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Duda Farm Fresh Foods expands acreage in several California citrus varieties

In its California citrus program for 2013-14, at Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. in Visalia, CA, will be offering navel oranges, Eureka and Lisbon-type lemons, Meyer lemons, Mandarins and Minneolas, according to Paul Huckabay, citrus manager for western citrus.

“In addition, we will be importing Mandarins from Morocco into the East Coast,” he said.

The company’s citrus crop volume will be up this year, and “a lot of our growth is attributed to new plantings” coming into maturity, Huckabay said Oct. 23.

“In reference to lemons,” he continued, “we have added a Coachella Valley lemon program this season, which has enabled us to have lemons in September through December.” That complements “our San Joaquin Valley program which will start in mid-November.”

In addition, “we have new acreage of Meyer lemons coming into production this year, which will continue to bolster” the volume of that variety, he said.

02-CalCitrus-Duda-Sales-teaKent Huckabay, Joel Gonzalez, Brent Young and Paul Huckabay; of Duda Farm Fresh Foods in Visalia. (Photo courtesy of Duda Farm Fresh Foods)“In navel oranges, we have also added volume to our overall program.” The increases are “pretty much across the board, but probably the majority of that volume increase we will realize in December and January.”

In addition, however, “we also have some later navel varieties like the Powell variety, which helps to extend our season into May and part of June.”

In Mandarins as well, Duda has newer plantings that are “hitting maturity,” Huckabay said. They are the Tango variety, “which helps to increase our late-season volume.”

Duda also has Clementines, which start late October and run through early January, but the growth this season is in the latter part of the season with Tango.

The citrus crops this year look “very nice,” Huckabay said. “Even though we are having some relatively warm daytime temperatures, the nighttime temperatures in the 40s have really enhanced the natural color on-tree, so if we continue to see the trend, that is going to minimize the amount of de-greening that will be required, and hopefully we will see ourselves in full-color citrus by sometime in November. That remains to be seen.”

Weather conditions “all the way through the growing season” have been ideal, and on navel oranges, fruit sizing is starting off in the 88, 133, 72 size range, which is going to make large-size navel oranges a bit shorter in supply, we think, until we get into the mid to latter part of November.”

The Mandarin crop, on the other hand, has “very ideal sizing,” with “good distribution of sizes, both large and small,” Huckabay said. “That is going to make it ideal for retail and foodservice.”

Last year, Duda introduced some innovative new packaging for some of its citrus products. For Mandarins, for example, in addition to five-pound boxes and two-pound and three-pound bags, the company introduced a small four-count grab-and-go convenience bag.

While there are no new packaging concepts being introduced this season, “we are continuing to expand our market range with the packaging that we have now,” Huckabay said.

Also, “we have developed a beautiful high-color display bin for our Mandarin program to be used at retail that has helped us to position the product in different locations throughout the store.” Retailers can either put a bulk Euro carton on the unit or display “any of our other Mandarin pack styles, the bags and the grab-and-go.”

In a written statement furnished to The Produce News Oct. 14, Huckabay described Duda as “a year-round grower-shipper of fresh citrus” from California and Florida and imported from around the world.

“Our ‘Dandy’ brand is well respected and known for high-quality. With our diverse product mix, we are able to provide customers with the highest quality citrus, innovative packaging and a one stop loading solution year-round.”