President Keith Wilson Discusses King Fresh Cherries and Mexican Grapes
- by Laura Hillen
KINGSBURG, CA - April is in full swing, cherries are finishing their turn of color, and pickers throughout the state are finalizing their crops. With harvest upon us, and King Fresh Produce starting to pack up as we speak, President Keith Wilson took the time to tell me more about the company’s crop and its rising expectations for a flavorful season.
“Our fieldmen are looking at cherry orchards daily,” Keith tells me as we discuss the season. “Things are looking good despite the recent rains we received. Our growers are monitoring their fields and are optimistic about the season."
What else has been added to accommodate this year’s supply? Improved deliveries to the company's photo-optic sorting equipment, which allows King Fresh to quickly process and pack this year's crop. The company pulls its cherries from a large radius surrounding its location in Kingsburg, CA.
“We installed our new electronic sorters in 2015,” adds Keith. “The photo-optic sorters really do an outstanding job in grading color, size, and defects in a rapid amount of time, and our experienced packing house managers are extremely happy with the production improvements made to the cherry line in the off season.”
All these factors put King Fresh in position to yield bigger volumes per acre as one of the southern-most commercial cherry packers and shippers in California's San Joaquin Valley. Aided by a cold winter, this year's weather made for the expected crop, Keith discloses, even with the sporadic rains throughout varying regions.
Keith expects peak volume to be reached between May 5 and May 20. King Fresh's cherries will be packaged for sale in 11-pound loose cartons for export markets, with super clear pouch bags and clamshells of all sizes for the domestic markets in the Farmington Fresh, Hy-Flyer, King Fresh, and Sesame Street Eat Brighter brands. Domestic brands will be sold in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
King Fresh is expecting high demand for the holiday-rich month of May, and notes that retailers will be able to market Brooks, Corals, Tulares, Rainiers, Tioga, Sonnets, and improved Lapin cherry varieties during the busy season.
So, after concentrating on both the domestic and export business for its cherry programs, where will the company head next? Full force into grape season.
“Grapes will start in Mexico around May 15, followed by California around July 1,” Keith says. “The growing season looks very good due to the excellent chill hours, rain, and dormancy in the winter months. The early crop looks fantastic this year.”
As California cherry season continues to gain momentum, keep checking back with AndNowUKnow for current cherry market updates and the prospective grape market.