Crown Jewels Produce Co. in Fresno, CA, which handles a wide assortment of produce out of California and elsewhere, “has been in the cherry business now for at least eight or nine years,” according to Atomic Torosian, a partner in the company. “We don’t have a big presence, but it is a nice presence.”
The company is affiliated with KY Packing in Reedley, CA, he said. “Most of our early cherries that start in Kern County and go up through Madera are packed at KY Packing.” The KY facility was built last year, and this is the second season that Crown Jewels has packed cherries there. The cherries are packed in the “Crown Jewels” label.
Crown Jewels’ early-season cherries include such varieties as Brooks, Tulare and Coral. Bings are among the later offerings.
“We have a good mid- and late-season cherry deal that we work, with a couple of growers out of the north part of the valley,” Mr. Torosian said. “We also have a [late] deal out of Hollister.”
This year, “we have brought into play with our cherry program a gentleman who will be assisting us in the field and helping us out in different areas,” Mr. Torosian said. George Rossi worked for Crown Jewels once before, three or four years ago. Since then, “he has been working his own cherry deal up north. Now he is back with us” and connected with Crown Jewels for the cherry deal. “He is giving us a lot of good direction.”
All indications so far are that the season looks to be a good, Mr. Torosian said. But weather is always a caveat with any produce commodity, and particularly with cherries. Things looked good at the same point in the season last year as well, but then a combination of weather factors intervened and “the front end was a disaster. We just didn’t have an volume, and a lot of other guys didn’t either. It seems like the season didn’t really get going until about a week before June.” Through June, however, “it was more like a normal season.”
Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this year, but with a month to go before the start of the harvest, “there are a lot of things that you can still go through, weather-wise,” he said.