This is Avocado Country
By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
Avocados are one of California’s signature crops. Though only five California counties have significant acreage, the state produces over 90% of the nation’s avocados.
Hard to grow, sensitive to extreme weather and to a variety of pests, acreage is largely limited to San Diego, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, with San Diego County historically producing the most.
Since thriving, well irrigated avocado groves and row crops can help hinder the spread of wildfires, I am currently working in the Legislature on changes to state regulations, including CEQA streamlining, to facilitate the delivery of more irrigation water to groves, allowing them to remain green and productive. Locally, many growers have been forced to abandon their groves, becoming unsightly stumps and fire tinder due to escalating water costs. Replanting groves at higher densities to save water and increase production can cost thousands of dollars per acre, which the smaller growers can’t afford. As a result, productive avocado acreage is decreasing, including high fire risk areas like Fallbrook, Bonsall, Temecula and Valley Center.
Water salinity is another problem. We are importing more water from the Colorado River, which has a higher salt content than northern-sourced water. Since too much salt harms trees, Colorado River water is blended with less salty northern water at Lake Skinner, but northern water supplies to our region can be severely limited during droughts.
Bipartisan legislation (Adrin Nazarian D – Sherman Oaks and I ) to bring reclaimed water to farmlands to allow reverse osmosis water to reduce salinity for groves is a continuing effort, along with increasing surface water storage in our region.
Despite these challenges, the nation’s avocado appetite is growing. I will do everything I can to ensure that our region and state continue to be major suppliers of this unique fruit.
Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.