Posts Tagged “stone fruit”

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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California Stone Fruit Shipments are Declining

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Traditional stone fruit varieties ranging from peaches to plums and nectarines have been on a steady decline in California over the past 20 years.

The USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture provides an interesting comparison on the acreage of major produce crops compared with 2012, 2007 and 2002.

On the bright side, the census reports California plum apricot hybrid acreage has grown from 3,240 in 2012 to 4,583 acres in 2017.

Here are some of the big fruit crop acreage changes since the last census.

  • Nectarines: 2017 acres were 17,618 acres, down from 19,555 acres from 2012 and 28,431 in 2007 and 42,532 acres in 2002;
  • Peaches: 2017 acres were 24,004 acres, down from 26,082 acres in 2012, 35,499 acres in 2007 and 42,302 acres in 2002; and
  • Plums and prunes: 2017 acres 64,702 acres, down from 82,910 acres in 2012 and 102,860 acres in 2007, and 141,494 acres in 2002.
  • Apples: 2017 acres were 13,637 acres, down from 18,205 acres in 2012, 22,184 acres in 2007 and 38,268 acres in 2002;
  • Avocados: 2017 acres were 57,192 acres, down from 59,814 acres in 2012, 74,767 in 2007 and 67,553 in 2002;
  • Sweet cherries: 2017 acres were 36,853 acres, down from 37,944 acres in 2012 but up from 30,433 acres in 2007 and 26,440 acres in 2002;
  • Dates: 2017 acres were 11,423 acres, up from 7,257 acres in 2012 and 6,315 acres in 2007 and 6,187 acres in 2002;
  • Grapes: 2017 acres were 935,272 acres, down from 940,178 acres in 2012 and 868,330 acres in 2007 and 890,896 aces in 2002;


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Washington State Stone Fruit Season Entering A ‘Banner Year’

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IMG_6046By Washington State Fruit Commission

YAKIMA, Wash. — Stone fruit from Washington state, including juicy peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and prunes are now available on store shelves nationwide while the season lasts, approximately through mid-September.  Thanks to the early summer weather in Washington, stone fruit farmers are anticipating a slightly larger crop with some of the sweetest, juiciest fruits yet. The outstanding quality of another popular stone fruit grown in the region, sweet cherries, has already been helping growers sell the quickest and second-largest cherry crop on record.

Washington stone fruit  orchards are prized for their sweetness and flavor balance due to the region’s unique microclimates and ancient volcanic soils that make for ideal growing conditions. The 2014 crop is expected to be one of the best to date, as the lengthening days of early summer weather stayed within the perfect temperature ranges for growth. As with wine grapes, these long warm days followed by cooler nights typically leads to more distinctly flavorful and juicy fruit.

“When stone fruit hangs for a long period of time on the branch, it allows the fruit to build up its natural sugar content which makes them that much tastier,” said James Michael, the vice president of marketing – North America for the Washington State Fruit Commission. “We expect it to be a banner year with an exceptionally flavorful crop!”

In addition to their delicious taste, peaches in particular are also grabbing the spotlight for their noted health benefits. A recent study by researchers at Washington State University (then at Texas A&M) and published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, shows that the compounds found in peaches could supplement therapies that reduce the risk of metastasis in breast and other types of cancer. The study shows compounds in peaches may inhibit growth of cancer cells and their ability to spread.

While the Washington stone fruit season only lasts a few short weeks, consumers can enjoy the taste and health benefits year round through canning and preserving. The website, created by the Washington State Fruit Commission, is a go-to resource for canning and freezing fruit, including everything from how-to tips, traditional and modern canning recipes, craft ideas and downloadable jar labels to customize at home.

For more information on Washington state stone fruit, seasonal recipes, health information and more, visit

About Northwest Cherries and Washington State Fruit Commission

Washington State Fruit Commission is a growers’ organization funded by fruit assessments to increase awareness and consumption of regional stone fruits. The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of soft fruits from Northwest orchards. It began in 1947 and has since grown to include five states – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana. For more information, visit or

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“Woot Fruit” is Introduced to USA Supermarkets

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WootFruitPeachFor years, health-conscious consumers have enjoyed snacking on pre-cut, pre-packaged, and in portion-controlled fresh fruits and veggies from their local market. Up until now, stonefruits like peaches and nectarines have been absent from the value-added category because of difficulties associated with processing and packaging.

But that’s about to change.  On August 5th  Fresh Fruit Cuts,  launched Woot Froot, a line of expertly selected and artfully processed fresh peaches and nectarines that will be available through October.

“Woot Froot pairs the great taste of fresh nectarines and peaches – one of America’s top-ten fruits – with the ease and convenience of fresh cut and the added benefit of consistent quality and flavor,” said Kim Gaarde of Fresh Fruit Cuts. Gaarde also the research and developer of this new product worked diligently through her company Fruit Dynamics over an 7-year time frame to develop the proprietary process for selecting, processing and packaging the fresh cut peaches and nectarines. Gaarde also says the products will deliver a 15-day shelf life.

After seven years of research and development – and a few relentless doubters – Gaarde said she is proud to be a part of the team that is building new value for stonefruit growers and enhancing consumers’ access to value added stonefruit that is both healthy and convenient.

Gaarde also noted that only certain varieties of peaches and nectarines will make the Woot Froot cut. The company tested more than 500 varieties before finding the select few that provide the desired taste and texture worthy of a Woot Froot label. Retail consumer packs are available in 3 oz and 18 oz trays and bulk packages are available for foodservice.

“Three out of five consumers prefer to purchase ripe fruit,” Gaarde said, “but two out of five don’t know how to go about it. Woot Froot takes the guesswork out of purchasing stonefruit, a category that is loved by Americans, but has been relatively flat for the past several years.  We aim to change that and add a little excitement.”

Fresh Cut Fruits will make Woot Froot available through October this year and is preparing for  year-round availability in 2014 and beyond.


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California Produce Loads Continue to Crank Up

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IMG_5643California’s Santa Maria district currently leads the state in strawberry volume with nearly 800 truck loads being shipped a week, but the Watsonville district will be catching up – and surpassing  Santa Maria very soon.  Meanwhile, Salinas Valley vegetables are continuing to increase is volume led by lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.   The San Joaquin Valley in cranking up with everything from stone fruit to vegetables.

The Imperial and Coachella valleys are shipping melons and mixed veggies, plus Coachella table grapes are now being shipped in volume.

Some produce loads, particularly from more northern Calilforna shipping areas, are already exceeding a rate of $9,000 to the East Coast.

Mexican tomatoes are being shipped in volume from Baja peninsula via distribution centers around San Diego.  Product ranges from romas to grape, cherry and vine ripe tomatoes.

Looking ahead, warm April temperatures have pushed the California pear crop about 10 days ahead of last year.  Early variety pears from the Sacramento River district should get underway around July 2-3, followed by bartletts about July 5.

The projected California almond crop is expected to reach 2 billion pounds this year.  This would fall short only to 2011’s 2.03 billion pound crop and is 6% higher than 2012’s output, which was about 1.89 billion pounds.   Almonds are the state’s largest agricultural export, with California alone producing 80 percent of the world’s supply.

California almond shipments come from over 810,000 acres.

Salinas vegetables – grossing about $9000 to Boston.

San Joaquin Valley stone fruit – about $6,000 to Chicago.

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In-Transit Issues – Part V: How Safe are Modified Atmosphere Shipments?

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TF_Chart1_v2While studies have shown transporting strawberries and some other produce items in a modified atmosphere  extends the quality and lifespan of the items, how safe are these food items to eat that have been exposed to carbon dioxide (CO2) for nearly a week?

Rich Macleod, a scientist and basically the manager of the pallet divison for Transfresh Corp. feels this is a reasonable question for people to ask.

“The use of carbon dioxide in the handling of perishables is incredibally common,” Macleod states.  He points to the use of CO2 in soda, which are the bubbles you see.

As for TransFresh, Macleod says  the Organic Material Research Institute has certified the Tectrol application as organic.  “So we are certified for use as an organic product,” he states.  “The impact of CO2 in terms of maintaining the quality of the product….using a gas we breath in the environment, is an excellent trade off for what you get for enjoying more strawberries.”

As previously reported in this series, using the pallet covered system, Tectrol (CO2), results in less decay in strawberries (see chart). 

Macleod, who started out as a lab assistant with a masters degree in post harvest science, sees the next step in research being to define what CO2 does for the nutrient value of strawberries.  Such a study has never been done, he notes.  He is hopeful such research will take place within the next five years.

While Tectrol’s primary use is with strawberries, it also is used with raspberries, blueberries and other items.

However, it also is found in containers on shipments by boat with items such as avocados, asparagus, and stone fruit for both imports and exports that are in transit eight to 10 days.

“Your cut salads are all cousins to the wrapped pallet program (with modified atmospheres).  In fact, the cut salad program preceeded the pallet covered program,” Macleod says.

(This is Part 5 0f 6, featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.  He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)





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Western Produce Shipments are Gearing Up; Rates Soar

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Grower/shippers in California’s San Joaquin Valley report good shipments of quality California stone fruit in the last half of May and it should pick up even more with the month of June.



Yellow and white peaches, as well as yellow and white nectarines have been moving for the past month.

Peak stone fruit shipments will be occurring the last half of June and July, with about average shipments seen for the season.

PEARS – California pear shipments will start the earlier than at least the past couple of years.  Loadings are expected to get underway around July 9th.

Washington state

Northwest cherry shippers, for the first time in six years, expect good volume shipments for cherries in June.   The first shipments of cherries in the state could start from June 1 through June 3.

Barring some bad weather (which would probably be rain),  full bore cherry shipments should be occurring in time  for the Fourth of the July for the first time since 2007.

The record shipments of 23 million 20-pound boxes of Northwest cherries last year was a 23% increase over the 2011 crop.

The Northwest will likely harvest a cherry crop in the 18 million to 20 million carton range in 2013.

San Joaquin Valley stone fruit – grossing about $8,800 to Boston.

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Produce Hauling from the Salinas Valley, San Joaquin Valley

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Between now and August produce truckers will have the upper hand when it comes to freight rates – assuming you don’t have contract rates (but that’s another story).

Not only are we nearing the peak shipping season from California, which accounts for about half of the nation’s fresh produce, but other areas, particularly in the upper mid-west and east are providing competition for trucks.

Caution Hauling Desert Items

Before I get into the Salinas and San Joaquin Valley shipments, use caution loading desert vegetables such as bell peppers and corn as temperatures well above 100 degrees have been occurring.  It’s been really hot in the Coachella and Imperial valleys, as well as Arizona’s Yuma district.  Little or no report of heat damage has yet been reported but keep your eyes peeled for scalding and other heat symptoms in the days ahead.  Even watermelons can suffer if prolonged heat occurs.

Salinas Valley

Dozens of different kinds of vegetables are being shipped from the Salinas area.  But the big volume items are various types of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower.  There also is decent volume with brussel sprouts and celery.  Nearby Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world, while nearby Watsonville is ground zero for strawberry shipments.

San Joaquin Valley

This report will focus primarily on summer from from the SJV.  We’ll soon cover the many vegetables coming into volume.

Stone fruit, led by peaches, plums and nectarines, are just getting underway from the southern part of the valley.

The consensus appear to be that around 40 to 43 million boxes of stone fruit will be shipped this year from the San Joaquin Valley, which would be pretty average when looking at the volume for the past five years.

California cherry shipments are building and hitting good volume just prior to the Memorial weekend (May 25-27).  However, winds damaged 40 to 50% of the early variety Rainier cherries around Bakersfield on May 5th.

There also was some wind damage to almond trees in the Bakersfield area.

Last year, California shipped a record 101.5 milion boxes of grapes.  The Coachella Valley, which is shipping now, accounts for 10 percent or less of this volume.  The rest comes from the San Joaquin Valley, starting with the Arvin District in late June.

Apple shipments, which took at 30 percent hit last year, are expected to return to normal this year.  Beginning in July, California apple shipments get underway, but this is minor (2 million boxes) compared to Washington state  (129 million boxes predicted).

Kern District

Located near Bakersfield, Kern County ships a lot carrots and potatoes, althouigh this time of the year you will get a better freight rate hauling more perishable items ranging from lettuce to stone fruit, grapes and berries.

Kern County potatoes shipments started about a week ago.  Due to so much over production of russet potatoes around the country, this variety has been reduced by up to 75 percent.  Russets have been replaced primarily with red, yellow and white potatoes.

When Kern County growers are not planting carrots or potatoes in their fields, they use bell peppers as a rotation crop.  Bell peppers loadings are just starting and building in volume, continuing until November.

Salinas vegetables – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

California desert vegetables – about $7300 to New York City.


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Increasing Imports Mean More Produce Loads During Winter

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Over the past two decades imported fresh fruits and vegetables have increased substantially.  Not only does this mean year around availability of many items for consumers, but increased loading opportunities – especially during the off season when these items are not available in the USA.  Here’s a look at some produce coming from other countries.

Blueberries from Chile are arriving in the USA and  will continue through April.  With the arrival of the New Year will be the appearance at USA ports with Chilean table grapes and stone fruit.

There is good movement of Central American cantaloupes, honeydews and Mexican honeydews.  Loadings of product from Guatemala should continue into about the second week of January.  Many of the Central American imports arrive a Florida ports.  Imported cantaloupe are crossing the border into Texas from Mexico.  Asparagus is being imported from  Mexico and Peru and should increase in volume in December.

Typically in January, volume from Mexico through Nogales, AZ really picks up, led by table grapes, but including a number of other items.

Biggest Change with Imports Coming Soon

The biggest change in decades with imported produce will start occuring a matter of weeks.  Historically, south Texas has been a major produce shipping area with its fruits and veggies from the Lower Rio Grande Valley and to a much lesser degree from the Winter Garden District, just south of San Antonio.

However, over the past 20 years a lot has changed in Texas.  Today, about 65 percent of the fresh produce moved by Lone Star State shippers is grown in Mexico, with the balance grown in Texas.  The state now ranks third in USA produce shipments, having surpassed Arizona.  California and Florida rank first and second respectively in fresh produce loads.

While much of the imports from Mexico over the years have crossed the border into the USA from Nogales and Tijuana, a significant amount of this tonnage will be shifting to the McAllen, TX border area.  This is due to the 143-mile-long Durango-Mazatlan highway expected to open before the end of the year.

Produce shippers are excited because the new route will mean produce shipments that used to arrive at Nogales and Tijuana and destined from Midwestern and Eastern markets, will no longer have to travel two mountain ranges.  It also is expected to reduce freight costs up to a $1,000.



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California Shipments Continue Heavy Summer Volume

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The Salinas and San Joaquin Valleys  continue to provide your best loading opportunities in California.

Head lettuce may be producing the biggest volume from Salinas and is averaging around 1700 to 1800 truckload equivalents a week.  However, there remains significant tonnage coming with other types of lettuce, as well broccoli, cauliflower, celery and many other items….The nearby Watsonville area is shipping a lot of strawberries….

The relentless heat baking much of the USA this summer makes it paramount you take precautions to protect your load  (check out the TransFresh ad on this website that provides “in-transit warming” information).

The Santa Maria district has much lighter volume than Salinas, but it also is shipping many of the same vegetables.

The San Joaquin Valley has both fruits and vegetable loadings occurring from many areas.  In the central valley around 500 to 600 truckload equivalents of mature green tomatoes are being shipped each week….Table grape loadings continue on pace to what could be record shipments this year, with heaviest volume currently coming from the Arvin and Delano areas.

Shipments from the California desert of cantaloupe (and some other items) has mercifully come to an end as some product was looking pretty rough at the end of the season.

California supplies for refrigerated equipment generally remain adequate, but you shouldn’t face signficant delays for loads in most cases because of the seasonal volume.

Salinas vegetables are grossing – about $7700 to Hunts Point in New York City.

San Joaquin Valley fruits and vegetables – about $5000 to Chicago.

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