Ballantine Produce Co. Inc., Sanger, Calif., is shutting down after more than 65 years as a leader in the California fresh fruit industry, a source close to the company confirmed.

Telephone calls to the company’s administrative offices the morning of May 8 went directly to an after-hours answering system. Calls to the Ballantine Produce sales department were not returned.

Ballantine Produce is a partner in the Ripe ‘N Ready brand of pre-conditioned stone fruit, along with two other central San Joaquin Valley grower-shippers, Fowler Packing Inc., Fowler, and SunWest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier. The group also began marketing two other brands Zeal and Treehouse Kids, in 2008.

Ballantine’s closure marks the second departure from the Ripe ‘N Ready brands’ grower-shippers in recent months. George Bros. Inc., Sultana, closed its doors in December.

As yet unconfirmed reports indicate Fowler Packing and SunWest Fruit will assume the responsibility of packing and shipping The stone fruit growers have been producing for Ballantine. Telephone calls to Fowler Packing and SunWest Fruit were not immediately returned May 8.

Founded by three partners in 1943, Ballantine’s volume in recent years has been about nine million cartons of peaches, plums, nectarines apricots, apples and Asian pears. In addition to the California-grown fruit, it imported fruit from Chile and Mexico.