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California Avocado Season Off To A Late Start

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The California avocado season is experiencing unique circumstances this year. The season is off to a late start and is expected to end early. To give you a frame of reference, last year the season started in January and this year the first organic California avocados landed at Earl’s the beginning of March.  The southern California region, think San Diego County, is estimated to be done harvesting by June. The northern California region, think Morro Bay, will start up in late summer and go into early Fall depending on how growers manage their supply.

Overall volume will also be smaller this year. The current California avocado season is predicted to be approximately half the size of last year with an estimated total harvest of 175 million pounds with 8% (14 million pounds) grown organically.  This dramatic decrease in volume is due partially to this being an alternate bearing year, but primarily to a record-setting heat wave last summer where avocado growing regions across Southern California saw temperatures between 118-122 degrees for a two-day period.  This intense heat destroyed much of the young fruit set that would grow into the 2019 crop.  We have heard from several small California growers reporting total crop failures for the season.

How Will California Avocado Growers Handle Their Crop This Year?

It will be hard to forecast volume and pricing this year. The growers that do have fruit are monitoring their trees and have to decide how to maximize their return. On one hand there will be growers that have a very limited crop. They may decide to hold fruit on the tree longer and pick in a fashion in order to maximize their inventory and return. Then there will be growers that have good supply and will have an opportunity this year to get top dollar for their crop. 

The good news is that we will be providing California avocados for the duration of the season. We just don’t know how long that will be.  We just ripened our first arrival of fruit from San Diego County this week and these California avocados are truly delicious!

Mexican Avocado Crop

The Mexican avocado season is well into the ‘Normal’ season.  All avocados imported into the U.S. from Mexico are grown in the mountainous state of Michoacán.  With an ideal combination of rich, volcanic soil, abundant sunshine and well-timed rainfall, Michoacán is one of the few places in the world where avocados can be grown year-round.  Furthermore, there are four seasons or blooms associated with the Mexican crop; Flora Loca, Aventajada, Normal and Marzena.  Flora Loca avocados are picked June-September and Aventajada is from July-October.  Normal represents the majority of production with harvest from September thru February while Marzena is March to June.  The Normal & Marzena fruit has increased dry matter content.  Dry matter, defined as the part of food that would remain if all of its water content were removed, is assessed to determine maturity, ripening behavior and flavor.  The higher the dry matter the faster the fruit ripens and shelf life decreases.  Also, higher percentage of dry matter relates to higher oil content and buttery flavor and mouthfeel.  We will carry Equal Exchange, Fair Trade Mexican avocados for the next few weeks until the California season hits its early stride.

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