(Web Editor’s note: This article is updated, extended coverage of a story we initially posted on Aug. 7)

(Aug. 8, 11:41 a.m.) After more than four decades of marketing its own fruit, Cal Citrus Packing Co. Inc., Lindsay, Calif., is becoming a member of the grower-owned cooperative, Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif.

“We think Sunkist is the very best thing for our growers,” said Roy Bell, general manager of Cal Citrus. “Sunkist’s current organization and configuration are really the best benefits to growers available today.”

Cal Citrus grows and packs 2,000 acres of navels, valencias and lemons, Bell said. In recent years, the company sold about 2,000 acres of valencias and lemons, he said.

In addition to the Sunkist label, Cal Citrus will continue to pack under the Portokali, Seabiscuit, Sugar Test, Jungle Cat, Golden Boy and My Goodness labels. The company’s volumes for the 2008-09 citrus season are expected to be 1.1 million cartons of navels, 40,000 cartons of lemons and 125,000 cartons of valencias, Bell said.

“The affiliation (with Cal Citrus) brings to our system a large supply of quality citrus and a philosophy of excellence that matches our own," said Russ Hanlin, Sunkist’s incoming president and chief executive officer, in a news release.

Marketing operations at Cal Citrus will be terminated at the end of the valencia season.

“We will be dismantling a 40-year long association with buyers and employees,” Bell said. “The closing of the marketing office will mean two key people will be laid off.”

One of the employees who will be leaving Cal Citrus is long-time sales manager Fred Van Zandt.

Sunkist has been seeking new San Joaquin Valley members since Paramount Citrus Association, Delano, Calif., left the cooperative in 2006 and formed its own marketing department. Paramount’s annual volume has been reported to be more than 10 million cartons of citrus varieties.