Delta Packing opens cold storage facility

Delta Packing Co. of Lodi Inc., Lodi, Calif., has a new, 24,000-square-foot cold storage facility ready to go this season, said Paul Poutre, general manager.

With the new facility, which includes four precool rooms and a 7,500-square-foot palletizing room, the company will be able to finish cherries, pull them out of the hydrocooler at 34 or 35 degrees and cool them to 32 degrees in a couple of hours, he said.

The process will help maintain the cold chain, get trucks in and out faster and extend shelf life, Poutre said.

The Flavor Tree Co. LLC markets new hybrid

The Flavor Tree Co. LLC, Hanford, Calif., marketing arm for Warmerdam Packing LLC, will have a new fruit hybrid available in select markets this year, said Maurice Cameron, president and global sales manager.

The new fruit, called the Verry Cherry Plum, is a cross between a cherry and a plum and should be available in truckload volume this year.

It was tested with five retailers “in a very small way” last year, Cameron said. The company now has additional acreage of the hybrid and will expand shipments in future seasons.

“It looks like a very small plum or a very big cherry,” Cameron said.

Morada Produce adds sizer/sorter

Morada Produce Co., Linden, Calif., is installing a 40-lane, Italian-made Unitech optical sizer and defect sorter on its packing line, said saleswoman Larelle Miller.

The device is equipped with cameras that rapidly scan every cherry and allow product to be sorted by size, color or even brix level, thanks to infrared capabilities that can determine the internal quality of the fruit.

The machine can recognize defects like flesh breakdown, cracks, bruises or insect stings and kick out soft fruit.

The equipment, which can process 20 tons of cherries per hour, should be installed by the first week of May.

The company also has purchased five clamshell fillers, three of which now are in use.

Miller, most recently with Rivermaid Trading Co., Lodi, Calif., joined Morada Produce in September.

Primavera to start up red cherry line

Primavera Marketing Inc., Stockton, Calif., should have its fourth red cherry line up and running by early May, said Rich Sambado, sales manager.

“That will give us four red cherry lines plus our rainier line that will allow us to handle and process more cherries on a daily basis,” he said.

Sambado said he expects Primavera to ship about 2 million boxes of cherries or more this season thanks to the expansion.

Stemilt Growers premieres blog

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC, which has a large California cherry program, has begun a blog called The Stem, where visitors can find fresh recipes, tips, information and farming facts about the company’s cherries and other fruit products, said Brianna Shales, communications manager and main author of The Stem.

Tate Mathison, Stemilt sales leader and fifth-generation grower, will write about farming aspects, and Lorie Hopcus, author of A Savory Nest food blog, will cover recipes and serving ideas.

Trinity Fruit Sales Co. hires salesman

Kendal Ankrum, most recently with Wawona Packing Co., Cutler, Calif., has joined the sales staff at Trinity Fruit Sales Co., Fresno, Calif., said salesman Oscar Ramirez. Ankrum is selling all of the company’s commodities, including cherries, tree fruit, pomegranates and mandarins.

Ramirez said he expects the company’s cherry crop to be up about 25% over last year’s because of favorable weather.

Valhalla Sales names regional sales chief

Gerry Scheidt, most recently with Gerawan Farming, Sanger, Calif., has joined Valhalla Sales & Marketing Co., Kingsburg, Calif., as regional sales manager, said owner David Stone. Sheidt will handle all commodities at Valhalla.

“He’s got a lot of product knowledge, a great customer base, and we’re pretty lucky to have him,” Stone said.

Stone expects the company’s cherry volume to be slightly larger than last year’s.