The Golden State’s weather has been a real bastard lately, baking Southern Californians in temperatures as high as 122 degrees for more than a week now. The oven-esque conditions obviously take the blame for many sweaty backsides, but that region is also home to 90 percent of America’s avocados. Heat is a total menace to the nation’s darling green fruits, so it’s easy to figure the consequences. From today’s L.A. Times:
Growers in Fallbrook, De Luz and Temecula reported record temperatures between 110 and 117 degrees, as well as 30-mile per hour winds – a potentially devastating combination for avocado groves planted in sandy soil where the fierce winds can wick away moisture faster than the trees can absorb it.
The story warns of ramifications to people’s Fourth of July guacamole-eating abilities, but given the facts here, the effects on festive dippage sort of sound like the least of everybody’s worries: These avocado farmers — a group already super-screwed by their state’s world-historic drought — are reporting that large sectors of their groves got shriveled and scorched. Some lost as many as a sixth of all their trees, while others note (somewhat apologetically) that most of what they’re sending to market in the coming days will be dropped fruit. So the biggest effect, then, may be on next year’s crop. In fact, the most optimistic farmer quoted by the Times says damages take a while to “manifest themselves,” so he’s “uncertain if there is a loss or not to next year’s crop.”
For the others, the picture gets pretty bleak:
Jeanne Davis of Coyote Growers was nearing the end of her Hass season when temperatures climbed up to 113 degrees on her 6-acre Fallbrook orchard. While the blast may not affect this year’s farmers market sales, she is concerned about next year. “We’ve been here for 25 years, and this has never happened before,” she says. “There will probably be a minimal amount of avocados for next year because we think that some of the flowers didn’t make it.”
Time to panic.