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Malena grape program has added acreage and a full crop

“We have a good grape program coming up,” Gonzalo Avila, vice president and general manager of Malena Produce Inc. in Nogales, AZ, said in an interview with The Produce News.

Malena will have additional acreage in its Sonora grape program this year. “We are growing our program a little bit,” Mr. Avila said. “We have new vineyards coming on, particularly in Flames,” but “volume is going to be up across the board for us at Malena.”

Most of the company’s grapes are coming out of the coastal area west of Hermosillo. “We will have a little bit of volume coming up from Pesquiera,” which is on the north side of Hermosillo, “and a little coming up from Caborca” farther to the north. “But most of it is going to be out of the coastal part of Hermosillo.”

06-MexGrapes-Malena-GonzaloGonzalo AvilaThe season’s start will be similar to last year or a few days later, but based on “what we have set so far” on the vines, “especially on the Perlettes and Flames” which are the earliest varieties, “it looks like we are going to have a good solid crop,” he said.

In addition to Flames and Perlettes, “we will have the Sugraones,” he said. Also, “we will have a little bit of the Autumn Royal and the Summer Royal, the black varieties.” Then “we will have a little bit of Red Globes at the back end of the deal.”

A typical start date for Malena is between May 10 and May 15 with early Perlettes, Mr. Avila said. “We usually go through the end of June, pretty much, with the later varieties. It is a six-week deal.”

This year’s across-the-board volume increases for Malena will come about partly “because we are going to be handling grapes from different vineyards now — new growers to us,” Mr. Avila said. In addition, an existing grower has more flames this year.

Most of the grapes will be coming up in either the “O.C. Brothers” label or the “Mal-Pro” label, he said.

In packaging, “there is a trend going on” toward greater use of the new gusseted bag, Mr. Avila said. That demand has come largely from “some of the market that has been using clamshells.”

Scott Terry handles Table grape sales at Malena, as he has for the last few years, Mr. Avila said.