Dennis Johnston, partner in Edison, Calif.-based Johnston Farms, said two nephews, Cameron and Derek Vaughn, have joined the sales force to promote the grower-shipper’s navels and mandarins.
Johnston has also introduced a new mesh and poly bag from Fox Packaging in McAllen, Texas, for its Blue Jay brand navels.
“It breathes better than an all-poly bag, it’s not as expensive as an all-mesh bag, and it’s attractive with the printed logo on it,” Johnston said.
His satsuma mandarin harvest ended just before the mid-January freeze, and he expected minimum damage to his murcotts and other mandarin varieties, including Tahoe Gold.
Johnston harvested about 100 acres of satsumas with stems and leaves this year, an Asian tradition that’s becoming more popular, he said.
“Satsumas are pretty delicate, and with stems and leaves they have to move through the supply chain pretty fast before the leaves dry up and fall off,” he said.
“It’s a good way to keep good fresh mandarins moving through the system.”
In export markets, Johnston said Australia and New Zealand have been strong, but South Korea has been slow starting.
“I think they have their own heavy mandarin crop left so they’re not buying a lot yet from us,” he said.
Paramount Citrus buys Texas operations
California’s largest independent grower-shipper-marketer of fresh citrus has begun merging its Texas acquisitions into Paramount Citrus Texas.
Delano-based Paramount Citrus Association acquired Texas-based Healds Valley Farms last July. Healds Valley represents nearly 50% of the state’s citrus farms.
In mid-December, it purchased the citrus assets of Mission-based Rio Queen Citrus to become the main supplier of Texas citrus, particularly red grapefruit.
“Merging the two companies will create efficiencies for customers and growers alike,” said Scott Owens, Paramount’s vice president sales and marketing.
“We believe Paramount is well-positioned with its marketing activities to increase the demand for Texas grapefruit to a whole new level,” Owens said.
New distribution centers in the McAllen, Texas, area will give Paramount customers greater variety and one stop shopping, he said.
After buying 9,500 acres of lime groves in the southern Mexico state of Tabasco last year, the company also plans to become the largest vertically integrated lime grower in Mexico.
“We are now just getting into the 2013 crop and our new properties are starting to really produce volumes,” Owens said.