Donation will help south San Joaquin Valley keep packing fresh fruit

The Modesto Bee
By John Holland

On Friday morning, in the dead of winter, I tasted fresh fruit as sweet as anything picked in summer.

It was a mandarin from the southern half of the San Joaquin Valley, which produces citrus at a time of year when most of our fruit-growing regions are out of season. Consumers around the nation and beyond can enjoy the flavors and health benefits of oranges, grapefruit and their kin.

The wintry bounty could keep flowing for years to come, thanks in part to a donation of fruit-processing equipment to California State University, Fresno by Bee Sweet Citrus, based in nearby Fowler.

Ag students will use the $600,000 packing line to learn how to clean, inspect, sort and pack up to 16 pieces of fruit per second from the 1,000-acre farm. Along with citrus, it will handle peaches and nectarines in winter and pomegranates in fall.

Above: Fresno State students empty oranges onto the Bee Sweet Fresh Fruit packing line for processing. Cresencio Rodriguez Delgado –

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