(June 9) NASHVILLE, N.C. — Nash Produce Co. is improving its cantaloupe packing line and increasing its acreage this season.

The cucumber, sweet potato and cantaloupe grower-shipper also has updated its packing line by adding a dump tank.

FIELD BINNING

The packer also is converting to field binning of its melons. Cantaloupe will be picked and placed in plastic field bins instead of field trucks and dumped onto the packing line.

“We won’t have to touch them again this season,” said Keith Purvis, salesman. “It was more time-consuming last year getting them into the packing line.”

Nash Produce experimented with Price Look-Up stickers last season. This year, all cantaloupe will have the PLUs, Purvis said.

“We can’t go to Canada with the bins, but with PLUs, we can go anywhere,” he said.

Last season was the first year Nash Produce packed cantaloupe in 9- and 12-count 5- to 5¼-pound cartons. The firm introduced the packs midway into the season.

“The retailers are saying they want the big cantaloupe,” Purvis said.

Some, he said, are even wanting 6- and 7-count cantaloupe in cartons.

MORE CARTONS

Nash Produce plans to ship more of its cantaloupes in cartons, Purvis said, unless there are requests from customers.

“We don’t want to use bins this year,” he said. “I think the cartons will be more and more prevalent with the retailers.”

Cartons, Purvis said, can also control shrink better than bins.

SIX-COUNT PACK

Purvis said Nash Produce also is working on a larger six-count pack.

“Last year, with the little box we had, we couldn’t get six cantaloupe in,” Purvis said.

The improvements will allow Nash Produce to handle more business, he said.

This season will bring a good crop of cantaloupe, Purvis said. Nash Produce increased its acreage from 325 acres last season to 400 acres this season.

The improvements follow the addition of an automatic humidifier to the cantaloupe cooling room last season.