Avocado Farmers Worry About Drought

We are expected to consume two-billion-pounds of avocados in the United States this year. Mexico and other countries are big providers, but the California Avocado Comission says the Golden State will produce about 20% of that amount. Ventura County, California will deliver about 150-million pounds of that.

So, it may not come as a surprise that avocado farmers are concerned about the drought. Don't expect to run out of guacamole any time soon, but the drought continues that could change because farmers need and use a lot of water to make avocados and a cut in water could mean a cut in supply.

Farmer Ed McFadden, who has been farming all of his life, is hopeful we'll start getting substantial rain before the situation gets dire.

He showed us around the ranch pointing out how water is sucked up by roots of the trees. He explained that the water they use is from the ground and recycled. The tree uses what it needs and then the rest goes back into the dirt.

How much water does it take to grow a pound of avocados? About 100 gallons according to the California Avocado Comission. McFadden says a pound can be as few as two avocados.

McFadden, 58, has been farming all of his life. He tells me he is a 5th generation farmer.

He knows how dangerous the drought could be to all he has built in his life. He says, "The drought endangers everything my family's in, my investments, my future. It's a scary thing."

He uses about a million gallons of water per acre per year so, you can understand the concern. To be careful with his water he has micro sprinklers and uses electronics to test soil moisture. That way he can avoid waste.

As for the future, he says, "If we don't get a couple of wet winters our water tables will drop. It'll be more difficult to get water and we'll have to be even more careful about how much water we put on the trees."

If water tables drop, he says, that could create some serious problems.

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