Paramount Citrus officials say a new packinghouse in Delano, Calif., will operate six days a week through April, with the capacity to fill 800,000 3-pound bags of mandarins every day.

Paramount Citrus opens new packinghouseDavid Krause, president of Los Angeles-based Paramount, announced plans for the new facility in 2010 at the annual Produce Marketing Association’s trade show. The company officially opened the facility Nov. 16. At more than 640,000 square feet, it’s equal to 11 football fields under one roof.

On top of the roof is a 2.7 megawatt solar plant that is expected to generate 15% of the power for the packinghouse. In a news release Krause said the solar power is augmented by a 1.6 megawatt fuel cell that produces combustion-free electricity from natural gas. It can provide 35% of the plant’s power needs.

When he announced plans for the new facility, Krause said it was needed because of the growing demand for easy-peel clementines.

“The size and scope of our new Cuties plant provides us with a great opportunity to effectively meet the consistently growing demand for our sweet, seedless, E-Z peel Cuties,” Krause said Nov. 19.

Paramount Citrus opens new packinghouseParamount and its partners shipped 60 million boxes of the citrus fruit last season, Krause said, with expectations to ship 90 million boxes this season.

Krause said Paramount has been planting new acres of its trademarked Cuties mandarins in recent years. Some of the acres matured for production this year, with more anticipated in the coming years to meet increasing consumption.

The packinghouse is expected to process 4,000 bins of fruit daily during the season. It includes cold storage rooms for up to 31 million pounds of fruit.

During peak season the plant is expected to run 20 hours a day, six days a week. According to the release, the plant will create up to 500 new jobs for the area.