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McGrath Family

August 14, 2014 Comments Off on Story Of The Avocado Views: 506 Economics, Environment

Story Of The Avocado

Avocado on the tree

Avocado on the tree

Avocado trees were first planted in Ventura County in 1871. During the next one-hundred years, avocado growers here and throughout the world planted avocado seed and grafted the resulting seedlings with clippings from avocado trees known to have good fruit.

Legendary Beginnings

Our family has been growing avocados for more than 50 years. The trees tend to be alternate bearing and the 2013 crop year was one for the record books in terms of production. The weather was perfect during the spring 2012 bloom period and the trees set an enormous crop. They can’t do that year after year so the 2014 crop is a fraction of last year’s as the trees recover. Avocados are delicious and packed with nutritional value, and the orchards are magnificent. We’re fortunate to be growers and take pride in providing this healthful product to consumers the world over.

– Link Leavens, Grower

Family Roots

The Cole family grows 700 acres of avocados in Ventura County and plans on doubling the acreage in the next five years. As one of the largest avocado producers in Ventura County, I’ve often been asked why I chose to grow avocados. The reason is simple; avocados love the climate in Ventura County. Just give them water and fertilizer and they take care of themselves. It is nice to grow something that is so healthy and such a great food value for the consumer.

– Lee Cole, Grower

Preserving the Legacy

I would never farm without being GAP certified…it truly is the only way to say that we produce the best and most safe, wholesome, and nutritious avocados and lemons that we can. It is our guarantee to the ultimate buyer, whether they be here in Ventura County, or across the United States in New York City, or even overseas. Yes, the record keeping is detailed, but once you are in the habit of daily recording each irrigation, fertilizer, pesticide application (which is required anyway), general sanitation, and documented training procedures, it becomes just second nature. Our harvesting crews from our labor contractor, Coastal Harvesting, are also annually GAP Certified for harvesting practices…The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program is absolutely essential and mandatory for me.

– Bob Pinkerton, Grower

In recent years, avocado acreage has increased in Ventura County. I believe this trend will continue based on Ventura County’s favorable conditions and the opportunity to increase the market. We need to learn more about looming threats like Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer and take appropriate steps to protect the trees…This pest-host-disease complex has not been detected in Ventura County. However, it has been found in neighboring Los Angeles County.

– Henry Gonzales, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner

Experience and Innovation

Calavo’s packinghouse at 655 W. Main St in Santa Paula was established in 1955 and currently packs over one million pounds of avocados daily during peak season. Calavo markets and sells avocados for over 500 Ventura County producers. Calavo’s Value Added Depot at 15765 W. Telegraph Rd in Santa Paula was built in 1975 as an avocado processing facility. In 2005 it was renovated as a fresh avocado shipping and ripening facility, currently shipping over two hundred million pounds and ripening over eighty million pounds annually. Calavo moved its corporate headquarters from Orange County in 2004 to the Limoneira Ranch at 1141 Cummings Rd., Santa Paula, and has over 400 hundred employees in Ventura County. With steadily increasing avocado demand, consumption and value, there is a great opportunity for Ventura County growers due to our excellent growing conditions and local quality.

– Calavo Growers, Inc.

Looking to the Future

Avocado demand worldwide continues to grow. In the US and Canada, the demand has grown at 10% compounded annually for the last 14 years, and there is still room to grow. Ventura County is a key to the California industry, with a good climate and soil conditions. Water supply could be suspect if we don’t get a wet winter, however.

– Mission Produce

According to statistics compiled by the California Avocado Commission, Ventura County continues to contribute significantly to the annual production of the California avocado crop. This past year, the Commission’s Board of Directors acknowledged the importance of northern growers and the role they will play in the future of the industry by establishing a Commission field office in Santa Paula. The Commission also entered into a long-term ground lease with California Polytechnic State University for 11 acres of the historic Pine Tree Ranch in Santa Paula for use as a demonstration grove. Several field days have already taken place on site and 9 of the 11 acres are presently being planted in accordance with a development plan approved by the Commission Board for growers across the state.

– Ed McFadden, Chair, California Avocado Commission

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