Water shortage dampens some California growers’ prospects

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

California avocado growers produced a crop of about 315 million pounds, even though water is becoming a scarce and expensive commodity.

A three-year drought has brought on massive conservation efforts across the state, with Gov. Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency in January.

Water conservation efforts by a majority of water suppliers in California show that water use declined statewide by 5% through May 2014, according to survey results received by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The state’s 315 million-pound avocado volume may not be reached next year if the dry conditions persist, some marketers said.

“We have seen some stumping of trees in California for water conservation, but the near term impacts are minimal compared to the long term concern for continued drought conditions,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine.

Stumping involves cutting tree branches that have water-sapping foliage. The practice doesn’t kill a tree, but it takes it out of production, marketers note.

There is some reason to hope for relief, DeLyser said.

“We join those who are hopeful that the forecasts for an El Niño system will bring much needed moisture to the region,” she said.

DeLyser also said the commission is continuing to take grower water concerns to state officials and district water personnel.

Evidence of the drought will be apparent at the end of the 2014 California crop, said David Fausset, salesman/category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.

“California will play only a small role in September, as a lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures have increased maturity levels,” he said.

He noted that the 315 million-pound state volume followed back-to-back years with totals of 500 million and 470 million pounds.

More emergency water plans were due to be rolled out across the state at the end of July, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.

“Some people say this is the third year of the drought; it’s at least the second and it’s getting pretty darn serious,” he said.

However, Wedin said, there is water for next year for avocado crops.

“What it’s going to cost isn’t quite clear yet,” Wedin said.

He said an El Niño would resolve a lot of worries.

“Some people say there is a 70% chance of an El Niño, and that means a lot of rain; if we don’t get rain this winter, things are just going to go to a whole different level,” he said.

The severity of the water shortage can vary from orchard to orchard, said Dana Thomas, president of Riverside, Calif.-based grower-shipper Index Fresh Inc.

Those variances also affect grower responses, he said.

“Some are picking early and getting the fruit off the trees to keep the tree healthy and allow next year’s set to come; others might have accelerated harvest a little but did their normal size picking throughout the season,” he said.

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (1) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Douglas Speed Sr    
Florida  |  August, 18, 2014 at 05:44 PM

Over the past ten years we have helped growers survive periods of drought using microorganisms that produce water. This information including university studies and in the field results has been sent to all levels of organizations in CA including the governor, the universities and various grower associations. The results - zero replies. So my friends live with your problems

Blend and Bulk Tower Systems

Waconia Towers provide speed, efficiency and reliability that only gravity-fed systems can offer. Towers are available with up to 300 ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form