only gotten worse as the demand for corn has increased. 

“There is corn every day, but we’re only getting a certain amount,” he said, and that amount is significantly less than recent years and requires driving deeper into Mexico, sometimes well into Sinaloa, he added.

He’s also paying more for the corn, about $4.50 to $5 for a dozen ears. He sells the corn for $7 a dozen, splitting his weekly hauls between his restaurant customers and El Rey del Elote, where they sell ground corn for $4.50 a pound to the public.

Ricardo Cazares, who sells the premade regular corn masa and green corn by the dozen ears from his south side Alejandro’s Tortilla Factory, said he worries that he won’t have enough corn on hand to supply the holiday demand. His 35-year-old factory at 5330 S. 12th Ave. also sells packaged masa in Fry’s, Walmart and Safeway stores this time of year, alongside the company’s popular line of flour and corn tortillas.

“The green corn, there are sometimes weeks when we don’t have any corn at all,” Cazares said. “They are not having enough corn to be able to supply the demand.”

Early this year, the United States Department of Agriculture warned of the coming shortages, projecting in a January 2020 report that Mexico’s corn production could drop slightly because of the water supply from Mother Nature and the country’s dwindling irrigation system.

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