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A total of seven potato research projects are under way this year as the result of block grants obtained by the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, and CPAC Executive Director Jim Ehrlich said soil health, new variety potato breeding guidelines, post-harvest physiology and integrated management of silver scurf are among the issues being studied.

“We just finished with our research funding,” Ehrlich told The Produce News in early April. “Now we’re trying to put that together with the block grant project.”

Ehrlich said two block grants were approved last year for funding this year, which will be used to study means of improving soil health through rotation, cover crops and green manure.

“We’re tying to narrow it down,” he said of researching ways that “promote more knowledge of soil health.”

Another study will look at nematode control using biological controls, and Ehrlich said scientists will be “looking at native soils here in the San Luis Valley that have never had nematodes.”

The soil is found in several valley locations, and Ehrlich said researchers are eager to find why those particular spots have been, thus far, removed from the problem of nematodes.

As the research continues, so do efforts to bolster trade with Mexico.

The executive director said SLV shippers traveled to the recent ANTAD trade show held in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“Farm Fresh Direct, Skyline and RPE Colorado had people attend, and reports were that it was a good show,” he said of the March event. “We continue to get new customers for the 26-kilometer border region, and figures from Potatoes USA show that shipments from the United States continue to increase to that region.”

Regarding the 2016 crop, Ehrlich said that San Luis Valley acreage is expected to be “about the same as last year,” which was, according to CPAC information earlier in 2016, 51,000 acres. Conventionals comprised 47,000 acres, and organics accounted for 4,000 acres. Russets made up 38,540 of the conventional acres and 3,280 of the organics. In reds there were 2,820 acres in conventional and 240 acres in organics. Yellows had 3,290 acres in conventional and 280 in organics. And specialties had 2,350 acres in conventional, 200 in organics.

“I don’t anticipate we’ll be down much if at all,” Ehrlich said.

Organics continue to increase in demand, and Ehrlich said the area’s fingerlings are also seeing growing demand.

“There’s also more and more demand for petites,” Ehrlich  said.

In terms of snowpack, the San Juan Mountains were at 84 percent of normal in early April but were as high as 110 percent during the winter.

“We’re not in bad shape,” Ehrlich said, “but we could use more snow.”

Albertsons Cos. has appointed current Denver Division President Susan Morris to the position of executive vice president of retail operations over its East region. Morris is filling the vacancy created when Kelly Griffith announced earlier this month that he would be leaving the company.albertSusan Morris

Since March of 2015, Morris has led the company’s Denver Division team, overseeing over 130 stores in five states. She joined Albertsons when she was 16 as a customer service clerk in Colorado, and worked at store level until she graduated from Colorado State University when she accepted a job at the division office. Her career has spanned roles from store director to corporate grocery sales director, vice president of bakery and operations and, upon the sale of Albertson’s Inc.’s assets to Supervalu, vice president of customer satisfaction. In 2010, she was senior vice president of sales and merchandising when she left Supervalu to join Albertsons LLC. In March 2013, Morris moved from her role as vice president of marketing and merchandising for the Southwest division to Intermountain division president.

“Starting at an entry-level position and working your way up to a leadership role is very much alive and well at Albertsons Companies, and Susan is the latest example of that,” Wayne Denningham, chief operating officer, said in a press release. “In the span of our company’s history, we have helped to develop some of the greatest retail leaders in the industry today, and Susan is certainly an excellent addition to that list. Her experience in grocery is invaluable both as an operator and a merchant. We look forward to her taking on this key role as we look to continue to grow and strengthen our operation while furthering our goal of becoming the Favorite Local Supermarket across the nearly 2,300 neighborhoods we serve.”

Fresh Express, a retail packaged salad producer, and Chiquita welcomed Florida Gov. Rick Scott as they celebrated the recent move of their corporate headquarters to Florida.

The move brings approximately 120 Fresh Express and Chiquita jobs to the new Fresh Express headquarters in Orlando, and another 90 jobs to Chiquita's new headquarters in Dania Beach in south Florida. The two companies have a combined annual revenue of $3 billion a year.  rickstoGov. Rick Scott visited the new Fresh Express headquarters

"Fresh Express is incredibly excited to become part of the Orlando community," Ken Diveley, chief executive officer and president of Fresh Express, said in a press release. "It's clear that the central Florida region, and the entire state, is a tremendous area in which to locate our offices. We look forward to being part of the great state of Florida, where Gov. Scott continues to build a strong business community."

Gov. Scott toured the new Fresh Express headquarters, met with company officials and welcomed the company to the Sunshine State.

"We are working to make Florida the best place in the country to live and raise a family," Gov. Scott said. "Today's announcement means hundreds more Floridians will be able to get a great job in the Sunshine State. I would like to thank Fresh Express and Chiquita for choosing Florida to grow their company. Florida businesses have created more than 1 million new jobs across the state in just five years, and we will keep working to make sure Florida continues on the path to becoming first for jobs."

The move was spurred last year after the Cutrale Group, one of the largest orange juice producers in the world, and the Safra Group, a global financial services firm, acquired Chiquita Brands International. Fresh Express is a subsidiary of Chiquita.

After the acquisition, the owners decided to move the Chiquita and Fresh Express headquarters from Charlotte, NC, to Florida. Orlando was selected because of its proximity to other Cutrale Group holdings, and Dania Beach was selected because of its proximity to the port where Chiquita receives bananas for ripening and distribution.

The new Orlando headquarters features 90 jobs for Fresh Express and 30 jobs to service Chiquita's corporate IT needs. The headquarters includes offices for executive management, as well as sales, marketing, operations, human resources, procurement and logistics. The Dania Beach headquarters will serve similar central office functions for Chiquita.

"We're happy to add to the economic health of the area, and we look forward to growing Fresh Express here," Diveley said.

Fresh Express distributes about 250 different salad, vegetable and fruit products, with 50 fresh produce offerings for food service outlets and healthy snack products. In addition to the Orlando headquarters, it also has five packaging plants throughout the U.S.

Chiquita distributes bananas in approximately 70 counties around the world. In addition to its Florida headquarters, it has major operations in Europe and Central America, as well as distribution and ripening facilities throughout the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative complaint under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act against World Best Tropical LLC. The company, operating from Florida, allegedly failed to make payment to eight produce sellers in the amount of $341,918 from February 2014 through October 2014.

World Best Tropical LLC will have an opportunity to request a hearing. Should USDA find that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry for two years.  Furthermore, its principal could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for one year and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,700 PACA claims involving more than $66 million. Its experts also assisted more than 7,100 callers with issues valued at approximately $100 million.

The Tanimura family announced the loss of their family patriarch and agricultural legend George Tanimura. Mr. Tanimura died peacefully at his home in Salinas, CA, on April 15. He was 100.

Mr. Tanimura was born in San Juan Bautista on July 2, 1915, to Eijiro Kimoto and Yukino Tanimura. While attending grammar school in Castroville, Mr. Tanimura thinned iceberg lettuce on his father’s small farm. After his mother died, he, the eldest son of his 12 siblings, was compelled to quit school to farm with his father. Mr. Tanimura quickly learned how to work.0010---George-TanimuraGeorge Tanimura

Shortly thereafter, in the midst of the Great Depression Ejiro, Mr. Tanimura’s father, died, leaving Mr. Tanimura with the responsibility for the family. He managed the family business while his sister Chisato returned from Japan to care for the children. The family moved into a ranch house in Aromas. As a young patriarch, he was required to guide the family through numerous historical and economic challenges thus developing his stern but loving way.

During World War II, Mr. Tanimura and members of his family were removed from their farms and placed in internment camps in Poston, AZ. Although he lost everything during his internment, he managed to find the love of his life, Masaye Yamauchi. They were married in the camp on Sept. 21, 1944, and last year they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. Masaye has been by his side every step of their journey and even this week, remained by his side.

Following the War, the Tanimura family began rebuilding their lives performing manual labor in the fields in Gilroy. Through hard work and the strong bonds of respect, love, and cooperation, Mr. Tanimura and his brothers created a dynamic and successful farming enterprise. The Tanimura family farmed small patches of land, saved the profits, and ultimately purchased their first acre of land. This simple formula began the Tanimura’s trek towards the American Dream.

In 1948, the Tanimura Family began a farming relationship with another agricultural legend, Bud Antle. Shortly thereafter, the Tanimuras began to grow exclusively for Bud Antle Inc. Antle, and his son, Bob Antle, began working closely with the Tanimura family for over 34 years. In 1982 this relationship culminated in the formation of Tanimura & Antle. Mr. Tanimura along with his brothers, Charlie, Johnny, Tommy and Bobby, and nephews, Gary and Keith, formed Tanimura & Antle with Bob Antle and his sons Rick and Mike. This partnership joined the Tanimura growing expertise with the Antle packing, marketing and shipping expertise. Mr. Tanimura and Bob Antle became inseparable partners and co-chairmen of the board as they worked together to successfully lead Tanimura & Antle to become the premier agriculture company in the world.

The partnership is marked by years of agricultural industry leadership and serves as an icon in the family farming enterprises of the Salinas Valley. Tanimura & Antle was far more than a business for Mr. Tanimura; it was his life. Lettuce prices, transplant technology, new hydroponic varieties, and any other farming related topic dominated the discussions with Mr. Tanimura. His continued commitment will live on because he instilled this drive and passion in everyone around him.

Mr. Tanimura served in many leadership positions within the Tanimura family companies, the Tanimura & Antle companies, charities, and community organizations. Mr. Tanimura was also the recipient of several distinctive honors and recognitions. Because they always made him uncomfortable, he downplayed these accomplishments. He avoided any fanfare and attempted to quietly stay in the background.

According to T&A, Mr. Tanimura personally participated in every farming innovation in the Salinas Valley. When it happened, he was not only involved, but he was an active player. One of his most passionate projects was drip irrigation. He advocated the use of this technology to improve farming practices and reduce water usage long before it was a necessity or government mandate.

Everyone in the family looked to Mr. Tanimura to lead the discussion, share his wisdom, and ultimately make the family decisions. Family was very important to Mr. Tanimura, but so was farming. His pride and joy was the Tres Picos Ranch in Huron, CA. He enjoyed visits to Huron at least once a week and during the season multiple times a week even during his hundredth year. Being on the ranch always brought him peace and happiness. If you drove to Tres Picos with Mr. Tanimura, it would not be an early night. Stopping for pickled pig’s feet at Woolgrowers in Los Banos was a late night Tuesday tradition.

In July 2014, Mr. Tanimura celebrated the beginning of his 100th year with a milestone centennial birthday celebration with family, business partners and friends. Over 600 people joined together to honor and respect the highly regarded Salinas family farmer. In July 2015, he quietly celebrated his actual 100th birthday surrounded by his wonderful family eating his favorite Saba sushi.

All who knew Mr. Tanimura loved him. His presence and influence will be greatly missed.

Mr. Tanimura is survived by his wife Masaye, son, Glenn (Sheila) Tanimura and daughter Leslie (Ken) Morishita, grandchildren Chris (Becky) Tanimura, Erin, Ryan and Kelly Tanimura, and great grandchildren Makenzie, Jaklyn, and Karter Tanimura. He is also survived by his brother Tommy (Hisako) Tanimura; his sister-in-law, Sachi Tanimura, wife of his late brother Johnny and sister Rose Yuki. George was predeceased by Chisato Tanimura, Tame (Masato) Nakano, Charlie (Fumi) Tanimura, Alice (Ben) Sato, Johnny Tanimura, Betty (Kaz) Furusho, Benjamin Tanimura, Hiroko Tanimura, Bobby Tanimura, and Tamotsu Tanimura.

The viewing will be held Saturday, April 23 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Struve & Laporte Funeral Chapel located at 41 W San Luis Street, Salinas, CA, 93901. The funeral and memorial service will be held on Sunday, April 24 at 1 p.m. at the Buddhist Temple of Salinas located at 14 California Street, Salinas, CA 93901.

The Tanimura family has asked that anyone wishing to honor Mr. Tanimura with a donation, please donate to the Tanimura Family Foundation, P.O. Box 4070, Salinas, CA 93912.