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The Chuck Olsen Co. will move from fall grapes into desert citrus program

It has been “a different type of year” in the grape business in California, said Jeff Olsen, vice president of The Chuck Olsen Co. in Visalia, CA, Aug. 5. “Even though we did have a later start, things are moving well, and I hope they continue to do so. I would hope that the later part of the deal should finish up fairly strong.”

At a time when the California grape season would normally be at or approaching peak production, supplies continued light in early August. But by the end of August, Mr. Olsen expected the company’s grape program to be going strong with good volume on several varieties.

“We will be going on Scarlet Royals, Sweet Scarlets and Autumn Royals and probably still going on some Princess and Thompsons,” he said. Then Crimsons and Red Globes will kick in, and “we will have a handful of Autumn Kings toward the end of October.”

The company has acreage increases in several varieties this year due to having picked up additional growers. “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,” Mr. Olsen told The Produce News in July.

Growers often have trouble getting Crimsons to color, but this year it does not appear that will be a problem, he said in the August interview. “Looking down the road, there is color on Crimsons right now.” Some growers had already started to pick Crimsons, “and that is fairly early,” he said. If the Crimsons continue to color well and if there is “a normal size crop,” the season should have “a strong finish. It would be good for the growers and good for everybody,” he said.

The Chuck Olsen Co. also has a new citrus deal this fall and winter with The DiMare Co. Indio in Indio, CA. “We will be starting the sales for the DiMare citrus out of District 3,” the Southern California desert, “probably about the middle part of September,” Mr. Olsen said. “That is something new for us, and we are looking forward to that.”

The program will consist of lemons, grapefruit, Minneolas, Murcott tangerines and “a few oranges.” The Navel oranges won’t start until around mid-November, he said.

The citrus will be packed into the “DiMare” label and also, probably into Olsen labels such as “Stagecoach,” he said. “We will be doing bags and RPCS and any type of citrus packs that are available.”

Due to a freeze earlier in the year, District 3 volume is going to be down “probably 40 percent to 50 percent overall,” he said.

Also during the fall period, The Chuck Olsen Co. will be brokering various fruit items. “We will be doing some melons and probably some berries, and we are doing stone fruit,” he said. “The way the plum thing feels …. it might go into October,” but peach and nectarine movement “has been wonderful, so I don’t think there are going to be any big volumes into September like there sometimes is.”