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Stevco to have increase in Sugraone volume for early SJV season

Stevco Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles, grows table grapes in the San Joaquin Valley and the Coachella Valley of California and also imports grapes from the Mexican state of Sonora.

With branch offices in Nogales, AZ, Coachella, CA, and Bakersfield, CA, the company has North America-grown table grapes as long as anyone in the business.

“At Stevco, we continue to grow our total acreage, both in Coachella and the San Joaquin Valley, with the newer varieties and the newer plantings,” said Jared Lane, vice president of sales and marketing.

In the San Joaquin Valley, “we plan to start Sugraones tentatively around the 11th to the 13th of July,” Mr. Lane said June 2.

Summer Royals will start about the same time, and Flames will follow, starting around July 18. Princess will start about July 25, and Red Globes will start Aug. 5-10.

Those are the earliest varieties. In addition, the company grows a full complement of later grape varieties in the San Joaquin Valley. Among them are Crimson seedless, Scarlet Royal and Autumn Royal.

In the early varieties, “we have added acreage in Sugraones,” and in Red Globes also “we have a little bit of added acreage,” Mr. Lane said.

“The majority of our added acreage has been in the Maricopa growing region” at the southern end of the Sana Joaquin Valley southwest of Bakersfield. “Normally we harvest [the Maricopa ranches] five to seven days earlier than the ranches in the Bakerfield-Delano area,” he said.

The anticipated start dates this year are about the same as last year, “which is later than normal,” said Mr. Lane.

The company in early June was shipping grapes from both Mexico and Coachella. The transition from those districts to the San Joaquin Valley “is very uncertain right now,” largely due to “the shortness of the crop in Mexico,” he said. “We don’t know what demand is going to take place, so we are not 100 percent certain if there is going to be a little gap or if there is going to be plenty of fruit left over” when the San Joaquin Valley starts, “or what is going to happen.”

But what is certain, he continued, is that “Mexico is short on Flames and Sugraones. Coachella is a little bit shorter than normal” also, he said, but “not as drastic as Mexico.”

Looking at prospects for the San Joaquin Valley crop, two varieties appear likely to have lower-than-average yields “in different ranches in different areas,” those being Red Globe and Autumn Royal. “Our Summer Royal crop looks normal,” he said, and “Princess, Crimson and Scarlet Royal look to be very normal or above average.”

However, “as of right now, we are just starting to put our sizing sprays on, so it is hard to tell what the crop size is going to be at this point,” he said.

With regard to packaging, “Clamshells are slowly gaining percentage, mostly with the clubstores,” and returnable plastic containers are increasing in popularity, but “there is not a lot of new packaging out,” Mr. Lane said.

New on sales with Stevco this season is Andrew Brown, who has been with the company on the logistics side for about three years and just switched to the sales desk following the end of last season.

Also on sales, in addition to Mr. Lane, are Brian Mullhofer; Mike Torczon; Steven Gilfenbain, the company’s founder and chief executive officer; and David Clyde, president, who handles export sales.