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Lisa ups pickle acreage 20 percent, moves all Romas under shade

In general, “our program really hasn’t changed” at Lisa Inc. in Nogales, AZ, according to Sales Manager John Lichter. The company just continues “trying to do a good job and take care of customers and doing the best we can” to grow the products.

But while there may not be much new at Lisa, there are a couple of noteworthy exceptions.

Pickles have long been one of Lisa’s core items, and this year, “we increased our pickle acreage a little bit — about 20 percent,” he said.

According to the company’s website, Lisa produces about 58 million pounds of fresh pickling cucumbers a year.

The other significant change is Lisa is no longer growing any of its Romas open-field. “Everything we have is under shade this year,” Mr. Lichter said. The volume of Romas being grown is about the same as last year, but this year “everything is in shadehouse.”

14-Nogales-Lisa-LichterJohn Lichter, sales manager at Lisa Inc. in Nogales, AZ, shows off some of the company’s core product.The Roma program was expanded significantly a year ago, as the company put in over 100 acres of greenhouses dedicated to Roma production, increasing the company’s volume by an estimated 50 percent to almost a million packages. the company first got into the Roma business about a decade prior, Mr. Lichter told The Produce News in a previous interview in November 2011. “Every year, we have increased, and our quality has gotten better every year.”

Jalapenos and banana peppers are the company’s other main commodities, and “everything is the same” on both of those this year, Mr. Lichter said in the Nov. 2012 interview.

“Everything looks OK” with the crops so far, he said. “As long as the weather stays OK, everything is going to be all right. Everything looks healthy.”

The company started harvesting pickles in mid-October, was already going on Banana peppers, and expected to start Jalapenos around Nov. 26, with Romas following around the first or second week of December, Mr. Lichter said.

All of the products are being grown in the Culiacan and La Cruz areas of the state of Sinaloa, Mexico.

Ordinarily, “we will run with the pickles from mid-October till the first or second week of May,” he said. “We may even go a little bit later this year, maybe to the end of May, maybe a week into June. We are going to try, and see what happens.” Since the weather is a little cooler on the coast, in the La Cruz area, than it is in Culiacan, “we are going to put some there to run through the month of May.” That late planting account s for part of the firm’s expected increase in pickle production this season, but “we increased a little in Culiacan also, so we kind of split the increase between both places,” he said.

Lisa packs its pickles in the “7 L’s” label, its Romas in the “Gala” label and its chilis in the “La Flor” label.

All sales are handled by Mr. Lichter, who has been doing so for 24 years.

The company was founded by Mr. Lichter’s father, Juan Lichter, and his uncle, Jose Lichter, in 1978. Jose Lichter is currently the company’s president.

Mr. Lichter’s cousin, Abraham Chavez Lichter, is controller and manager, and Manny Moreno is logistics manager and foreman, he said. that is “the same group of people” as last year.

The company has been working continuously at perfecting the technology it uses for growing and packing and for food safety and traceability.

“All our merchandise is tagged” now for traceability, Mr. Lichter said.

As for food safety, “all our packing sheds down south are Primus-certified” and the Lisa facility in Nogales was in process of becoming Primus certified, he said. “We have been doing a lot of work to get Primus-certified.” The inspector was expected “to come her today and tomorrow,” and then “we will be signed off as Primus-certified here at Lisa also.”