(May 20) STOCKTON, Calif. — Chinchiolo Stemilt California will finish its California cherry season this spring with its first president.

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc., which bought and renamed the formerly family owned Chinchiolo Fruit Co. in March 2003, named Larry Stonebarger president and chief executive officer in late April, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt.

Stonebarger had been production manager for Chinchiolo for five years before its purchase by Stemilt. He also has been chief operating officer for Sierra Hills Packing for three years and will retain that title and position.

Chinchiolo Stemilt will ship about a million packs of sweet cherries this year while Sierra Hills packs and ships about 700,000 cartons of apples and pears per year.

Mike Taylor, sales director for Stemilt, said he was excited to have Stonebarger overseeing operations at both Chinchiolo Stemilt and Sierra Hills.

Stonebarger will focus on improving production efficiency while maintaining high quality standards, Pepperl said.

“The biggest thing he will do is play a major part in new technology in the building,” Pepperl said.

Chinchiolo Stemilt installed optical sizers on its cherry line in early April. Newer varieties of cherries have larger shoulders than the typically round bing cherries, which makes sizing a challenge that may best be met by optical sizers, Pepperl said.

After Chinchiolo’s California cherry season ends in early June, Stemilt will ship the optical sizer up to Washington, where it will be used to size some of the larger cherries this summer.

Stemilt names chief of California cherry operation