Crown Jewels Produce Co. in Fresno, CA, expects an increase in its table grape volume out of the San Joaquin Valley of California during the 2013 season as a result of additional acreage coming into the program, according to Atomic Torosian, a partner in the company.
“Crown Jewels has picked up a little bit more acreage than we had last year,” Torosian said. “We are expecting to pick, pack and ship somewhere around a million-and-a-half boxes of grapes. It should be a full season.”
The company expected to begin shipping its first grapes out of the San Joaquin Valley, beginning with some early Flame seedless vineyards, “sometime the week of June 24,” he said. From there, “we will go right through the month of December, as we did last year. Then we will start with grapes out of Peru sometime in late December, and then that will transition again right into Chile,” followed by the company’s spring grape program out of Sonora, Mexico.
“We are pretty much a year-round shipper of grapes,” he said.
Starting Flames in late June will enable Crown Jewels to have some California grapes in the market for the Fourth of July pull in local markets. “It looks like it is a fairly full crop of grapes,” Torosian said. “We are hopeful of good quality. There will be a lot of grapes around for West Coast promotions. We will have local grapes up here for the Fourth of July” from the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
Shortly after the start of the Flame harvest, Crown Jewels will also start some early Sugraones in southern San Joaquin Valley vineyards, he said. Those should get going around July 4, 5 or 6, followed by Summer Royal black seedless grapes.
All of those start dates are earlier than the last few years, he said.
Volume should be strong not just for the early part of the season but clear through the deal, Torosian said. Based on the overall estimate, “it looks like we will have a full crop of California grapes to deal with from Kern County north.”
Crown Jewels is giving “more attention” this year to packing grapes in clear gusseted bags, some with handles and some without. Many retailers now want “these special bags,” Torosian said. “It makes for a better preparation.” The company has been packing the gusseted bags in its Mexico program and will continue to do so in California.
“Another style of pack we are putting up more of is the two-pound clamshells,” he said. “That is getting to be a bigger and bigger program for us.” Crown Jewels also did four-pound clamshells in its Chilean program this year, “but we will be focusing more on the two-pound clamshells up here,” he said. “We are also doing that out of Mexico.”