(Aug. 18) A new grower-shipper is marketing a California first this month — the state’s first commercial crop of organic mangoes, said Howard Marguleas, owner of Ag-Accounting Inc., Incline Village, Nev.

The company has nearly 48,000 keitt mango trees on 260 acres in the Coachella Valley, Marguleas said. The fruit will carry the Desert Cove label and will be marketed by the Corona-College Heights Orange & Lemon Association, he said.

John Demshki, president of the association, said the Ag-Accounting crop is excellent. Because California-grown mangoes need not be hot water treated like imported fruit, Ag-Accounting is able to leave the mangoes on the trees longer. Demshki said the result is a larger, sweeter mango.

Ted Johnson, chief operating officer for Ag-Accounting, said the company received its organic certification Aug. 14. Picking was scheduled to begin Aug. 21 and was expected to continue through September, Johnson said.

He said the company expects to harvest 150,000 9-pound boxes this season. In five years, Johnson said the volume should reach 1.2 million boxes.

Demshki said the organic certification makes Ag-Accounting California’s only commercial organic mango grower.

Johnson said the company chose the keitt variety because of its sweetness and its lack of fibers, or threads, found in most other varieties. The keitt mango is light green on the outside with orange flesh and a small seed, he said.

The Ag-Accounting mango trees range in age from one year to 18 years, Marguleas said. However, he said a tree must be at least five years old to produce a commercial crop. The high capital investment for land and planting and the long wait for a crop are major reasons why there are so few commercial mango growers in California, he said.