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ORANGE COVE, CA -- Booth Ranches LLC, a family-owned, fully integrated citrus grower, packer and shipper, signed an agreement the week of Sept. 7 to purchase an existing packing facility presently owned by Sunny Cove Citrus LLC.

This acquisition will more than double Booth's volume packing capacity, according to Neil Galone, vice president of marketing and sales at Booth. "Our volume continues to grow as a result of a long-term strategy, and this new packinghouse will give us the increased capacity to get us to the next level," he said in a Sept. 16 press release.

The Sunny Cove packinghouse alone has the capacity to pack more than 2 million cartons of Navels. This capacity, combined with the volume at its existing Orange Cove facility, will give the company the ability to pack much of the growth it has planned for the next several years. The company said that it currently has enough trees in the ground to grow its volume to nearly 4 million Navels by the 2012 season. Much of the Booth growth will come in the form of late-season Navels. "We see that as an opportunity to fill a need at retail," Mr. Galone said in the release.

The Sunny Cove purchase is an acquisition of the packing facility only. There were no groves included in the deal. The packinghouse is 170,000 square feet in size and is situated on 11 acres. The degreening rooms have a 4,000 field-bin capacity, and there is an on-site drenching station. The front end is set up to function as either a presize or a commit-to-pack-operation.

There are three machine sizer-graders and an X-ray machine for frost separation. The configuration will also increase the company's ability to pack bags, the release concluded.