Visalia Produce Sales boosts table grape volume

08/02/2010 04:24:28 PM
Don Schrack

Kingsburg, Calif.-based Visalia Produce Sales Inc. has increased its domestic table grape deal by up to 300,000 cartons for the 2010 season.

That is about a 20% increase over the company’s 2009 table grape volume, said George Matoian, domestic grape sales manager. The bulk of the increase is from Robert Johnson Farms, Madera. Calif.

“We’ll be co-marketing their grapes with R.J. Sales, the marketing arm of Robert Johnson Farms,” Matoian said.

Robert Johnson Farms grows five grape varieties, predominantly flames and crimsons, he said.

The Madera grower-shipper began harvesting flames July 29, said Jan Johnson of R.J. Sales.

“That’s about three weeks later than we started picking last year,” she said.

The fruit from Robert Johnson Farms and marketed by R.J. Sales and Visalia Produce Sales will be packed under the grower-shipper’s Jenelle label. Grapes from other sources and sold by Visalia Produce will carry the company’s familiar SunPower label.

Robert Johnson Farms also is resurrecting for some varieties the Oxley label, which Johnson said has not been used for a few years.

Robert Johnson Farms and its marketing arm are family owned and operated. The principals are Robert and Jan Johnson and their daughter, Michelle. Joining the company at R.J. Sales this season is Megan Williams, who was previously in the fund development industry.

Visalia Produce Sales will have supplies of flames and summer royals at least through August, Matoian said. Harvesting of princess grapes began in late July

“The crimsons are beginning to color, and we’ll have about 500,000 cartons of crimsons,” he said. “They will be available well into the fall.”

Other varieties from Visalia Produce this fall will include scarlot royals and autumn kings and a limited supply of red globes, Matoian said.

Autumn kings are among the new varieties planted at Robert Johnson Farms, but the new plantings are not yet ready to produce commercial crops, Johnson said.



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