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Chuck Olsen Co. picks up two new growers, adds volume on several grape varieties

The Chuck Olsen Co. in Visalia, CA, which increased grape acreage in 2012 with the addition of new growers, will once again see additional growth in acreage from “two growers we have picked up,” according to Jeff Olsen, vice president of the company. That will contribute to an anticipated increase in grape volume for the 2012 season of roughly 20 percent.

“Last year, we ended up with almost 900,000” boxes of grapes, Mr. Olsen said. “We are hoping we will get somewhere around 1.1 [million] by the end of this year.”

006-CalGrapes-Olsen-JeffJeff OlsenOverall, the crop in the San Joaquin Valley “is looking good,” he said July 9. “It looks like it is going to be good strong fruit.”

The start of the harvest for the company was just one day away when The Produce News talked to Mr. Olsen July 9. “We are going to start with Flames actually tomorrow,” he said. “Then we will start with Summer Royals probably Friday [July 13]” and some green seedless grapes about a week later.

The start dates are about 10 or 11 days earlier than last year.

The company’s green grape program will start with Thompsons and Princess, followed by Autumn Kings for the late season.

“We will be in full swing” by Aug. 1, Mr. Olsen said. He expected the Flame harvest to continue through August, although “some acreage has been pulled out.”

Last year, “we had a good flame deal that ended up really strong the end of August,” he said. “We are hoping for the same this year.” The vines had good chilling hours during the past winter, which should help. “The vines look strong and vigorous” and the fruit looks strong.

By late August, the company expected to be shipping Autumn Royals and Red Globes. “Typically, we start Crimsons about the first week of September” or a few days earlier, along with Sweet Scarlet and Scarlet Royal, he said. “That is pretty much our whole line-up.”

The company’s growth this year will be principally in Flames and Scarlet Royals. In addition, “we have a few more Autumn Royals and a few more Crimsons as well” from new growers The Chuck Olsen Co. is representing this year.

As with many other shippers, the firm expects to pack some grapes in some of the new gusseted bags this year, Mr. Olsen said. “We have not packed any [yet], but we’ve got some on order” for this season so when customers want some, “we’ll be ready to go. It is a very nice bag,” but it is not cheap, he said. “So we want to watch ourselves on that and not overload our inventory.”