California strawberry business updates

03/27/2013 02:30:00 PM
Tom Burfield

The firm also is expanding its strawberry deal to offer 300 acres of berries year-round. Corona Marketing also is developing a 100-acre organic program that should be ready by next season.

Dole Berry Co. increases acreage

Dole Berry Co. LLC, Salinas, Calif., has increased its Southern California acreage this season and now is shipping organic strawberries out of Santa Maria, said Vince Ferrante, director of farming and harvesting operations. Quality out of all of the California regions so far has been excellent, he said.

“Production has been slow due to the cooler weather,” he said in early March, “but we anticipate the volume to significantly increase post-Easter.”

Los Kitos Produce develops software

Orange, Calif.-based Los Kitos Produce LLC & Farms has developed a software tool to help buyers deal with the volatile strawberry market, said Martha Montoya, founder and chief executive officer. The company was testing the program in early March.

The software analyzes 17 variables that affect the market. Those variables include weather, state of the economy, port activity and consumer behavior. They help growers determine the price they should set or even whether they should harvest their crop.

The purpose of the program is to keep strawberry prices strong and avoid dumping berries on the market, she said. The company expects to make a decision about how and where to distribute the software this spring.

Naturipe uses in-field cooling system

This is the second year

of commercial operation for the in-field cooling system of

Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, said Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing.

With this system, he said, “the berries are harvested and cooled in the field and then loaded directly onto the truck for delivery to the client’s warehouse. 

“Numerous studies have shown that the faster you can precool your fruit, you will gain shelf life.”

The in-field cooler will be moved up and down the coast as the season progresses. The first half of the year, it will be based in Oxnard. It will be moved to Salinas for the second half — the late spring and summer season.

Also at Naturipe, in response to market demands, the company continues to increase organic strawberry acreage in the Oxnard and Salinas/Watsonville districts.



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