Desert produce growers anticipate strong season for spring crops - The Packer

Desert produce growers anticipate strong season for spring crops

05/03/2013 12:01:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc. will be shipping rio red grapefruit from the desert growing areas through May, said Joan Wickham, manager of advertising and public relations.

Fruit quality, taste and color are excellent, she said.

“Rio red grapefruit are large fruit with a beautiful red pigment on the rind,” she said. “They are valued for their juice and fresh red flesh, known for its unique balance of sweetness and tang.”

The date harvest isn’t until fall, but some Coachella Valley companies pack dates year-round.

“We’re very big in dates,” said Bob Bianco, co-owner of Bakersfield, Calif.-based Anthony Vineyards, which owns half of Sun Date in Coachella.

He said the company is one of the biggest players in the valley’s date deal.

Although sales peak during the holiday season, demand remains strong for the fruit year-round, and the company’s date program continues to expand, he said.

“Half the population has never tasted a date, so there’s a lot of room for growth,” Bianco said.

Dates are high in potassium and a very healthful fruit, he added. They can be frozen and used in many ways.

They’re also gaining recognition as they work their way into school lunch programs.

Richard Bagdasarian Inc. in Mecca, Calif., also has a date program, said president Nick Bozick. Peter Rabbit Farms, which has offered medjool dates for years, started its own packing line last fall and plans to grow the program every year, Burton said.

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