Avocado Grove Tour in January: This is Winter?

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old avocado groveMeet Leslie,  a long lost friend from Vermont who stopped by to see us with her husband last week as part of their road trip around the United States.  When we first reconnected through Facebook,  Leslie mentioned that someday she would love to take an avocado grove tour to see how avocados grow…and last weekend her wish came true!   These are tall, older trees with fruit that grows high above the ground in the canopy…I like to call this our “enchanted forest”!

avocado growers and guestsWho could have imagined when we were growing up in  central Vermont that someday we would have technology to allow us to reconnect,  sowing seeds of friendship as married couples with grown children?    Considering that we were among the last students to use slide-rules in high school math classes, and were excited to have electronic adding machines in our college classrooms,  the capabilities that we have now through the internet seem miraculous  to us.

The Farmer with Leslie and LeoAs we walked through the acres of avocado trees, the warm sunny weather that made our time so enjoyable was contributing to the  drought conditions due to a lack of seasonal rains.  California depends on winter rains between December and March every year.   January is supposed to be cool, cloudy, and  wet.   Instead the unrelenting sunshine  has confused the plants and trees with temperatures we would expect in April and May.  Farmers have had no down time since the harvest because there is no rain,  and must continue to irrigate their trees with expensive water that is in short supply.

saltWithout rains to leach the soil,   salt builds up in the soil around the trees….you can see the white salty precipitate on top of the ground.   If the trees do not get water when they need it,  the salt is taken up into the tree through the roots and the leave will turn brown.  This is called “Tip Burn”…some varieties of avocado trees are more prone to salt damage than others, but all trees can be damaged if they are not watered enough.  During this warm, dry weather it is important to keep the trees  irrigated and healthy so they will hold the crop of avocados that will be harvested later in the spring.  They need to  bloom in the next several months to set next year’s crop.

irrigation

Each tree has its own sprinkler, and the dry leaves that have fallen from the tree make a thick mulch to hold in the moisture around the tree.  Without water the trees can be stressed,  drop all their fruit and not be able to set a good crop for the next year.   This is why farmers must work around the clock to make sure the trees get the correct amount of water.   Even with irrigation,  the trees need those winter rains to leach the salts from the soil.  It is very expensive to use irrigation water for leaching,  which can destroy the  profitability of the farm.

picking avocadosWe had a great time picking some Fuerte avocados with Leslie and Leo.  They learned out to use the picking pole to clip an avocado from the high branches of the trees.   These Fuerte trees have very brown leaves due to the dry weather and the salt that has built up in the soil without rain to leach it clean.  Fuerte avocados cannot take the salt as well as other varieties.  It makes us sad to see the brown tip-burned leaves are on these trees.

avocado bloomSome of the trees are trying to bloom already too!  Here are some beautiful flowers from the Fuerte trees.  Did you know that an avocado flower can be male on one day and female the next?  True story! Learn more here: Where Do Baby Avocados Come From?

avocado trees regrownWe explained about stumping the trees too.These older trees were almost 50 feet tall,  but  we cut them down  to let them regrow .  The shorter trees produce fruit that is easier to pick and more cost effective to grow.  The tree on the left has been re-growing for two years, and the one on the right has been re-growing for one year.  Learn more here:  Why We Cut Down The Avocado Trees They Regrow!

wild peony

 

I was eager to show Leslie the wild peonies that grow in a meadow on the ranch, but I wasn’t sure we would find any in bloom.  The warm weather has accelerated the growth of the wild plants too.   We found several wild peony plants with  flowers that were already going to seed.

wild flowers in spring So. California

We found other wild flowers in bloom as well!    From left,  wild lupine,  bright colored “freeway flowers”   and miner’s lettuce, an edible plant.

Fuerte Avocado

Our friends Leslie and Leo had not tasted Fuerte avocados, so we gave them some that will take a week or longer to soften before they will be ready to eat.  The skin of the Fuerte avocados is thinner than the Hass avocados they usually find in stores in Vermont.  The flavor is nuttier too…and the skin will peel off of the fruit perfectly.   As we were sharing information about growing avocados,  Leo told us about his experience with making maple syrup from the sap of Vermont maple trees.   He even gave us some Vermont maple syrup that he made himself!

maple syrup from Vermont

We had a wonderful time sharing our stories, and promised to visit Leslie and Leo in Vermont.  We’re looking forward to their next trip to California too!   Instead of being sad in our  “empty nest” now that our children are grown,  we’ll anticipate more wonderful times with friends old and new!

 

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. What a nice visit with friends, and so interesting about the avocado growing details!
    Kathryn @ Mamacado recently posted..Fantasy Superbowl Party Menu: Dairy-free and Food Allergy FriendlyMy Profile

  2. Doing my rain dance for all of us and our gardens – how fun for you to have your friends visit. And I will bet that maple syrup is wonderful…
    lizthechef recently posted..Mama’s Wet Bottom Shoo-Fly PieMy Profile

  3. All I have to say is that I am a little jealous…

    I’ve never seen an avocado plant in real life and it’s below freezing where I live right now!

  4. It sounds like you had a nice visit. I’ve never seen an avocado tree before. They’re lovely!

  5. This is so interesting. I hope this past weather has not been too much rain all at once.

    I’m dropping by from the SITS Girls comment love activity.
    Nicki recently posted..MovementMy Profile

  6. This was fascinating. Avocados are quite possibly my favorite fruit, and I apparently know nothing about how they’re grown! I had no idea about rain needing to leach the soil. Thank you for the info… now I’m off to read how baby avocados are made… 😉
    Miranda recently posted..The Road to Morocco, Part Khamssa: Maddening, Mystifying MarrakechMy Profile

  7. How cool – I’ve never seem images of an avocado farm, it looks quite beautiful. That’s interesting about the salt around the trees. I love avocados but unfortunately am allergic. :)
    Nicole Beard recently posted..Happy Valentine’s Day Hand-Print CraftMy Profile

  8. Your avocado tour looks fun! I love to be outdoors & this would be a perfect relaxed weekend activity. I’ve never really used avocados in any recipes. I know they are very healthy so maybe I’ll try the recipe in your previous post one day.

  9. Before I turned 10 I used to live in a house close to an avocado tree. There were never avocados on our backyard, but we fantasized a lot of the day we found one. What an awesome experience to have a hidden forest full of them.
    Nadia @ Mama and the City recently posted..3 Things That Help Me Deal With EczemaMy Profile

  10. This was fun to read and your pictures are beautiful!! I’ve only tried avocados once but should try again! (from a SITS girl!)

  11. Wow! Thanks for the info – I love avocados, I’ve never really thought about how tey are grown :)
    Noel Giger recently posted..Reinventing YourselfMy Profile

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