Cuyama Orchards is organic apple giant - The Packer

Cuyama Orchards is organic apple giant

08/16/2010 04:12:20 PM
Don Schrack

The state of Washington is the West’s apple growing monarch, but the region’s No. 1 grower-shipper of organic apples, Cuyama Orchards, is based in California.

“Our volume will be right around 200,000 cartons this season,” said Byron Albano, marketing manager.

The grower-packer-shipper maintains its sales and administrative offices in North Hollywood, but the orchards are in the Cuyama Valley, about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara.

Cuyama Orchards is on the warmer, eastern side of the California coastal range, but because of the valley’s microclimate, the organic apple season starts weeks later than conventional apple crops elsewhere in the state.

“Galas start our program, and harvesting should begin about Aug. 30, “Albano said in early August. “Our second variety is the Honeycrisp, which we’ll start packing in mid-September.”

Another September arrival will be granny smiths.

“It’s not yet a major variety for us, but we’re relatively new to the grannys,” Albano said.

The premier apple variety at Cuyama Orchards is the fuji.

“We have a very high-brix, exceptional fuji,” Albano said.

Picking of early fujis is scheduled to begin about Sept. 25, he said, with the standard fuji season expected to start about Oct. 15.

Apples are the major commodity at Cuyama Orchards, but a featured item is the crimson gold crabapple.

“It’s a small, sweet crab apple,” Albano said, “And we’re certainly the country’s largest grower-shipper of crimson golds.”

Yet another of the company’s major apple varieties is Pink Ladies; the harvest is scheduled to start in early November.

Cuyama Orchards also grows limited supplies of organic heirloom apples. Among them are Arkansas blacks, spitzenbergs and pippins, Albano said.

Acreage at Cuyama Orchards this season increased by more than 25% when a 60-acre block received organic certification.

“That brings our total to 265 organic certified acres,” Albano said.

The volume will ramp up in the coming years, he said, because some of the orchards have not yet reached maturity.

Cuyama Orchards will have promotable supplies of apples through the holidays and will continue to ship the organic fruit at least through March and possibly into April, Albano said.

Retailers make up the lion’s share of the company’s customers, followed by wholesalers. The company also serves a limited number of foodservice customers, Albano said.

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Carol Jean Jones    
Oakland, CA  |  November, 21, 2011 at 10:16 PM

I have been purchasing the small organic fuji apples ( at Farmer Joe's Marketplace) and they have been wonderful. those apples make a great snack with a handful of raw Almonds or a nice cheese ( such as Pecorino Romano or Trader Joe's Tuscano Cheese with Black Pepper). Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family & friends. Regards, Carol Jean Jones

Kris Johnson Michiels    
Richmond  |  December, 03, 2011 at 10:17 AM

I have just tried Cuyama Orchard's Black Arkansas apple and am totally in love with them. Must go get some more!!!

Topanga, CA  |  December, 04, 2011 at 01:19 PM

I am chomping on my first Cuyama Orchard's Black Arkansas apple. Pretty tasty, seems to have been picked when fully ripened instead of too early to survive shipping and storage like many places. Probably because the farm is located a few hours north but still, the fresher the better!

Cale Lowther    
QC, Arizona  |  December, 04, 2011 at 06:43 PM

Your granny smith green apples are honestly THE BEST apples! I juice on a regular basis and love to use only granny smith apples. They are huge and has a great taste. You usually dont get size growing organically so I was surprised by the size of the apples.

Oakland, CA  |  December, 17, 2011 at 01:01 PM

Cuyama Orchards' Pink Ladies at Farmer Joe's - absolutely delicious! Wish I could get those Arkansas Blacks.

South Pasadena  |  December, 17, 2011 at 04:46 PM

Your pink ladies and granny smiths both do it for me. And a huge shout-out to you for growing a truly pesticide and chemical-free apple. Your apples taste fantastic, and they don't have any of that bitter or waxy reside that smacks of pesticides. Seriously, I will not buy apples from any farm other than yours. I seek out your label at teh store, as does my husband. Thank you for sticking to your organic guns. It's not just a matter of taste but of health and of environmental integrity. Truly organic consumers know this and will reward you for acting in good faith.

chett a maruyama    
hilomhawaii  |  January, 20, 2012 at 07:26 PM

You have the very best. I just love your apples. Is it possible to take a tour to see these Fuji apple trees. I have never seen one. Thank you for producing such great apples. aloha chett

Linda Primiani    
Glendale, CA  |  October, 20, 2012 at 04:00 PM

I LOVE Cuyama Orchards organic apples.... especially the Honeycrisp. Apples grown by Cuyama Orchards taste better than any other apples.... I don't know what they do but whatever it is, they produce a superior product.

Charles Spink    
Santa Paula, CA  |  October, 28, 2012 at 01:45 PM

Just bought a bag of Crimson Golds at Gelsons in Santa Barbara...never had a crabapple close to this delicious! A real treat. Looking forward to trying your other organic varietals.

November, 08, 2012 at 05:23 PM

I don't know why I felt the need to find out who produced these apples but they really are the best organic apples I have ever had. I buy them from Whole Foods in Los Angeles and I can't thank you enough for making the best organic apple that I feel good about eating. Thank you for caring enough to sell a healthy clean product unlike so many others.

San Diego, Ca  |  November, 29, 2012 at 09:25 PM

The crimson gold are the best. I look forward to them every year

KCMO  |  December, 19, 2012 at 02:26 AM

Arkansas Blacks are the best apples I've ever had. So dark, so crisp, so good. Going by how fresh they were, I figured they were actually grown in Arkansas (I'm in Missouri).

January, 15, 2013 at 10:39 AM

They have them at The Food Mill on MacArthur, just down the street! They are delicious!

San Jose, CA  |  February, 03, 2013 at 06:53 PM

Having been raised in the Santa Barbara area, "Cuyama"

San Jose, CA  |  February, 03, 2013 at 06:57 PM

Having been raised in the Santa Barbara area, "Cuyama" caught my eye in Whole Foods produce dept. and I had to try them. Organic Fuji....sugar sweet!! Excellent!!

katherine Parkinson    
Westwood  |  February, 28, 2013 at 03:31 PM

I have never looked up the sticker on a piece of produce before. I had to bc this was the best apple I have ever had.

Nancy Ingalls    
Ventucopa, CA  |  October, 02, 2014 at 01:30 AM

Three years of drought and heavy water pumping from Kern Ridge Growers for their carrot crops have left our aquifers very low. Please grow crops that are drought-tolerant! That's all the residents of the Cuyama Valley ask.

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