With more than half of the harvest finished, California avocado season appears to be a success in the face of fire damage in some orchards and prolonged triple-digit temperatures. Growers reported some issues related to record-setting heat along with areas of fire damage from the recent Holiday Fire.
“We are just getting some preliminary reports of maybe some isolated damage within one or two groves…nothing really that significant for our industry,” Vice President of Industry Affairs for the California Avocado Commission (CAC) Ken Melban said in relation to the Holiday Fire which burned 113 acres in Santa Barbara County. The lack of damage can be partially attributed to groves in the area being relatively small in acreage.
The bigger concern for growers was a recent heatwave that came through. Diligent monitoring and making the necessary adjustments helped mitigate the damage related to the warm weather. “There is some isolated damage there, but the main thing is growers deal with environmental factors like this every year it seems and they’re very mindful of it,” Melban noted. “They had the irrigation going early to help keep the trees hydrated and withstand some of these triple-digit temperatures.”
The timing of the warm temperatures as it relates to the timing in the California avocado season was another factor in limiting the damage. “If the heat would have hit much earlier in the season this conversation may be different, but fortunately the timing is such that, while there could be some impact felt, overall we still feel pretty strong about where we are and the fruit that’s remaining,” said Melban.
Production appears to have come down slightly from earlier estimates, but Melban noted the season looks like a successful one. “I think right now we’re anticipating about, somewhere in the neighborhood of about 350 million pounds which is a slight down-tick but overall, very strong season.”
Listen to Melban’s interview below.