Bee Sweet Citrus expands storage

Bee Sweet Citrus Inc., Fowler, Calif., recently completed a cold-storage expansion and expects to finish another this year, said James Sherwood, vice president.

“We just finished a new cold-storage facility that was 22,045 square feet in the summer, and the other one will be 22,050 square feet,” he said.

The first opened last summer. The second should finish by June 1, Sherwood said.

Booth Ranches markets fruit from two growers

Orange Cove, Calif.-based Booth Ranches LLC is breaking from tradition by selling fruit it has not grown itself, said Neil Galone, vice president of sales.

The navel and valencia orange grower-shipper, under the ownership of Loren Booth, is working with two growers to ship 15-20 loads of w. murcott mandarins each week from January through March.

The fruit is being packed by Reedley, Calif.-based stone fruit grower-shipper Enns Packing Co. Inc.

“The only thing we’ve packed and sold was fruit we grew ourselves, but we’ve had demand from customers to try to expand our product line,” Galone said.

“What they’re saying is it would be nice if we had some other items.”

The move is part of the company’s evolution as a marketer, Galone said.

Johnston Farms ramps up mandarins

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Johnston Farms is accelerating its satsuma mandarin program, said Dennis Johnston, partner in the grower-shipper.

“We have other varieties of mandarins we’re actually producing in February and March, where, before, we didn’t have anything other than the satsuma,” he said.

“The Tahoe gold is a new variety that’s starting to catch on. The w. murcott is a new late-season variety, but we’re using some of those as stem-and-leaf and that’s working very well. That’s been our main growth is in the mandarin business.”

The company’s production is trending upward, Johnston said.

“I’d say we typically produce about 300,000 packages, and this year we’ll produce about 350,000 of mandarins. We’re a fairly small shipper, so for us to go up 50,000 cartons a year, that’s something.”

LoBue Citrus adds equipment, storage

Lindsay, Calif.-based citrus grower-shipper LoBue Citrus has been in expansion mode, said Tom Wollenman, general manager.

“We built a new cold storage and are revamping part of our line and adding bagging equipment,” Wollenman said.

“We are very blessed in this company. A large part of our acres here are very old navel washingtons that were planted in the ’20s and ’30s. They really have high brix and hold on the trees well. There are very few geographic areas that raise this kind of fruit, so we’ve pushed that concept in our Asian market and in some of our domestic markets. That’s one thing that differentiates us. We also go out of our way to service our accounts. If somebody can’t do it, we’ll step up and do it.”

The new cold-storage facility opened at the end of the summer, Wollenman said.

“We added enough for 35 or 40 carloads,” adding that the new facility represented about a 30% expansion.

Paramount Citrus grows Mexico production

Paramount Citrus Association Inc., Delano, Calif., plans to expand production capacity in Mexico, said David Krause, president.

The company is growing at home, too, Krause said.

“Our second big initiative here is bringing online the new clementine packing facility here in Delano,” he said.

“That will open in October 2012. In the Cutie program, as our total acreage continues to grow and more comes into production, we have need for more packing facility, so the next facility is a Paramount-owned facility in Delano.”

The new facility will be 625,000 square feet, Krause said.

Rio Queen hires saleswoman

Grapefruit grower-shipper Rio Queen Inc., Mission, Texas, has hired Amanda Garcia to handle electronic and Web-based sales, said Mike Martin, president.

“She had been at London Fruit (in nearby Pharr, Texas) for several years and was out of produce for almost a year,” Martin said.

“She has been hired as sales in training with computers, where our business is in I-Trade and e-mail. There’s more of that, so we need somebody who has that savvy.”

Garcia started her new position in August. She had been with London Fruit for two or three years, according to Martin.

South Tex Organics upgrades equipment

Mission, Texas-based organic citrus grower-shipper South Tex Organics LC is operating with an auto-line system it recently installed in its packing shed for the current season, said Dennis Holbrook, president.

The company installed the system, in part, to enhance its food safety system, Holbrook said.

Sunkist Growers focuses on new varieties

Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc. is focusing on some new varieties this year, said Claire Smith, spokeswoman for the grower-shipper.

“Sunkist Pixies and Sunkist Gold Nuggets are two newer varieties of mandarins which are rapidly gaining popularity,” Smith said.

“They are very sweet and very juicy, peel easily and are seedless. The exterior has a characteristically pebbly texture. These varieties are claiming a growing niche in the citrus category and distribution is increasing in both domestic and export markets.”

The short-season items are on the market from March through May or, sometimes, into mid-June, Smith said.

“Newer varieties of lemons such as seedless and meyer lemons are also quickly gaining popularity,” she said.