Fruit sizes and prices look good for California avocados, but an intense heat wave last July took a steep toll on crop volumes.
"My objective, pretty consistently every year, is to be finished by the Fourth of July," Fallbrook grower and grove manager Charley Wolk said. "Except for one grove, I'm finished now. That gives you some idea of how much smaller that crop is."
Early estimates put the 2019 harvest at 175 million pounds, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission in Irvine. That's down considerably from 337.8 million pounds in the 2017-18 crop year.
"We started in basically early April with volume shipments, and we're looking at continuing really into September, which is a longer period of time than we thought we were going to be in the marketplace originally," DeLyser said.
This past winter's abundance of rain has been a blessing for avocado growers.
"The wonderful thing has been the increase in rain created very nice sizing this year on the fruit," said Jessica Hunter, vice president of production at Del Rey Avocado Co., a grower, packer and shipper in Fallbrook. "We've been able to provide larger sizes to the clients and the different retailers, meaning ultimately that's more pounds for the grower."
Wolk sees an economic advantage to the wet winter, noting that water constitutes about 75% of an avocado grower's expenses, and abundant rainfall meant growers didn't have to irrigate as often.