How Much Does A Century Plant Cost

The Agave americana and Agave truncata are the most popular palm trees in our nursery.

Can agave get too much sun?

Agave can burn, however it depends on the kind as well as how much and how long it is exposed to sunlight. Please let us know if this is a concern for you so we can make specific advice for you.

What is the lifespan of a century plant?

The towering Agave americanacentury plant transforms any landscape into a showpiece.

The central stem of this plant matures to a height of 20 feet, with blue-green or gray-green rosette leaves that can reach up to 6 feet long and 10 inches wide. The leaves feature needle-like spines on the tip and sharp, serrated edges.

Although it was formerly thought that century plants might live for 100 years, hence the term “century,” they actually only have a 30-year lifespan on average.

The century plant is monocarpic, meaning it only produces one flower in its lifetime, which is followed by its quick demise.

When the plant reaches maturity, it harnesses the energy it has accumulated over the years to create beautiful yellow flowers that are perched on the main stem.

You can propagate offsets—also known as pups for a more common name—to continue the agave plant’s history.

Although its popular name is century plant, the native to Mexico agave americana is also known as the maguey plant, Mexican soap plant, or American aloe.

The century plant is well-liked by garden enthusiasts since it is drought-resistant, low-maintenance, and highly attractive. Many gardeners still have trouble growing this succulent, though.

Continue reading to discover how to properly develop and care for your Agave americana century plant.

Does a century plant produce flowers every century?

In its dying years, a beautiful century plant is putting on a show; it is blooming for the first and last time in 27 years. Just before it dies, the succulent sends forth a tall stalk of flowers.

Agave ocahui, which blooms just once every 100 years, is known as the century plant in the Arid Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It blooms just once after 25 to 30 years of growth, according to a more precise estimate. The century plant was donated to the Garden in 1993 by The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

Agave ocahui, a plant native to the Sonoran Desert, can reach heights of 8 to 15 feet, although we anticipate that ours will only reach the lower end of this range. Bats and birds that consume the plant’s nectar in the wild fertilize it.

In order to direct water to the plant’s base, the leaves near the bottom of the stalk form a rosette, and their waxy coating enhances water storage. The leaves droop as a result of the effort needed to push up the flower spike.

At the base of the plant, the dead plant leaves offsets or “pups” that start a new life cycle. Due to the plant cover, the pups may not be visible right now. The century plant can be multiplied by removing the well-rooted pups from the base and transplanting them, by plantlets that form on the flower spike, or by germination of the generated seeds.

How long does a flower on a century plant last?

The lifespan of an agave blooming branch varies according on the cultivar. Some branches grow more quickly than others, and vice versa.

The agave’s blooming period typically lasts between three and four months. The blossoming bloom then begins to face downward and to fall off after this time.

The bloom stalk can grow to enormous heights during this little time even though it lives too briefly compared to the agave plant’s overall lifespan.

Once the branch has grown to its full height, it will begin to produce other branches, each of which will house a flower that bears both seeds and nectar.

Your century plant’s blossoms bloom and can live for approximately a month before starting to wilt and perish.

Is agave farming profitable?

The good news regarding the “Agua crisis The top is now within grasp. The bad news is that in about 12 years, we’ll probably find ourselves in a situation akin to this—or worse. This is due to the fact that since tequila’s widespread use, there has been a boom and bust cycle in the supply and price of agave.

When prices are high, agave growers often plant additional agave because they anticipate more revenues when the plant reaches maturity in seven to eight years. However, when that time comes, prices plummet as a result of the abundance of agave. As a result, the farmers become discouraged, sell their product for little to nothing, and opt to plant something else, like maize, in their fields. A shortage of agave occurs and prices soar seven to eight years later, continuing the cycle.

“According to Guillermo Erickson Sauza, owner of Tequila Fortaleza, “the history of boom and bust agave pricing dates all the way back to the time of my great-great grandpa, 140 years ago.”

“Approximately twenty years ago, the price of agave peaked at about $1,600 USD per ton, and four years ago, it was less than $25 USD per ton, according to him.

The impacts of this cycle have been prolonged this time due to greater demand brought on by the increased popularity of tequila around the world and some speculation on the side of agave brokers and growers who want to maximize their profits while the price is high. (This is not exceptional, of course; many companies could be described in the same way.)

These variables, however, have stirred up the usual struggle between supply and demand this time, leading to some of the highest agave prices recorded since 2002 to 2003. Prices for agave have already risen to 22 pesos per kilo from just 3 pesos/kg five years ago.

Consumers have been puzzled as a result of the sensational headlines about a “agave shortage” and even some concerns that tequila may run out. Tequila enthusiasts were left debating whether they should temporarily switch to another liquor or take the chance of hurting the industry even more by driving up demand when there is a dearth of supply. However, these headlines have been false. Even though there has been a enough supply at high prices, many tequileros are refusing to buy it. Some even say they have stopped production until prices come down.

“According to master distiller Felipe Camarena, who also comes from a long family of agave producers and produces the G4, Terralta, and Pasote tequila labels, there is NO shortage; rather, there is speculation. “I can have anything I want as long as I am willing to pay for it. Every day, visitors to our distillery approach us with offers to sell agave.

He and other brand owners we spoke with believe that these suppliers overstated the price of agave and that some have opted to hold off on selling until the commodity reaches a specific high (like $25 MXN pesos/kilo), even if it means leaving some of their plants to decay in the field.

Agave farmers, like Enrique Fonseca, contend that the price has always been determined by the supply and demand for the plant at the time.

It’s the free market, according to Fonseca.

Tequila producers ought to quit purchasing at such exorbitant costs. It would be accurate to say that there is no shortage, simply speculative demand, if they can then get the prices to drop. I haven’t seen that lately, though. And I don’t think I will, at least not this year.

Although tequila producers believe that we have already reached the peak and that agave prices cannot rise further because doing so would make tequila production prohibitively expensive, Fonseca is of the opposite opinion. He predicts that prices could reach $30–$33 pesos per kilo before declining, based on the agave crisis in 2001–2002.

Both agave growers and tequila makers are frustrated by the boom and bust cycle, and with each high and low, tension is evident on one side or the other. As they fight to survive while waiting for agave prices to decrease, brand owners are currently under the biggest pressure. It will be the growers in a few years.

Naturally, some of the bigger players in the market either manage their own crops or have long-term agreements with their agave producers that determine the price they pay, partially shielding them from the cycle. For the majority of smaller producers, who are unable to commit to purchase entire fields of agave at once, this is not the case. They must own and harvest their own fields if they want to control costs.

Dr. Adolfo Murillo has been cultivating agave on his family’s ranch for 25 years, and he has firsthand knowledge of this cycle as both a farmer and a brand owner. The break-even mark, according to him, is somewhere between $2 and $3 pesos per kilo of agave. His tequila brand, Alquimia, uses exclusively his own organic agave, which has a higher production cost but is still less expensive than the going rate on the open market.

“I’ve observed families spending all of their meager resources on plants, sacrificing their land in exchange for a promise of a good price, putting in years of arduous labor, and frequently taking on debt in order to pay for fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, and fungicides in order to keep their crop alive, claims Murillo. “When it comes time to sell, they discover that the price is so low they will not make back their investment.

In the Mexican town of Tequila, Jalisco, agave is growing on the land of Tequila Fortaleza.

While some businesses might be entirely self-sufficient, Erickson Sauza believes that the majority are not.

In order to grow the agave required for our tequila industry, a lot of land or collaboration agreements are required. Furthermore, there is no easy fix for the issue.

“Three and four-year-old immature agave are currently being harvested. He continued, “This is because the growers are betting that the price will decline before their harvest matures.”

Due to the magnitude of their contracts, some larger manufacturers have been able to establish their own rules. Some of these contracts are intended to stabilize the cycle, even though they are frequently disadvantageous at the boom and bust cycle’s high and low points.

For instance, Patrn establishes a minimum price to assure growers’ profitability even during periods of low prices, and then ensures the current market rate during periods of high prices. A Patrn spokeswoman acknowledged that this is all part of an endeavor to keep the growers in a more stable line of work rather than hedging on agave prices.

Of course, there is another, more recent actor in the market who is having an impact on this cycle of tequila producers using diffusers. A massive equipment typically used to make agave nectar is used in diffuser production. The most effective technique to accelerate the crushing, extraction, and conversion of starches into sugars is through a continuous process. Diffusers use only 3.3 kilos of agave to make the same amount of tequila as traditional methods, which need about 7 kilos. Additionally, they don’t need the mature plants that conventional growers do. They can get a higher yield of fermentable sugars using four-year-old agaves in a diffuser than a typical producer can with six to eight-year-old agaves.

Furthermore, while mature plants have been extremely hard to find for the past year or so, younger agaves have been a little bit easier to find, offering diffuser users a little advantage.

“According to Jake Lustig, owner of Haas Brothers Spirits and producer of the ArteNOM brand of tequila, “[Diffuser producers use] young agave plants, which don’t require traditional planting, field care, and harvesting processes, nor the communities supported by those professions.”

According to Lustig, during the past 20 years, this technique has been the primary factor in the decline in agave farmers from over 25,000 in the 1990s to fewer than 2,500 in the 2010s, despite the fact that the category’s output has tripled.

“It is nearly impossible to overstate the detrimental effects of chemical diffuser technology on the distillate itself, farmworker culture and history, and the viability of rural economies.

We discovered that they weren’t anywhere while researching historical data for this story and looking online. As a result, we got in touch with our business associates, including tequila producers, distillers, and agave farmers who have been purchasing and selling agave for all of those years.

We collect information from 7 brands, 4 distilleries, and 3 agave growers in total, all of whom preserved records over time. They consent to provide us access to this information in exchange for us keeping their identify a secret. Since the data is largely consistent across all of them, we averaged them all together to produce the graphic you can see right now.

When this chart was created, we emailed it to everyone who provided us with data to confirm and fact-check it, and everyone concurred that it was true.

Agave Ahead!

According to official data from the Camara Nacional de la Industria Tequilera (CNIT) and Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT), the agave supply will rise sharply over the next five to six years. Agave should be in excess by 2023, when its price per kilogram may reach as high as $1 MXN peso. According to current forecasts, there will be five times as much agave available as the market requires by 2023.

These calculations took into account the agave required to keep the agave nectar business alive.

The Growers’ Side

It’s understandable why smaller producers in particular would want to maximize their profits while they still had the opportunity. Single-estate growers are not allowed to deduct expenses during the seven to eight years it takes for their crop to mature, and are instead required to pay a significant tax bill on gross revenues when their crop is sold, as if it were a 100 percent profit.

However, because they are generating cash from crops in various fields each year and are able to deduct expenses annually, ongoing corporate entities and multiple-parcel proprietors are not faced with this issue.

In order to benefit from another Mexican tax rule that states that if you are merely a farmer, you are immune from taxes on the first million pesos, growers now face a fresh issue during the boom cycle: dividing up their profits into several corporate organizations. Due to this, farmers started organizations known as “Sociedades de produccin rural,” or “Sociedades,” which comprise several family members and enable them to earn millions of pesos tax-free.

If there are two members, for example, both are exempt from taxes for around one million pesos because the Sociedad has the same benefit as a single grower. However, the members can only do it if agriculture accounts for 90% of their income.

A mature weber blue agave plant was being transported in a truck to a distillery in Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico.

Some agave producers are currently earning so much money that they are outgrowing family members who can stake a claim to ownership of their crops. According to Mexican tax legislation, a farmer is required to pay a 20 percent tax on all income received after the first $1 million pesos. They must pay themselves back here since they are unable to deduct costs from the six to seven years it takes to raise their harvest. When the government takes a portion of the profits, this is no simple process.

We can also understand why it’s critical for farmers to take advantage of any and all tax advantages they can uncover in order to save as much money as possible given that the boom period will undoubtedly be followed by a bust. Even that is frequently insufficient. Because the recession cycle is now much longer than the boom times, according to historical pricing data, many small family farms have found it impossible to sustain.

The utilization of current diffuser-based production procedures, where the need for high-quality mature agave is reduced, is largely responsible for why bust periods now last so much longer than they used to.

According to Murillo, “I think the shortage will last longer because many agave purchasers are buying very young agaves, some as young as 3-years old.

According to Lustig, companies utilizing conventional techniques are directly affected by diffuser producers’ usage of younger agaves.

According to Lustig, “there is so little mature agave left that the better quality distillers [had to] raise prices due to the limited availability.

He claims that it has taken longer to reach the end of this cycle than it would have without the widespread availability of inexpensive diffuser juice.

Sustainability

A rise in agave supply is anticipated over the next five to six years, however some have correctly noted that this does not address sustainability. Starting with the agave plant itself, there are several challenges that have an impact on the long-term health of the sector.

The majority of agave is produced using genetically identical clones of the mother plant. The issue with this is that if the plant isn’t allowed to change and evolve, it may end up being vulnerable to a disease or pest that might obliterate a sizable portion of the supply. For this reason, some are urging agave farmers to let the plant self-pollinate.

“David G. Suro, owner of the Siembra Azul and Siembra Valles tequila brands, claims that he has been working to draw attention to this issue for more than twenty years. “Nobody I know starts plants from seeds. If there is someone out there, I would want to meet them and wish them luck!

The effects of climate change, which have escalated beyond anything this remarkable 12-million-year-old plant has ever experienced, are making things even more urgent.

“According to Dr. Benjamn Rodrguez-Garay, a plant biotechnology researcher at CIATEJ Unidad Zapopan who focuses on the genetic development of the agave species, all living things are suffering as a result of climate change.

According to him, it would typically take a disease 800 years to evolve to the point where it could outsmart the agave’s immune system in a stable environment. However, with colder winters and hotter summers, bacteria and other microbes will find it simpler to attack the stressed-out agave plants caused by climate fluctuations, drastically cutting down on that time.

As part of its normal reproductive cycle, the agave plant will develop a tall quiote that will bear flowers, seeds, and tiny clones of itself.

“Plants from seed produced through open pollination are often recommended as the answer because the genetic diversity is regained. According to Rodrguez-Garay, this will not be successful for the tequila sector in the real world. ” Instead, I suggest using controlled pollination to increase genetic variation before choosing the genotypes and phenotypes that perform well in the new, challenging environmental conditions.

Identifying the plants that are thriving in the current climate and then gathering seeds to plant a piece of the crop to reestablish some form of natural protection is the kind of genetic breeding that Rodrguez-Garay is advocating for different types of crops.

“He continues, “We are working on these challenges, as well as… many other Mexican institutions. At CIATEJ, we have devised protocols to do all of the above.”

However, despite the risks, it is still quicker and simpler to carry on with the widespread commercial practice of employing the genetic clones made by agave plants.

“According to Suro, the methods manufacturers are currently employing are not long-term beneficial to the sector.

A few manufacturers have hinted that they may begin experimenting with acquiring agave grown from seed, but no one has really done so as of yet.

Although it is encouraging that producers are paying more attention to sustainability, there is another vital component of tequila manufacturing that may be in jeopardy: the jimadores. These are the field workers who, frequently under harsh desert-like circumstances, perform the back-breaking task of harvesting agave plants. Agave harvesting is the only step in the production process that cannot be automated, in contrast to almost every other step. The tequila business will suffer if the jimador population does not increase in line with demand.

In order to make tequila, a jimador in Jalisco, Mexico, harvests a mature blue agave plant.

Although the role of jimador has historically been passed down from generation to generation, there is no financial incentive for subsequent generations to carry on the family business because they work for roughly the same wage during boom and bust periods.

“According to Suro, we are not providing any incentives for future jimador generations. “As an industry, we must develop financial incentives to keep them employed in the sector. When it comes to establishing those incentives, we are doing a terrible job.

Therefore, despite this present “The agave problem is actually simply a natural cycle, but if we don’t take care of agaves’ health and sustainability and properly reward those who take care of and grow them, it might turn into a tragedy. But for now, relax and sip some tequila. It took many years, a lot of effort, and a lot of spirit.