Agave Management Initiatives
Environmental responsibility is one of the central tenets that anchors our impact philosophy.
Del Maguey and its mezcal producing partners participate in a variety of agave management initiatives. Each program is unique to the needs of environmental stewardship to meet growing market demand.
Agave Espadin (A. angustifolia Haw.) is the primary cultivated agave used in the mezcal industry and the Del Maguey portfolio. These agaves reproduce in three ways. Genetically diverse plants are reproduced sexually through seed pollination, via pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, moths, bats, and opossums. Genetic clones of the mother plant reproduce asexually through rhizomes and bulbils. Rhizomes are underground offshoots that grow beside the mother plant and bulbils (pods) form on the flowering stalk of the quiote at the end of the plant’s life cycle.
Del Maguey producers and agronomists utilize all three reproduction methods to ensure genetic diversity and effective plantation management of Agave Espadin.
Wild Agave Management in Del Maguey Producing Villages
For agave that grows in the wild there are a number of different strategies employed for sustainable agave management.
Each producer within their community has to abide by local governance policies regarding their wild agave populations.
For example, in the communities of Santo Domingo Albarradas and Santa Maria Albarradas the local municipality has a strict policy that locally harvested agave must be transformed into mezcal in the village. This implies that outside parties cannot purchase agave directly for production in other areas of the state. The producers inform Del Maguey what their annual allotment of each agave will be and this dictates the maximum production of that varietal for the year. For generations, this is how the natural resource has been successfully managed.
Other producers, in San Luis del Rio, San Jose Rio Minas, San Pedro Teozacoalco and Santa Catarina Minas have their own nurseries where they cultivate wild agave expressions from seed.
Wild Agave and Tree Nursery in Teotitlan del Valle
Del Maguey is also working with local communities to have greater nursery infrastructure to grow plants from seed. In 2019, Del Maguey built a nursery in Teotitlan del Valle, where our bottling bodega and offices are located, in support of our sustainability strategies. This nursery is growing wild agave and trees from seed as part of its overall reforestation program. The nursery has a local water source and the water is distributed to the plants via solar energy water pump. Currently, Tobala, Tepeztate, Cuishe, and Espadin are being cultivated along with the trees, Guamuchil, and Red Oak.
In 2020, we delivered thousands of Tobala, Tepeztate, Madrecuishe, and Jabali seeds that are now being germinated in these nurseries.
In 2021 we will replant these saplings, first in controlled environments if they need to grow an additional year, and then in the local communities who participate in this reforestation program.
By definition, these plants are semi-wild due to the human intervention in their development. But since the survival rate of seeds grown to full maturity in the wild is not very high, 2,000:1 or so, programs like this are meant to support the rate of survival from seed to full plant maturity in their natural and wild ecosystems.
From well-planned maguey cultivation strategies to reforestation projects that address ecosystems and wild agave, our environmental mission focuses on leaving a positive, impactful footprint in the majestic Oaxacan terrain.