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Chuck Olsen Co. boosts acreage with new growers

The Chuck Olsen Co. Inc. in Visalia, CA, has “probably about a 30 percent increase overall” in grape acreage this year, not because of new plantings but because of additional growers the company has picked up, according to Jeff Olsen, vice president.

“We’ve got new growers” who have brought into the mix “a little bit more Sweet Scarlets, more Scarlet Royals, a few Autumn Kings, more Princess, more Thompsons, more Crimsons, more Autumn Royals and more Red globes,” he said.

The company, which markets grapes and citrus year-round and also distributes tree fruit, melons and other produce, has also picked up a new citrus deal out of the California southern desert from the DiMare Co. in Indio, CA, Mr. Olsen said. “We’ll have some lemons around the middle part of September from District 3 [the desert],” which is right at the peak of California’s San Joaquin Valley grape season.

The company’s San Joaquin Valley grapes were just about ready to start when The Produce News talked to Mr. Olsen July 12. “We are getting started here tomorrow on Flames,” he said. Those will be followed by “some Princess and Summer Royals,” probably around Aug. 1, “the way things are looking,” and then “roll into the rest of the varieties.”

In general, Everything looks pretty good,” although the set on the Autumn Royal crop “is not the best … not only [for] us but pretty much everybody,” he said.

“Overall quality does look pretty good,” he added. “There is some erratic sizing on some ranches, but for the most part, it is pretty nice fruit.”

The important thing, he said, is that “the fruit eats well, is good-quality, and [is] priced right at the store” so it will “move off the shelf. That is what we need.”

Olsen’s first Flames, which are within about a week of being as early as any in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, come from a ranch located just south of Fresno, CA, Mr. Olsen said. “It is always early for whatever reason.” When he tells people those early Flames come from the Fresno area and not from one of the traditionally early districts further south in the valley, a common reaction, he said, is, “Are you serious?”