Now that July is here, we wake up to bright sunshine most days. The “May Gray” and “June Gloom” have passed, and we can look forward to summer heat that crowds our local beaches, but keeps The Farmer close to home so he can irrigate the trees. The pretty spring wild flowers are gone now, replaced by tall weeds that go to seed and turn brown in the scorching sun. There is little chance of rain now. Soon the only green left on our hills will be the avocado and citrus trees. During summer months we we are busy with California avocado harvest!
The first sound in the morning is the clanking of metal on metal, as workers move their ladders from tree to tree so they can pick the mature avocados. Some of the trees have grown very tall, so it takes an experienced picker to climb up the ladder with a picking bag over his shoulder and a picking pole to reach the fruit that grows high up in the canopy. The shorter, rounder trees are easier to harvest, as the fruit grows closest to the sun.
The days are long in the summertime, with everyone working to bring in the crop: the pickers, the farmers, the truck drivers, and the packing house workers. The harvested avocados are collected into plastic bins that can hold as much as 850 lbs. each. The bins are moved from the grove with a forklift or jeep. Later in the afternoon or evening, the big truck from the packing house arrives. Each bin of avocados is noted on a “ticket” so that the fruit can be tracked through the weighing, sorting and packing process. The packing houses package and broker the fruit to retailers, restaurants, food service providers, etc. Those mesh bags of avocados that you find in Costco might have come from our ranch!
The Farmer has to irrigate the trees around the schedule of the pickers, so that the area won’t be wet when they are ready to work. After the crew is finished harvesting in an area of the ranch, every irrigation sprinkler and water line must be checked to make sure that any damage that might have occurred during the picking can be repaired before it’s time to water those trees again. Avocado farmers get plenty of exercise, hiking up and down hills, inspecting each tree.
When I take a walk around the ranch during the summer, I don’t do it during the heat of the day. The early morning and late evening hours are the nicest for being outside, since the air is cooler without the searing sun. Songbirds before sunrise… rustling of dry leaves as lizards skittle in the grove…hawks circling high above the trees…packs of young coyotes yipping in the evening…and gorgeous sunsets.
While the rest of the world is traveling or on vacation, California avocado growers are reaping the result of their hard work and investment. As the fruit comes in, they are watching and hoping that the market price will cover the costs of growing this crop, pay the expenses for the new crop that is already sizing up on the trees for next year, and provide income for their families too. The conversation at the end of the day: “We picked some beautiful fruit today!” “Yes, the pickers found some gorgeous avocados today…nice sizes too!”
All the work throughout the year to keep the grove healthy and produce top quality avocados pays off when we know that we’re sending fruit to market that will be full of flavor and provide a wonderful eating experience for avocado lovers all over the United States. When you enjoy a California avocado, remember that lots of love went into growing, harvesting and sending it to you. How do you know you’re buying a California avocado? Look for the sticker on the fruit!
Can’t find California avocados? Check out California Avocados Direct, our gift box and subscription service. Even though the official season for California avocados is during spring and summer, we ship select avocados throughout the calendar year to households all over the USA, and sometimes even to Canada and Europe. The fruit that goes into these boxes is specially selected and picked to order. When we pack each box, we know that the recipient will be enjoying the very same top-quality fruit that our family uses every day. It’s exciting to see where the boxes are going: birthday gifts, hospitality gifts, hotel promotions, boxes for families to share, and subscriptions for people who love great avocados or have special dietary restrictions. We think of our customers as an extension of our family.
Stay tuned for Reed variety avocados…shown in the corners of this box. They look like large round balls, compared to the pear-shaped Hass variety. Very creamy and full of flavor, rarely found in stores. Have you ever tried a Reed?