The early season crop forecast of this year’s California avocado production is in. The harvest estimate is 257 million pounds of avocados, which is a slight decrease compared to the 2021-22 season crop volume of 276 million pounds.
Many factors contribute to the slight volume decline, but the ongoing drought in California avocado regions is a key factor. “There was a good deal of heat at the end of summer and into fall 2022, but most California avocado growers were fortunate not to experience extreme spikes in temperature that can be damaging to avocado trees,” says Jan DeLyser, Vice President Marketing with the California Avocado Commission (CAC). The same is true for extreme winds. There have been some very windy conditions but not enough to cause widespread damage.
“However, the recent California rainfall has been welcomed by our growers throughout all districts,” said Jeff Oberman, president of CAC. Rain helps with tree health by leeching excess salts from the soil. It also helps with overall sizing. “Growers have related increased sizing and crucial replenishing of water sources during my recent visits to all production regions,” Oberman added. However, several communities where California avocados are grown, particularly Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, it was too much rain in too short a time period. “Our hearts go out to those whose lives and properties were endangered,” said DeLyser. “To date, we have not heard of any California avocado groves that were seriously impacted. For now, we are hoping for a period of sunshine for the state to recover and for the trees to help our favorite fruit to grow,” DeLyser added.
California avocados in the rain. Credit: California Avocado Commission.
Start of harvest
Weather and market conditions will be key factors for when California avocado growers begin harvesting and some growers may delay picking to allow their avocados time to increase in size. “We do not yet know if there will be any change to the expected harvest timing, however excitement is building from our retail partners for the kick-off of the California season,” said Oberman. He noted that there likely will be some harvesting in time for the Big Game, with limited volume available for local promotions. California avocado volume is expected to begin ramping up around March, with peak availability from April through July, then tapering off through Labor Day.
The majority (243 million pounds) of the California avocado harvest is expected to be the Hass variety. The remaining forecast is Lamb Hass 7 million pounds, GEM 6 million and about 1 million from other varieties that also are being commercially grown in California.
“We are eagerly anticipating peak California avocado season in the spring and summer months with additional volume for promotions and customized marketing support.” CAC is continuing its advertising campaign “the best avocados have California in them”. Content will include helpful California avocado tips, grower spotlights and new creative videos that demonstrate just how special California avocados are. Customized retail and foodservice promotions with targeted customers are key components of California avocado marketing support, including recipe and video content for social media platforms. During the season, the Commission keeps California avocados top of mind for avocado shoppers by geotargeting consumers near stores merchandising the fruit.
The Commission’s social media program runs year-round and ramps up leading into the season. In February, activity with targeted and promoted retailer content supports the early harvest. As California avocado supply continues to increase, social efforts will gain momentum in March, with support across multiple channels.
For more information:
California Avocado Commission