Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
Special to Village News 

This is avocado country

 

Last updated 8/31/2018 at 2:09pm



Avocados are one of California’s signature crops. Though only five California counties have significant acreage, the state produces over 90 percent of the nation’s avocados.

Hard to grow, sensitive to extreme weather and to a variety of pests, acreage is largely limited to San Diego, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, with San Diego County historically producing the most.

Since thriving, well-irrigated avocado groves and row crops can help hinder the spread of wildfires, I am currently working in the legislature on changes to state regulations, including CEQA streamlining, to facilitate the delivery of more irrigation water to groves, allowing them to remain green and productive.

Locally, many growers have been forced to abandon their groves, becoming unsightly stumps and fire tinder due to escalating water costs. Replanting groves at higher densities to save water and increase production can cost thousands of dollars per acre, which the smaller growers can’t afford. As a result, productive avocado acreage is decreasing, including in high fire risk areas like Fallbrook, Bonsall, Temecula and Valley Center.

Water salinity is another problem. The county is importing more water from the Colorado River, which has a higher salt content than northern-sourced water. Since too much salt harms trees, Colorado River water is blended with less salty northern water at Lake Skinner, but northern water supplies to the region can be severely limited during droughts.

Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks, and I continue to work on bipartisan legislation to bring reclaimed water to farmlands to allow reverse osmosis water to reduce salinity for groves, along with increasing surface water storage in the region.

Despite these challenges, the nation’s avocado appetite is growing. I will do everything I can to ensure that the region and state continue to be major suppliers of this unique fruit.

 

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