Made in the Valley: Sunnyside Packing

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It's harvest season and one of the busiest times of the year for farmers and their crews. (KFSN)

More than half of the country's nuts, fruits and vegetables are grown here in the Golden State, and Central Valley is the hub of that agriculture activity.
All week long, our "Made In The Valley" series is focusing on fresh produce, and today we're featuring bell peppers and eggplant.

During harvest season, pickers and machines work hand in hand. Pickers will walk behind the machine and hand harvest the crop off the plant. The fruit or vegetable is placed on a conveyor belt where it is taken through a sanitary water bath. Once cleaned, it is taken by conveyor belt to a team of packers who will place the product into cartons. When the carton is full, it is then placed onto a third conveyor belt that takes it to the end of the machine where it is palletized according to size and grade.

A crew of around 20 people can average around 150 cartons per hour -- around 4,000 lbs of product -- depending on the time of season and crops being harvested. The field can have over 300 people working daily in the fields harvesting various crops.

Sunnyside Packing was founded in 1948 by Fred Hirasuna and partners Min Omata and Morris Cocola. They wanted hundreds of small, family growers in the Fresno area to gain greater access to the markets. Sunnyside packing served as the marketing and distribution farm for these growers in addition to the former strawberry exchange cooperative which was made up of predominantly Japanese-American strawberry growers from around the Fresno area.

The company was started in Fresno moved to Selma in 1978. The main shipping markets include western half of United States and Canada

Today, the company ships an average of 1 million cartons seasonally -- which spans from early May through late October. Cartons range in weight from 10 lbs to 50 lbs.
Related Topics:
businessagriculturemade in the valleyfarmingSelma
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