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Triple Whammy Hits County Avocado Growers

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

State officials say California's avocado crop could be the worst in 20 years and maybe the smallest in state history. As KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce tells us, San Diego County growers are especially hard hit. 

Weather, irrigation water cutbacks and wildfires have taken their toll on the county's avocado crop.

The harvest doesn't start until mid-February, but warmer temperatures when the trees were flowering last spring damaged many plants.

San Diego County Farm Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson says it's hard to quantify the exact economic impact from the smaller crop.

But less money in the hands of growers will send ripples throughout the county.

Larson: The growers sell that fruit, but when they sell that fruit they pay for transportation, they pay for workers, they pay for fertilizer, they pay the packing houses. It's just that much less money that's going to be here to circulate.

Larson says less fruit to pick means fewer workers will have jobs.

He says the economic impact will be especially noticeable in Valley Center and Fallbrook where much of the avocado crop is grown.

Larson says growers are seeing smaller avocado sizes and some trees have no fruit at all.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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