Jesus Gonzales, who has more than 30 years in the Nogales produce industry and was most recently with Foodsource, is now general manager of the Nogales office of Fresno, CA-based Crown Jewels Produce Co.
Prior to Foodsource, “I was with Sysco here in Nogales, when Sysco had a purchasing office here,” Gonzales told The Produce News. “I ran the [Sysco] office here in Nogales at that time.” Before that, “I was with Carlsbad Produce for nine years, and before that, I was with Mandel Produce, back before it was SunFed.”
On sales at Crown Jewels in Nogales are Juan Medina, who joined the company a year ago and was formerly with J.C. Distributing in Nogales, and Robbie Mathias Jr., son of company president Rob Mathias.
Crown Jewels started the current season in Nogales with squash out of the state of Sonora the first week in October. “We currently are receiving squash, and we will go with that through May,” Gonzales said.
A week after the squash started, “we started cucumbers,” also out of Sonora, and those will also go through May, he said.
The squash and cucumbers could possibly continue into June, he added, but “the market will determine that.”
Crown Jewels also has a squash grower in the state of Sinaloa, and that deal had started as well, “so we are actually going with three different growers, receiving daily from them.”
He expected eggplant to begin within a week and to continue through April.
“The first week of December, we will have green bells and green beans starting. And then we will have colored bell peppers,” red, yellow and orange, hothouse grown, starting about mid-December, he said.
The peppers, green beans and eggplant are all from Sinaloa.
In the spring, “we will be back in Sonora” and will have cantaloupe, watermelons and honeydew melons, Gonzales said. That will be followed by “our grape deal in May.”
Crown Jewels’ cucumber program will be significantly larger this year than in the past. “We are looking at probably another 400,000 more [packages of] cucumbers,” he said. They are from the same growers, “just more acreage.”
On cucumbers and on squash, “we definitely want to have them from start to finish, all the way through” the Nogales deal, Gonzales said.
So far this year, the quality on Crown Jewels’ cucumbers and squash “has been excellent,” he said. “We are anticipating eggplant will be excellent as well. “On the bells and beans, we are expecting good quality, but we did have that rain down there. Production, when we start, will be limited. We will start in a slower way than anticipated, because we were definitely set back a little.”
By the third week in December, “we should have pretty steady volume and pretty excellent quality,” he said.