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Sage to move promotable crop to global customers

Sage Fruit. Co., headquartered in Yakima, WA, expects to have a highly promotable cherry crop from the Pacific Northwest in 2013. “Our cherry acreage has increased compared to last season,” President Chuck Sinks told The Produce News. “We have added more tonnage in our later districts. Sage Fruit continues to grow our cherry tonnage each season.”

The company grows and markets cherries in both Washington and Oregon. “The early spring was warm in our growing districts, which are [Washington’s] Yakima Valley and The Dalles, OR,” he went on to say. “Bloom was seven to 10 days earlier than last year, but the pollination period after bloom was colder than normal and some districts received frost. We expect overall tonnage to be similar [to 2012] because trees will have less fruit on them compared to last year’s record crop.”

SageSage Fruit ‘Biggest Loser’ cherries. (Photo courtesy of Sage Fruit) Bing cherries comprise between 60-65 percent of Sage Fruit’s overall volume. “The other 35-40 percent consists of Chelan, Tieton, Sweetheart, Regina, Lapin and Skeena,” Sinks stated.

“We will wrap up our harvest in late July and early August,” he commented. “We made some upgrades to some of our bagging machines at our cherry facility to help increase efficiencies.”

Approximately 85 percent of the company’s cherry crop is marketed domestically.

This season, Sage Fruit will introduce its new pouch bags for dark sweet cherries and Rainier.

The company’s partnership with NBC will continue this season. “We also have exclusive rights on cherries to pack in the high-graphic NBC ‘Biggest Loser’ bags,” Sinks said.

On the food-safety front, he said Sage Fruit is constantly updating food-safety audits.