Tour Day: Citrus plant

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February 22nd 2010
Published: February 25th 2010
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There is a man driving this,There is a man driving this,There is a man driving this,

but it was rainy and windy, so they wrapped him to keep him from the weather! The picture makes it look like he can't see out, but actually it was very clear. Something to keep in mind if you ever decide to sell your windshield!
(Shining Light Ministries)

I’ve mentioned that we are in the heart of citrus country, and today we were fortunate enough to be able to tour a citrus handling plant, right here in Mission. (There are six in this valley, not counting the private growers who market their own.) The plant owns its own orchard, one of which surrounds it, but it also contracts with other growers…think Sidney Sugars! They process citrus fruit from November to April, and then handle honeydew melons during the month of May, and then they’re closed for until the fall. They start with Mars oranges (my favorite, except for the seeds!), then Navel, and they’re just beginning to pick Valencia. They’re also just starting to pick grapefruit, and they handle both the Ruby Red, and the Rio Red. They also have a separate business that ships packaged fruit, but we didn’t get to tour that part. One thing we all noticed was that the fruit is handled so carefully~~hand picked in the orchard, and from then on, it’s poured gently every time it’s transferred. At the height of their season, this plant handles 1000 crates of grapefruit a day; when it’s oranges, they pack 600 per
From the crate to this stop:From the crate to this stop:From the crate to this stop:

This is where the cleaning, sorting and packing begins. As you're looking at these pictures, notice how clean this facility is.
day…no wonder those forklifts move so fast!

They don’t give tours at this plant so we felt very fortunate to be allowed to do this. Bob and I stopped to ask about it, and for some reason they agreed to take us through, and then they let us walk the catwalks and Rigo (our guide) took us right down on the floor. They asked us not to mention the name of their plant, because they don’t want to have to refuse other people.

I’m going to post now, and call this a picture blog….

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


The fruit has been through the first The fruit has been through the first
The fruit has been through the first

cleaning station, and these people are picking out sticks and such, as well as obviously bad fruit. This is the first of many cleaning stations.
Every fruit is powerwashed withEvery fruit is powerwashed with
Every fruit is powerwashed with

chlorine solution. I asked Rigo, our wonderful guide, if he washes oranges, and other fruit with peels, before he peels them, and he said definitely yes! I now wash it with soap and water, just like the apples, etc.
They're processing grapefruitThey're processing grapefruit
They're processing grapefruit

right now, and you can see how clean they look, but they're all different sizes? Not to worry, someone already thought of how to handle that...
They're being sorted by size.They're being sorted by size.
They're being sorted by size.

From here, every fruit will be photographed, weighed and graded by computer. It'll happen again later down the trip, but if one gets through without a picture, the computer will kick it off the row, and it'll be recirulated.
Another sorting station...Another sorting station...
Another sorting station...

by the time the fruit is here, they're being sorted to either fancy (think A+) or select (B). The (C) ones are sent down a different line. If they're less than that, they go for that's [u]this[/u] plant, that's not necessarily what happens at every plant.
Yet one more selection process.  Yet one more selection process.
Yet one more selection process.

The grapefruit on the left are fancy, and any many will get shipped out in gift boxes, like the Fruit of the Month boxes, etc. This plant has a shipment department also, that sends gift boxes all over the world. Lots of the fancy ones will be wrapped in tissue paper to be sent...ooolala! They will also have a sticker applied. See how shiny they are? They've been sprayed with wax to keep them from drying out. (That's true of all of them, not just the A+ers!)(The grading scale is mine, not the plant's~~clever, huh?!)
This is the computer readout forThis is the computer readout for
This is the computer readout for

each fruit that goes through the plant. This was taken at the station before they were graded fancy or select (do you want the grades again?!) We were all impressed with how much data they have on each piece of fruit.
Bulk fruit is sold to the stores inBulk fruit is sold to the stores in
Bulk fruit is sold to the stores in

these cartons (cardboard) at a little cheaper price. The fruit is quality, but it's done being handled here, except to wrap the top and transport it.
Some fruit is packed in plasticSome fruit is packed in plastic
Some fruit is packed in plastic

crates, which are taken to another station and packed (by hand) into 40# boxes.
The forklifts bring the plastic crates overThe forklifts bring the plastic crates over
The forklifts bring the plastic crates over

and lift them so the fruit rolls into the staging area where it's packed into boxes. Then they're stored in a cooler until loaded into trucks. Was I exaggerating when I said this place was so clean?!
This reminded us of the movie "Cars"!This reminded us of the movie "Cars"!
This reminded us of the movie "Cars"!

We laughed when we saw them ready to go, but then we saw how fast they take the crates either to the next loading station, or to the cooler~~they really move! And there must have been 25 or 30 forklifts zipping all over this packing area.

3rd March 2010

I can't help but salvitate when I look at these grapfruit. I haven't been able to eat grapefruit because it interacts wrong with some of the meds. They look wonderful and I was glad you asked him about still washing the fruit. Now I don't feel so ,,,,,,,hmmm what is it called when it doesn't look dirty but you wash it anyway??
4th March 2010

We had two trees on our project site that had grapefruit on them, and nobody ate them because some people can't eat them because of medication, and the rest of us have had enough! Boy, I'm going to come to regret that! Do you call it obsessive? Fanatical? Anal? (want me to continue?!!)
11th March 2010

No, I don't think you need to add any more!!

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