The California avocado industry experienced significant damage during the record-setting Thomas Fire, which has burned approximately 281,893 acres and destroyed at least 1,063 structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Despite the hardship caused to avocado growers, industry experts maintain a positive outlook for the season.
“There’s going to be a lot of good California premium fruit coming very soon,” said Vice President of Industry Affairs for the California Avocado Commission Ken Melban. Early projections had indicated about a 400 million pound crop this year. “We will easily have probably 60 percent more fruit this year than we had last year, if not even a little bit above that,” said Melban.
While some growers and processors are still assessing the effects of the fire, there is already some California fruit being picked and packaged. “We are very, very confident that we’re going to still have a very high level of fruit coming through for our season,” Melban noted.
Melban recently spoke at the Ag Fire Recovery and Frost Refresher on January 10 at the Ventura County Agriculture Museum, offering information on the extent of damage caused to avocado orchards during the Thomas Fire. It is still too early to establish a conclusive figure on the number of losses the California avocado industry suffered during the wildfire. “The extent of the damage to the trees is yet to be determined and we just have to take some time to allow the trees to either respond or not respond,” said Melban.
Figures indicate there were nearly five thousand acres located within the perimeter of the fire, but Melban noted that not all those acres endured fire damage. “This is very, very preliminary, but we estimate about 1,250 to maybe 1,500 acres did suffer some level of fire damage, but we are still assessing that,” Melban stated.
Listen to the interview below.