New cherry growers to boost Oppy's U.S. volumes

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New cherry growers to boost Oppy's U.S. volumes

The Oppenheimer Group's cherry volumes in its U.S. Northwest program look set to nearly double with two new Oregon growers, the company announced.

Orchard View Farms in The Dalles and Blue Mountain Growers in Milton-Freewater are the latest recruits to the company's program.

Oppenheimer cherry, apple and pear category manager David Nelley, said increased production would benefit both domestic and export markets.

"Blue Mountain Growers harvest early and Orchard View Farms continues as a late supplier, so our customers can get consistent volumes of cherries from mid-June through to mid-August."

He reported that production had got off to an excellent start.

"May was warm - right through to early June when we had a little rain, we've experienced ideal weather conditions. Last week's rain made everyone a little nervous, but we seem to have emerged just fine."

He said growers producing in different locations within the Northwest cherry crop each had their own micro-climate providing diveristy to the program.

"Orchard View's unique conditions lead to larger, sweeter cherries that are well suited for our export markets," he said, explaining that last year the grower exported 40% of its crop which was significantly higher than the Northwest industry average.

Orchard View is complemented by growing volumes from Blue Mountain Growers cooperative, sold under the Blue Goose label.

The cooperative's small intensively farmed orchards are produing earlier and newer varieties like Bentons designed to achieve good control over harvest and quality.

Blue Mountain Growers' CEO Justin Brunson said the organization was installing a new enhanced packing line aimed at increasing productivity.

"We've added a third Red Pearl sizer, which will increase our capacity by 50% to 15 tons per hour. We've also brought in two new sorting tables, which means about 24 extra hands will be sorting and checking the quality of the fruit. This improves efficiency and assures only the absolutely best cherries get into the box."

The cooperative has also focused on improving food safety and good agriculture practices this year.

"With new partnerships, like the one we have forged with Oppenheimer, we are well positioned to bring top qualitiy cherries to market and help our customers drive sales."

Oppenheimer's cherry program continues into the fall and winter with Southern Hemisphere supplies out of Argentina and Chile.

Photo: Oppenheimer Group

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