Archive For The “News” Category

Florida Grapefruit Companies Announce Major Tree Plantings

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Peace River Citrus Products and Scott Family Cos. and its partners plan to invest more than $25 million in planting a quarter million grapefruit trees in Florida, where citrus greening disease has caused production to plummet in recent years.

The trees will be planted on 1,500 acres in St. Lucie and River Counties, according to a news release.

This will be the first major planting of grapefruit since citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), has decreased acreage in Florida, according to the release.

The two companies are looking to raise the Florida grapefruit crop by 15% once the groves mature, Andy Taylor, senior vice president and CFO of Peace River Citrus Products, said in the release.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joined representatives of Peace River and Scott Family Cos. and it partners in celebrating the return of grapefruit groves.

“Since January, we’ve been dedicating resources and improving policies to make sure Florida’s citrus industry gets back on its feet, and today, we’ve surpassed the 50% milestone for this important funding,” DeSantis said in the release.

Through a partnership with Peace River, The Coca-Cola Co. is participating in the effort with an agreement to purchase processed grapefruit juice from fruit in the orchard, according to the release.

Japan-based Takasago International Corp. is also investing $1.5 million toward new tree plantings to ensure a sustainable grapefruit industry in Florida, according to the release.

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Stone Fruit Shippers Gerawan and Wawona Merge

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Gerawan Farming Inc. of Sanger, CA and Wawona Packing Co. LLC of Cutler, CA have completed a merger. Paine Schwartz, an existing investor in Wawona and a global leader in sustainable food chain investing, is partnering with both companies to facilitate the transaction. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Both Gerawan and Wawona are third-generation family businesses. Gerawan is a stone fruit industry pioneer with best-in-class farming, packing practices, and proprietary varieties marketed under the Prima brand. Wawona is a California-based supplier of high-quality stone fruit and a leader in the organic segment of the market. The merger builds upon the legacies and reputations of the two industry-leading companies and creates an enhanced platform for growth and innovation. The combined business will be able to better serve its customers and create significant opportunities for employees.

The combined company will be led by Dan Gerawan, who will be the largest individual shareholder and chief executive officer of the merged entity.  Brent Smittcamp, current executive chairman of Wawona, will also remain a significant shareholder and continue to be highly involved with the combined company.  The management team will be comprised of leaders from both companies.

Gerawan said, “At Gerawan, innovating on a large scale to grow, pack and ship the world’s best fruit has been key to our success, and those efforts have always hinged on investing in our employees.”

Smittcamp said, “Over the last several years, we have focused on accelerating Wawona’s growth by building on the inherent strengths of our business and management team. Our acquisition last year of Burchell Nursery Inc. was one example, and now this historic merger with Gerawan takes it to yet another level.” 

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Production Breaks Records in Fresno County for 2018

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A record $7.89 billion in Fresno County agriculture production was hit in 2018, a 12 percent increase over 2017, with almonds, grapes and pistachios leading the list. The information is included in an annual report from the county’s ag commissioner.

The previous record was in 2014, when crop values totaled $7.07 billion. The numbers reflect commodities for fresh and processing markets, and include row crops, dairy, livestock and other production.

Overall, the county’s fruit and nut crops were worth $4.36 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2017, topping the $4 billion mark for just the second time. Vegetable production values rose a whopping 54 percent, to $1.52 billion, about 19.3 percent of the county’s overall ag production.

The numbers don’t represent net income or losses to the producers, Fresno County Agriculture Commission Melissa Cregan wrote in the annual report.

“Crop values vary from year to year based on production, market fluctuations and weather,” she said in the report. “It is important to note the figures provided in this report reflect gross values and do not take into account the costs of production, marketing, transportation, or other ancillary costs.”

The top crops by value in Fresno County in 2018 (and 2017 rank) were:

  1. Almonds, $1.178 billion (1)
  2. Grapes (including fresh, wine, juice and raisin), $1.107 billion (2)
  3. Pistachios, $862.144 million (4)
  4. Poultry, $596.477 million (3)
  5. Garlic $435.340 million (12)
  6. Milk, $415.812 million (5)
  7. Onions, $370.384 m)
  8. Mandarins, $234.969 (6)

Fruits and nuts

Nuts are an important crop in Fresno County. Almonds have surpassed the billion-dollar mark for five years and accounted for 15% of the entire agriculture production in the county in 2018. Pistachios, which moved up a slot, saw a record crop value, according to the report.

While total grape crop values topped $1 billion, the table grape crop was valued at $409.82 million, up from $359.27 million in 2017. Per-ton prices for table grape varieties dropped, but the segment was buoyed by increased yields and more acres being harvested, according to the report.

Oranges dropped from the top 10 for the first time since 2014, although the total value rose $8.81 million to $212.13 million.

Mandarins’ dramatic drop from 2017 shows a value decrease of more than 46%, with a $197.68 million plummet in crop value — despite an increase of about 1,000 harvested acres. 


Two years of lower vegetable crop values were wiped away with a 54% increase, to $1.52 billion, according to the release.

A 34% decrease in the crop value of “standard tomatoes” was caused by price drops from the market being “flooded with foreign imports,” according to Fresno County’s vegetable analysis.

Increased yields and price-per-ton paid for garlic boosted the crop value from 12 in 2017 to 5 in 2018. :yye

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TerraFresh Organics Announces Rollout of Citrus, Mangoes in U.S.

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MILL VALLEY, CA –  TerraFresh Organics (TFO), a new organic fruit company with a focus on supplying organic citrus, mangoes, stone fruit and grapes to North America, announces the first rollout of organic citrus and mangoes under the Earth Greens Organic label.

TerraFresh Organics has a strong supply of citrus sourcing fruit from growing partners in California, Mexico and Peru. The organic citrus line will include Earlies/Valencia oranges, Navel oranges, lemons and grapefruit. TerraFresh’s capabilities include providing customers with a year-round supply of organic citrus.

TerraFresh’s mangoes will be sourced from Ecuador, Peru and Mexico to complete a near year-round program as its principles have done for over 20 years.

“In only a few weeks, we’ll be providing customers with fresh, organic citrus from Mexico to add to our current supply of mangoes from the finest growing regions,” said Greg Holzman, co-founder and managing partner of TerraFresh Organics. “We’ve built strong relationships with our growers in Latin America and the U.S. and are confident in the excellent organic produce they provide.”

TerraFresh sought out growers in Latin America and the U.S. who are committed to organic fruit, sustainable practices and quality produce. With state-of-the-art packing and loading operations located in Central and Southern California, Nogales, AZ, McAllen, TX and Toughkenamon, PA, TerraFresh Organics ensures reliable supply and services logistic across the U.S.

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Washington Fruit & Produce Rebuilds from Devastating Fire

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A devastating fire at Mount Adams Fruit of Bingen, WA has led to a new and improved operation for the company.

On Oct. 18, 2017, a fire burned two of Mount Adams Fruit’s pear packing lines, packed fruit storage and shipping facility, as well as its business offices. The operation packs all of the pears of Washington Fruit and Produce Co. of Yakima, WA.

A larger line consists of a 20-lane sizer capable of processing 500 bins of fruit per shift; a smaller line has 10 lanes and can run 250 bins per shift, allowing the company to adapt as volumes fluctuate.

An automated storage and retrieval system enhances the improvements.

Fruit will be delivered from the receiving dock to dump tanks via robot, then scanned, sorted, and sized by optical sorter. Once packed, robots will deliver boxes of pears to the cold storage rooms and place the product on an intricate racking system.

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Hunts Point: It Takes a lot of Trucks and Produce to Feed 20 Million People

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By Produce Business

Stretched out onto 113 acres, the Hunts Point Cooperative Market is the largest food terminal market of its kind in the world – that doesn’t sell flowers. It is estimated the Hunts Point Market employs more than 10,000 people directly and indirectly, supplying 23,000 restaurateurs and providing 60 percent of the produce that feeds the area’s 23 million people.

Hunts Point opened in 1967 with more than 130 produce companies. Ten of those original wholesalers who were on The Washington Street Market moved to The Hunts Point Market: Nathel & Nathel (then Wishnatzki & Nathel), S. Katzman Produce, E. Armata, D’Arrigo, Joseph Fierman & Son, Rubin Bros., Kleinman & Hochberg (now LBD), Robt. T. Cochran, A.J. Trucco and M&R Tomato. These firms have expanded and grown in the past 52 years. Today, after tremendous consolidation, there are 32 firms in total.

How do you feed 20.3 million people? It sounds like a mind-boggling feat, but it’s what the farmers, suppliers, produce wholesalers, distributors, retailers and shippers that work in the New York Metro area do every day. According to the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) of the U.S. Census Bureau, 20,320,876 people live in the area defined as the New York, Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metropolitan statistical area (MSA). In New York City alone, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the number of people at 8,398,748 as of July 2018.

When Nathel & Nathel opened at Hunts Point, the company was called Wishnatzki & Nathel. The name change came in 1997, when brothers Ira and Sheldon, the company’s third generation, took over. It was their grandfather who started his business with a pushcart in 1922 in Brooklyn. Today, with tremendous consolidation, Nathel & Nathel is among the largest companies at Hunts Point with an average of 100 trucks delivering produce every day.

“Nothing compares to Hunts Point,” says Steve Kaplan, whose company, Florida Produce Brokers, Inc. in Stuart, FL, provides mostly corn and leafy greens to the New York area. “It is in class by itself. Nothing is larger and nothing compares to the scope of what goes on there all the time. It’s the largest wholesale market in the world.”


In the produce trade, transportation issues can arrive at a moment’s notice and attention must be given immediately.

“In our business there are so many factors affecting transportation and it has such a big effect on us,” says Stefanie Katzman, executive manager, S. Katzman Produce. “We try to mitigate it as much as we can by sourcing from multiple locations and trying to maintain an on-hand inventory, but there is only so much that can be done. Logistics is one of the most challenging parts of our industry because so much is out of our control, and everything that affects timing just trickles right down the line. There can be product delays at loading, hold-ups at previous stops, traffic, equipment issues, and about a hundred other things that affect the transporting of products from farm to table.”

Why would a wholesaler choose to hire a truck – which means dealing with the driving limits of the electronic logging device (ELD) – instead of a train? The ELD records the number of hours the driver has been driving, ensuring that the driver gets enough rest and is safer on the roads. Still, pulling off for a few hours to rest means unproductive time for perishable items.

“There is actually a lot of traffic on the railways,” says Evan Kazan, director of business development for Target Interstate. Located at Hunts Point Market, Target specializes in transporting produce. Since there are a lot of railcars on each train it takes longer to get them loaded and unloaded.

Instead of a one-day transfer, it can become two to three days. A trip that used to take six to seven days, now it is taking as long as nine days. At that point, especially when you’re dealing with produce, you’re better off going with trucks, says Kazan.

Since last year, capacity and freight rates have gone down. That means, produce wholesalers don’t have the same issues as in 2018. “Now the price difference is not as big of a difference. You are not looking at thousands of dollars, you’re looking at hundreds. For $500, I may decide it is worth it to get me my load to its destination three days earlier even if I am paying a little more. When the freight rates made the difference in price $2,000, wholesalers were faced with a potentially expensive dilemma. 

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A Salute to the Patriots Who Have Served our Country

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A big thank you to those who are serving and have served our nation to defend our freedom and way of life! And to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I salute you.

I recently visited the National Cemetery in Ft. Gibson, OK paying respects to those who have served our country, including my cousin Martin L. Johnson and his wife Irene Johnson. Irene passed away earlier this year and was such a wonderful person, who served in the Marines where she met my cousin.

As for Martin L. he served combat duty in 3 wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They met in Honolulu and 2 weeks later were married. The marriage lasted 64 years until his passing in 2015 and they were as devoted to each other as any couple I have ever known.

My God Bless our veterans and this great nation on this Veteran’s Day.

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Potatoes Cited as Americans Favorite Comfort Food in Survey

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The Little Potato Co. commissioned a survey that has found 55 percent of Americans rank potatoes as their favorite comfort food. ‘

Spuds outranked pizza (21 percent), macaroni and cheese (15 percent) and pasta (9 percent), according to a news release.

Another finding from the survey was one in four millennials would give up cheeseburgers if forced to choose between them and potatoes.

Favorite ways to eat potatoes include mashed (30 percent), as French fries (23 percent) and baked (22 percent), per the release. Among younger generations, the preference is French fries (32 ;percent), while older generations listed mashed potatoes as their favorite (35 percent).

The survey, which polled more than 1,000 people, found that nearly half of Americans eat potatoes a few times a week, with dinner as the most popular occasion (67 percent). The popularity of potatoes expands every holiday season, when more people (75 ;percent) eat potatoes than any other time of year.

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For Jack o’ Lanterns, White is the New Orange

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DURHAM, N.H. – Pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween. At the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire, researchers have ensured that pumpkin lovers have plenty of variety to choose from, including the popular white pumpkins, when decorating for this spookiest holiday of the year.

For more than 80 years, UNH has made a substantial contribution to Halloween and autumn because of its breeding of new and often unique varieties of pumpkins. Currently under the direction of Brent Loy, professor emeritus and researcher with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, of the 150 or so pumpkin varieties available from Northeast seed companies, more than 30 hybrid pumpkin varieties contain either one or two parental lines from UNH pumpkin breeding.

Loy’s experiment station-funded work, which has largely taken place at the experiment station’s Kingman Research Farm, Woodman Horticultural Research Farm and Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, has resulted in more than 80 new varieties of cucurbits — squash, pumpkins, gourds, and melons — sold in seed catalogs throughout the world. Along with cucurbit breeding introduced by the late Dr. Yeager in 1940, this breeding research represents the longest continuous squash and pumpkin breeding program in North America.

According to UNHInnovation, UNH has executed more than 50 exclusive licenses for inbreds and hybrids developed by Brent. Throughout his career at UNH, more than 200 hybrids and inbreds have been licensed or utilized in trial and germplasm agreements. Royalties generated by this portfolio continue to increase each year, including an expected 10 percent increase from last year. Royalties have generated more than $2 million for the university since commercialization began of these varieties.

Recently, UNH has concentrated on developing different sizes of white pumpkins, and pumpkins with unique pigmentation such as yellow and tan. Moonshine was the first white pumpkin released from UNH, a medium-size pumpkin with a dark handle. Other white pumpkins containing a UNH breeding line are Blanco and Snowball, developed respectively by Seneca Vegetable Research and Hybrid Seed of New Zealand. Six additional white hybrid varieties, representing different size classes, have been released to Northeast seed companies for production and sale. All new hybrids have intermediate resistance to powdery mildew disease.

In the yellow class of pumpkin, UNH has developed Owl’s Eye, marketed by High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Sunlight and Mellow Yellow, both produced by Hybrid Seed. “Sunlight is one of my favorites because of its high productivity, good tolerance to powdery mildew, and attractiveness for sales when marketed with white pumpkins. It is excellent for face painting,” Loy said. 

“In the standard orange class of pumpkin, there are a lot of varieties from which to choose, but the key is finding pumpkin varieties that have consistently good handles,” Loy said, explaining that the handles of many varieties fall down in this category, especially when growing conditions are challenging.

Secretariat, a relatively new variety containing UNH breeding, has a very robust stem and an appealing, slightly flattened shape. And an older variety, Racer, which has a UNH inbred line, still is popular the 15 to 20-pound class, despite lacking resistance to powdery mildew. 

This year saw two new UNH-developed varieties, Carbonado Gold (Rupp Seeds) and Renegade (Johnny’s Selected Seeds), hit the market. “Both look like real winners for the 15 to 20-pound pumpkin class. These two have nice ribbing, outstanding color, and most importantly, handles that resist shrinkage and breakage after harvest. Renegade has a slightly more robust handle than Carbonado Gold; whereas, the latter variety has earlier maturity,” Loy said.

Two years ago, Rupp Seeds introduced Bisbee Gold, another variety containing a UNH breeding line. In the 8 to 10-pound class, this pumpkin is an excellent size for younger children to carve. This variety also has superb color, a very robust handle, and is extremely productive. With the exception of Racer, all the above-mentioned varieties have intermediate resistance to powdery mildew.  

“There does not seem to be an end to the new stream of varieties entering the market,” Loy said.

Founded in 1887, the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture is UNH’s original research center and an elemental component of New Hampshire’s land-grant university heritage and mission. We steward federal and state funding, including support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to provide unbiased and objective research concerning diverse aspects of sustainable agriculture and foods, aquaculture, forest management, and related wildlife, natural resources and rural community topics. We maintain the Woodman and Kingman agronomy and horticultural research farms, the Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, and the Organic Dairy Research Farm. Additional properties also provide forage, forests and woodlands in direct support to research, teaching, and outreach.

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.

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South Texas Avocado Import Facility is Opened by La Bonanza

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An import and distribution facility in Mission, Texas has been opened by La Bonanza of Uruapan, Mexico, for avocados and guacamole products.

The La Bonanza, Mission, TX facility has 15,000 square feet, with 10 loading doors, 8 of them refrigerated for receiving and shipping, according to a news release. The facility can process more than 1,100 tons of product a day.

La Bonanza has packed and shipped avocados to the U.S. and Canada for 25 years, Gabriel Villasenor, president, said in the release.
“In that time, we have also added hundreds of our own hectares with plans to add more each year,” Villasenor said. “We own and maintain a fleet of 30 semis to deliver to the border and gas stations to guarantee fuel.”

The company also has a stake in a processing plant in Uruapan to offer guacamole products.

More than 90 percent of La Bonanza avocados are shipped to the U.S., Maggie Bezart-Hall, of La Bonanza’s sales and marketing, said in the release.

“The future of market growth and better supply to the U.S. and Canada is through direct sourcing of fresh and processed avocados from Mexico,” Bezart-Hall said in the release. “I joined La Bonanza because they are truly an integrated company that can offer high quality avocados from their own land and generations of partnerships with trusted family growers.”

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