Rainier Fruit Company Discusses Heat Wave; Mark Zirkle, Tyler Johnson, and Blaine Markley Share Details
SELAH, WA - Growers in the Pacific Northwest have been battling the impacts of extreme temperatures as a record-breaking heat wave sweeps across the region. Washington is one state that has been muscling through, and I had the chance to hear what Rainier Fruit Company is doing to mitigate the impacts, and what its crops have in store for the rest of the season.
“We start in the field,” began Tyler Johnson, Commodity Manager, explaining how Rainier is working to ensure its supplies remain top-notch. “Blueberries are handpicked. That’s critical, it ensures that we only pick the ripest, most ready-to-eat fruit out there. It also helps preserve quality and mitigate bruising.”
Once the blueberries are picked, they’re put in forced-air cooling centers located right on the farms to pull out the heat. The product is then put on pre-chilled refrigerated trucks to be transported to Rainier’s packing facility.
For cherries, Blaine Markley, Director of Domestic Sales, explained that Rainier is utilizing 15 in-field hydrocoolers throughout the Northwest that remove the heat generated in the field.
Minutes after the cherries are picked, they are sent through 34-degree water, lowering that temperature down all the way to the pit. They’re then immediately put in pre-chilled refrigerated trucks, driven to the packing facility, ran through another hydrocooler, and finally, packed.
For both cherries and blueberries, Rainier’s cold chain is never broken. This adds days to the shelf-life of the fruit and maintains the integrity of the crunch and flavor—the secret sauce behind Rainier’s incredible summer fruit.
“Being adaptable is key. Thankfully, we have the equipment and skills to handle the extreme weather,” Mark Zirkle, Chief Executive Officer of Rainier concluded. “We were built for this. We will adapt to what Mother Nature has tossed our way, deliver the best summer fruit, all the while continuing to ship our crisp and crunchy apples. Year-round.”
AndNowUKnow will continue to keep you in the loop as we track weather patterns across the country.