Crown Jewels Produce Co. in Fresno, CA, is a diversified grower, shipper and distributor of fruits and vegetables from California, Mexico and other producing regions.
Fresh table grapes are “a big part of what we do,” and grapes from Mexico are an important part of the company’s year-round program, bridging from the end of the Chilean deal to the start of the California deal, according to Atomic Torosian, a partner in the company.
Crown Jewels’ Mexican grapes are grown in the three major grape-growing areas of the state of Sonora — the Pesqueira region north of Hermosillo, the coastal area west of Hermosillo and the Caborca area, Mr. Torosian said. “We don’t have any grapes coming out of the Guaymas area, not yet anyway.” Guaymas is a newer grape-growing area in Sonora with only relatively small production presently.
Crown Jewels’ program consists of Perlettes, Flames, Sugraones, Summer Royals and Red Globes. The company expects to start harvesting Perlettes in Pesqueira around May 10 or 12, followed by Flames around May 14 or 15, Mr. Torosian said.
Crown Jewels’ acreage is up a little this year, and Mr. Torosian said he expects the company to have a volume increase of about 10-15 percent over last year.
He expects production industry-wide to be “a little bit light on the front end” with “some pretty good volume coming off” by the first week in June.
“Overall, I think the crop looks good,” Mr. Torosian said March 25, a few weeks after he had visited the grape-growing areas in Mexico. “There are going to be ample grapes for promotions” from around June 5 through the end of that month, which means there will be good volume available for the Fourth of July pull.
“We are going through our Chilean season right now, and that has been an unusual season,” he said. The front end saw very high prices, “and then we had grapes that had some arrival issues, primarily on the East Coast,” due to rain. But “now we have gotten through that, and we are into better quality out of Chile.”
Mr. Torosian was uncertain how long the Chilean season would continue and how much overlap there might be with Mexico, but his expectation was that “there will be a slight overlap” at the start of the Mexican season. There almost always is, he added.
At Crown Jewels, which has a branch office in Nogales, AZ, “we go from one deal” right into another, from Chile into Mexico and then from Mexico “right into California,” Mr. Torosian said. “So we are in grapes pretty much 12 months out of the year now, and it is a big part of the Crown Jewels program.”