The bad news is that roughly 1,000 acres of avocados, by preliminary estimates, totaling 25 million pounds burned in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in the Thomas Fire, according to South Coast farmer Rick Shade, who chairs the California Avocado Commission. The good news is California’s overall, 2018 avocado crop is still expected to be bigger than 2017’s.
Specific tallies of the impacts to agriculture are not yet available, according to multiple industry experts. What is known is that the avocado crop suffered most severely, while citrus and cut-flower industries felt some pain.
In addition to scars from the wildfire, the high Santa Ana winds blew the unripe fruit right off the trees. “The fire was pushed by these strong winds, which in itself will do damage to the crop,” said avocado wholesaler Wayne Brydon. “We always get knocked down a little bit, but these were two big blows.”
This year’s avocado harvest was about half the size of 2016’s harvest in part because of California’s seven-year drought. Market prices throughout the state and country have increased.
By Paul Wellman (file)