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The exotic fruit that is grown only 75 minutes from LA

2019/08/28

DATE:Aug. 6, 2019 / MEDIA:Fresh Plaza

The California dragon fruit season is just about to commence. Growers are expected to start picking the first fruits during the next week or so. The cooler than usual weather conditions earlier this year has resulted in the harvest being pushed back by a couple of weeks, however producers are not too concerned and had anticipated this. Growers like Moonland Produce - producer of the California Sweet Dragon variety - say that yields are going to be higher this year.

"We anticipate harvest to begin the 2nd week of August," said Anthony Shoghi of Moonland Produce. "We have been monitoring flower buds daily and expect the first fruit of the season that week. Every season our expectation is that our yield will increase from the season prior. During our off-season (January - July), our primary focus is to put more plants in the ground and nurture the plants we already have planted to increase production. Last year we harvested 60,000 pounds of California Sweet dragon fruit, and this year we're expecting to harvest ~75,000 pounds."

The California Sweet Dragon

As the name suggests, the California Sweet Dragon brand is exclusive to California, and more specifically Moonland Produce, which grows 100 percent of the production. They are described as private, hybrid, self-pollinating varieties of dragon fruit. "The varieties of dragon fruit grown in California currently consist of public domain varieties," Shoghi explained. "These need to be hand-pollinated and are generally smaller in size and not as sweet as our California Sweet Dragon varieties. In 2020 we will be introducing our organic line of California Sweet Dragon and a line of sweet white flesh varieties."

He added that the fact that they are locally grown in California is a major selling point and is the foundation of the company's investment. "This is an exotic fruit grown just 75 minutes driving from Downtown LA!" Shoghi noted. "We do not have to fly in our fruit, pack it onto a container to ship via sea, or irradiate it because it comes from Florida or another country. Because we are local we are able to deliver to our Southern California customers within 3 days of harvest, and if we are shipping fruit out of state the cold chain is never broken and our customers are receiving a product with ample shelf life."

Distribution and upcoming products

While Moonland Produce is expected to begin producing organic California Sweet Dragon by 2020 as well as a white flesh variety this upcoming season, Shoghi also shared that the company is building a framework to offer several other byproducts of our operation which include: kombucha, dried fruit, and honey. For now, California Sweet Dragon is available through several channels in the United States.

"Currently our fruit is packed by grade (#1 and #2) and size, while all boxes will be packed to 10 pounds net weight," he concluded. "In terms of distribution, this season our California Sweet Dragon will be available in Southern California via Gelson's Markets, Portland via New Seasons Market, Salt Lake City via Harmon's Grocery, Minnesota via Lunds & Byerly's, New York via Baldor Food, and Houston via Linda's Tropical Fruits."

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