Southern California’s Oceanside Pole Tomato Sales Inc., one of the nation’s largest suppliers to retail of vine-ripe tomatoes, abruptly halted operations April 12.

Oceanside Pole Tomato Sales shuts down

“I’ll be closing down the company in the next few weeks,” said Bill Wilbur, president.

Among his tasks, he said, will be to notify retailers of the company’s closing.

The closing could make a dent in the upcoming season’s vine-ripe category.

Oceanside Pole, the marketing arm of Harry Singh & Sons, Oceanside, Calif., has in its larger volume years packed and marketed more than 5 million cartons of vine-ripe round and roma tomatoes, Wilbur said.

“I’m hopeful Harry Singh & Sons can come back and farm in 2012,” he said. “They just do a wonderful job with a great product.”

The closing will put out of work more than 85 Oceanside Pole and Harry Singh & Sons year round employees — including director of sales R.J. Deakins and salesman Dino Iacovimo — and will eliminate another 900 seasonal field and packinghouse positions, Wilbur said.

On the Oceanside Pole website, Krishna Singh, a spokesman for the family owned companies, is quoted, “Many of our foremen, equipment operators and truck drivers have been with us for over 20 years,” he said.

Telephone calls to Singh were not immediately returned.

Harry Singh & Sons has been a grower-shipper in San Diego County for 70 years and was one of nine members of the Fresno-based cooperative, California Tomato Farmers.

Members of the cooperative produce approximately 90% of the fresh tomatoes grown in the U.S., according to its website.