On the guacamole beat

Here we have another case of apparent misinformation from this week's wild fires. Early reports that a third of the state's avocado crop had been lost were incorrect, according to California Avocado Commission. It turns out the fires were expected to reduce this season's crop by 10 percent, not 33 percent. But there will still be plenty of losses - and as pointed out by the San Diego Union-Tribune, farmers often buy the cheapest insurance coverage that only kicks in if an entire crop is lost. The damage doesn't just come from burned crops - it could be the result of growers being evacuated and unable to irrigate properly.

More than 90 percent of an estimated 3,000 avocado farms in San Diego and Riverside counties are family farms, most of them lived on and worked by the farmers, according to the California Avocado Commission. Many of those avocado growers are reeling from a triple whammy: a crop-killing freeze in January, this week's wildfires and a mandatory 30 percent reduction in irrigation water that takes effect in January. “They got frozen, they got burned, and come January, the water gets cut,” said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “If you made an investment in your farm and you've lost that investment, it will be a tough decision whether to reinvest again. I have no doubt there will be farmers who decide this isn't what they want to do anymore.”

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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