Gless Ranch expands desert citrus, adds figs

05/29/2013 05:29:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Gless RanchCourtesy Gless RanchA harvester works fig trees for Gless Ranch Inc., which has acquired K&W Farms, Palm Desert, Calif., and its fig and citrus orchards.Citrus grower Gless Ranch Inc. has begun its first season of fig production after acquiring Palm Desert, Calif.-based K&W Farms.

K&W Farms grew about 400 acres of figs, lemons, tangerines and tangelos. The sale closed in March, said John Gless, Southern California farm supervisor for Riverside-based Gless Ranch. The price was not disclosed.

“Figs are a new thing for us,” Gless said. “We were all citrus until we acquired this property.”

The citrus production is wide-ranging and includes navels, clementines and mandarins in Kern County; grapefruit in Riverside County; and lemons in the Coachella Valley.

The K&W Farms acquisition expands the company’s desert presence. The figs — 160 acres of them — also mark Gless Ranch’s entrance into organics.

“We have 80 organic and 80 conventional,” Gless said. “In all our citrus, we don’t have anything organic. But K&W had already certified the figs, so we’re just going with it.”

Harvesting of brebas started May 16. Brown turkey figs are scheduled to start in the first week of June. Gless forecast a 10% to 15% increase in yield from the acreage over last year due to younger trees maturing. Its tiger figs will hit the market this year for the first time, in small volumes.

The company is keeping the Mecca Gold label for figs, but it will name Gless Ranch rather than K&W Farms as the packer. The citrus, like other Gless Ranch citrus, will be handled by various packinghouses.

“We kept all the employees,” Gless said. “We still have Jose (Langarica) as the foreman.”

Desert production of figs goes through July, shutting down in August for about six weeks before resuming in mid-September and finishing in November.

Gless Ranch, a family owned company, was founded in 1907.

K&W Farms was founded in the 1950s by Lowell Weeks. Alan Weeks, longtime general manager, died in May 2011 at 53. Ilene Weeks, a retired school psychologist, succeeded him.



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