Two Georgia peach grower-shippers are expanding their volume with a sales partnership to pack up to a combined 1 million cartons.

Fort Valley, Ga.-based Lane Packing LLC, one of Georgia’s leading peach growers and packers, is partnering with Dickey Farms Inc., Musella, Ga., to sell each operation’s peaches.

Lane Packing and Dickey Farms partner on peach sales

Through the deal, finalized in late December, Lane’s sales force sells Dickey’s peaches, said Duke Lane III, Lane Packing’s vice president of sales.

The two plan to market fruit under the Lane Southern Orchards and Dickey Farms labels.

Lane packed nearly 700,000 25-pound cartons in 2010. Dickey brings up to 250,000 cartons to the table.

Lane said the two companies began talking about partnering in September, after they finished the 2010 season.

“In recent years there has been a bigger demand for Georgia peaches,” Lane said. “To better serve our retailers, we needed more volume and consistent supply of premium Georgia peaches. We have new and improved varieties coming out of Georgia that have performed really well in recent years and consumer demand for fresher, better eating fruit has certainly helped improve sales.”

Randy Wilkinson, president of Belle Glade, Fla.-based Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc., who had been handling Dickey’s peach sales for 25 years, retired to concentrate on sweet corn sales, said Robert Dickey III, Dickey Farms’ vice president.

Dickey said Wilkinson did a good job but said the fourth-generation grower-shipper felt it was time to move to the Lane organization.

“It’s a good fit with them being close by here as we know each other very well,” Dickey said. “He (Lane) knows what kind of quality we do and what the buyers expect. We are really trying to push into some new markets in the Southeast with Georgia-grown and local grown peaches. This will give us the ability to do that with a lot of marketers.”

Bob Dickey, 82, remains active in the family-owned business, which finished its 103rd season in 2010.

Georgia’s deal normally runs mid-May to mid-August.