(April 8) STOCKTON, Calif. — Sunniland Fruit Inc. has merged its operations into Farmington Fresh Sales LLC, Stockton, which has decided to become a major player in the cherry industry.

Michael Calavita, previously general manager of Sunniland Fruit, will head marketing and sales for Farmington Fresh Sales. Farmington Fresh Sales, a shipper of apples and pears, is a limited liability corporation owned by growers and packers.

With the merger in place, the goal is for Farmington Fresh Sales to ship 200,000 cartons of cherries this season, Calavita said. The exact amount depends on the weather, which has been good recently, he said.

Calavita said Sunniland Fruit will maintain a cold storage building, but it will no longer grow and pack the company’s three crops: cherries, grapes and apricots.

Field personnel for Sunniland Fruit have moved over to Farmington Fresh Sales, he said.

Farmington Fresh Sales plans to use its Blossom Farms label for cherries, but the Sunniland label also will be available for domestic shipments, Calavita said. The Mary Ellen, Sunniland and Golden Wings labels will be available for export, he said.

One of the motivating factors in the merger was a desire by Sunniland Fruit to further develop the California rainier cherry deal, Calavita said. Sunniland had become a major player in the rainier deal with its 1-pound clamshell program, he said.