Business Updates: California Baja Tomatoes

08/31/2010 11:54:25 AM
Susie Cable

Grafting aids production at Andrew & Williamson

San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce focuses on finding tomato varieties with the best flavors, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing.

When it finds good ones, it grafts them on to disease-resistant rootstock for better production. Andrew & Williamson has its own 6-acre grafting facility in San Quintin, Mexico, on the Baja California penninsula. It opened the facility two seasons ago, with some grafting occurring there, but this is the first season that 100% of its grafting is taking place in that facility, Munger said.

Custom Pak West hires experienced manager

On Nov. 1, John Lupul started as sales manager for Immokalee, Fla.-based Custom Pak Inc.’s west facilities in Sacramento, Calif.

Before joining Custom Pak, Lupul worked as general manager for Ace Tomato Co. Inc., Manteca, Calif.

Before that, he owned and was president of JTL Produce Sales Inc., Stockton, Calif., which sold California-grown tomatoes for HS Packing, Stockton. JTL went out of business in 2008, Lupul said.

Cool weather slows early Deardorff harvest

Oxnard, Calif.-based Deardorff Family Farms started harvesting tomatoes in Oxnard in July, but the volumes had yet to ramp up to normal as of Aug. 2.

Cooler-than-normal temperatures with cloudy and foggy days in June and July slowed production, said David Cook, sales manager.

Volumes were expected to increase so that overall production would be similar to last year’s, but it likely will be more concentrated in the middle of the deal, from about mid-August to mid-October.

DiMare expects to harvest into November

Jeff Dolan, field operations manager for the DiMare Co., Newman, Calif., said this season’s California tomatoes are good quality.

The company started harvest in mid-May in California’s Coachella Valley, and moved to the San Joaquin Valley in mid-June. Crop progress was normal as of Aug. 3, and Dolan said he expected the San Joaquin Valley harvest to continue into November.

Fresh Pac Baja tomato volumes ramp up

Fresh Pac International, Oceanside, Calif., is expected to have up to 25% more romas, and about 20% more vine-ripes, cherries and grapes this season as compared to last year, said Brian Bernauer, sales director.

Each season, the company plants more tomatoes under shade cloth, he said. Shade cloth tends to increase production and makes fruit sizes and colors more consistent.

Oceanside Pole’s season going well

Tomato quality looked good in early August for Oceanside Pole Tomato Sales Inc., Oceanside, Calif., said Bill Wilber, president and director of marketing. Harvest got under way as usual, but late July brought cooler temperatures, which can slow production.

Oceanside Pole planted some additional acres for this season, so overall volume should be up slightly, Wilber said.



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