A $4 million renovation and expansion of Lane Southern Orchards’ existing packing house in Fort Valley, Georgia, is underway and is expected to be complete for an early-summer peach harvest.
The expansion doubles the capacity of the current packing house from 1.5-3 million cases, or 23,000 25-lb. boxes per day, in preparation for the 2019 peach season.
The expansion of the Lane Southern Orchards packing house also includes significant upgrades to grading and sorting technology. Part of the multi-million-dollar investment includes an expanded and improved cold chain within the facility, an upgraded high-efficiency sorting technology system, enhanced LED lighting, and new efficient shipping and receiving facilities. Georgia-based Durand-Wayland is also outfitting a customized gentle robotic bin handling system to streamline efficiencies in the new packing house.
“Since joining International Farming Corp.’s family of companies in 2015, they have been a great partner for us in building upon the 100-plus year history of Lane. They understand the culture of farming and have given us the opportunity for tremendous growth,” says Mark Sanchez, CEO of Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley. “The ability to enhance our facilities to create best-in-class efficiencies and quality control is the latest example of that growth.”
The merger of Lane Southern Orchards and Taylor Orchards last year resulted in combined acreage, facilities and innovation, making the organization the largest combined peach and pecan operation in the U.S. With the surge of new plantings in 2018 and 2019, the overall total acreage of the company now encompasses more than 10,000 acres of peaches and pecans, all under the direction of the company’s president of farming operations, Jeff Wainwright.
In addition to the farming operations, Duke Lane III, partner in Genuine Georgia and director of sales for Lane Southern Orchards, said, “The complete renovation of the original Lane facility with new technology allows us to easily handle the additional supply of peaches and be a better supplier to our existing customers while we expand our customer base.”
He added, “Modernization makes consistency and supply more streamlined; however, every piece of fruit in a Lane Southern Orchards box is still hand-picked and hand-packed and flavor will always be goal number one for our customers.”