wind damage

Significant Wind Damage Reported in Southern California Orchards

Brian German Fruits & Vegetables, Industry

  • wind damage
  • wind damage
  • wind damage
  • wind damage

Growers are still assessing the wind damage they experienced from the recent windstorms that swept through Southern California. The region experienced strong winds last week with gusts of nearly 100 mile-per-hour winds in higher elevations. Producers saw significant fruit drop in their orchards, along with broken limbs and downed trees. Ventura County farmer Chris Sayer from Petty Ranch said the winds did some serious damage in their orchards.

“We had sustained 50 mile-an-hour winds for much of Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. So, we’ve got a few trees knocked over, a few limbs broken. Probably about 20 percent of our avocado crop ended up on the ground,” Sayer noted. “While we didn’t lose many lemons directly, I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of scarring and downgrading of the fruit when it actually does get to harvest. This was an event that we’ll feel at the bottom line this year.”

Shallow root systems in avocados make the trees more vulnerable to windstorms. The severe winds bent trees that Sayer planted back in 2019 so far that it broke the stakes. Some trees were also broken off at ground level and sent downwind.   Sayer noted that the wind damage was most apparent in their Hass avocados. “Probably about 60 percent of that crop is gone. But the more compact Lamb Hass fruit, which is downwind and a little bit sheltered, doesn’t look like the damage will be too bad there. So, it should even out between the two,” Sayer explained.

High winds of last week have been followed up with significant storm systems bringing rain and snow to much of California this week. Sayer said they were fortunate to get some of their Meyer lemons picked prior to the winds having too much of an impact. However, there is still some risk for the rest of their lemon crop which will stay on the trees for a few more weeks. “We’ll see a little bit of scarring and loss there. Most of our crop is still on the trees and still vulnerable to weather events,” said Sayer.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West