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Crown Jewels offers many types of fruit for fall season

FRESNO, CA — “We gear up heavy for the fall fruit deal,” said Atomic Torosian, a managing partner at Crown Jewels Produce Co., here. The company offers a wide assortment of California-grown fruit throughout the season, with a particularly diverse line-up of commodities from late summer through fall.

Grapes are a major part of the program, Mr. Torosian said Aug. 5. “We are still harvesting Flames at the moment, but we will [soon] transition into Crimson grapes” as well as various other red seedless varieties such as Sweet Scarlet, Scarlet Royal and Vintage Red.

In black seedless varieties, “we are starting to pack a few Fantasy variety [grapes] this next week,” he said. “Then we will go into Autumn Royals shortly after.”

The company’s late green seedless deal involves Thompson, Princess and Autumn King varieties, he said.

In the seeded category, “we just started picking some Red Globes today,” he said. “That is another big variety for the months of September and October and even into November.”

The grapes are packed in standard cartons and returnable plastic containers. “We are also packing into clamshells,” Mr. Torosian said. “We are doing more clamshells every year.”

Most of the fruit is packed in either the “Crown Jewels” or the “King’s Taste” label, he said.

In addition to grapes, “we have a lot of cantaloupes we are packing,” Mr. Torosian said. “We will be in our peak production between now and the end of September on cantaloupes and honeydews. Quality has been very good.”

The company’s honeydew production will be down from what it was last year because the grower “planted fewer acres,” he said. Other growers are also down on their honeydew plantings. “Consequently the honeydew prices have been very steady and much higher than last year.”

The melons are grown by the Perez family and packed by Perez Packing Inc. in Firebaugh, CA, in the “King Crow” label. The farms are located on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley “from Firebaugh all the way up to Crow’s Landing,” he said.

Pomegranates are a major fall item for Crown Jewels. They are “a big deal for us,” Mr. Torosian said. “With the grower we represent [Steve Barsoom], we are probably the second-largest pomegranate shipper in the industry.”

Volume will be up a little on the pomegranates this year, he said. “We are estimating our production to be about a half million boxes.”

The harvest will start in late August, continuing into October, “and we will ship well into the month of December,” he said. The pomegranates are being custom-packed at Ito Packing in Reedley, CA, “where they have been packed for the last 40 or 50 years.”

Apples and pears are also “big items for us,” Mr. Torosian said.

In the pear category, “currently we are packing Bartlett pears, Bosc pears, Comice, Forelles, Seckels and Stark Crimson red pears. Then we will pack Taylor’s Gold,” he said.

In apples, “we started Gala apples yesterday,” he said. Those will be followed by Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji and Pink Lady varieties. “They will take us all the way into the middle of November” with the Pink Lady harvest, “and we will ship all the way to the end of the year.”

The company’s total volume of apples and pears is expected to be close to a million boxes this year, he said. “Our production is up on all varieties except Galas. We are down a little bit on Galas this year.”