West Coast Field Tours 2018
Buyers got to see the operations of four Coachella Valley producers on the field tour. ( Ashley Nickle )

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Buyers saw bell peppers, grapes, herbs and dates during the four stops on the 2018 West Coast Produce Expo field tour.

About 50 attendees examined grapes about 10 days from harvest at Richard Bagdasarian and walked through rows of pepper plants under shade cloth at Prime Time International. Buyers also toured greenhouses at North Shore Sales and Marketing and a packinghouse of Double Date Packing.

Buyers asked lots of questions at each stop and learned about irrigation, how the crops develop, when they mature, how they are packed, what kind of costs are involved in growing, and more.

Prime Time noted that the peppers it displayed are currently “green gold” given the hot market. With that being the case, and since red peppers are green first, companies can sell them green instead of red to take advantage of strong pricing – as long as they still have plenty of reds to meet commitments.

The company was also growing watermelon and corn.

Richard Bagdasarian, a large lemon producer and one of the bigger members of Sunkist Growers, educated those on the tour about its grapes. Some cooler weather during the season pushed the start date a little bit, but the company expects a good crop. The grapes that tour attendees got to see were set to get bigger and redder in the week and a half or so before harvest.

The company was also growing bell peppers – and also made note of the high demand for green ones.

 North Shore Sales and Marketing took tour attendees through two of its greenhouses, including the area where its living basil was being packed into sleeves for retail. Topics of discussion there included the efficiencies of hydroponic growing, including a controlled environment and lower water use.

Double Date Packing led the group through its packinghouse and showed off one of its date farms, where buyers learned how the fruit grows, how it is protected from insects and how it is harvested.

Albertsons and Sobeys were among the buyers represented on the tour.