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California avocado harvest kicks off

The start of the California avocado season always creates excitement as the fruit is available for a limited amount of time. "For us, California avocado harvest started this past Monday," says Hayden McIntyre, a third generation Farm Manager, overseeing avocado and citrus operations in California. For the most part, he manages avocado farms for different clients, but his company also has their own groves, operating under Sierra Pacific Farms. Harvest started in Ventura County, the largest avocado growing region for McIntyre. "Fruit set, sizing and quality in this part of the state are looking very good," he said.

Scott McIntyre and his son Hayden.

Different growing conditions
San Diego and Riverside counties follow Ventura County in terms of acreage for Sierra Pacific Farms. "While the trees look gorgeous, fruit set is relatively low this year as the trees produced so much fruit last year." The third growing region, San Luis Obispo County, was very much affected by weather. "There were problems with the setting of fruit as well as keeping the fruit on the trees as a result of high winds. In Morro Bay, there were difficulties with fruit set as a result of cool temperatures during bloom." Three different weather events in December and January had a significant impact on the development of this year's crop in San Luis Obispo County. It shows that the growing conditions in each region in California are vastly different.

The recent rains in California mostly had a positive impact on the trees and the fruit. "As a result of the rains, we don't have to irrigate or pump well water. This is a big win as during years of drought, we were sometimes forced to irrigate in January," McIntyre commented. "In addition, rains bring natural micro-nutrients that are very good for the fruit and the health of the trees." The only minor negative resulting from big rain events is erosion. "Because avocado trees mostly grow on hills and steeper slopes, intense rains sometimes displace the soil."

All in all, the volume of the California avocado crop is expected to be close to last year's volume. "As of right now, the forecast says it will be a hair over 200 million pounds," McIntyre said.

For more information:
Hayden McIntyre
Sierra Pacific Farms
Tel: 951-699-9980