(Jan. 30, 1:35 p.m.) Dole Food Co. Inc., Westlake Village, Calif., is selling about 1,000 acres in Monterey County, Calif., as part of its asset sale initiative announced last year, said Dole spokesman Marty Ordman.

Ordman said Dole is not commenting on the details of the sale, which he said should be completed by the end of March.

The asset sale initiative will “help us pay down our debt and then concentrate on our core businesses,” Ordman said.

As part of the initiative, Dole has closed on the first phase of the sale of its flowers division and is retaining certain real estate in the division that will be sold at a later date, the company said in a statement Jan. 29.

Dole also announced in the statement it has closed on the sale of certain banana properties in Latin America, and will receive net cash proceeds of about $84 million from these three transactions, and $130 million when all phases of the transactions are completed.

In addition to debt payments on Dole’s senior secured credit facilities, the cash may be used to reinvest in the business and pay down Dole’s revolving credit facility, according to the company.

Fitch Ratings downgraded Dole Food Co.’s credit ratings in January due to the level of Dole’s debt, according to a statement from Fitch Ratings.