Why Avocado Farmers Love Rain
Southern California is famous for it’s glorious weather, and many people move here for the sunshine. I must admit that I moved to California after a particularly difficult winter in the northeast in 1977. It was such a luxury to see flowers in the winter, be able to schedule picnics without worrying about the weather, and to go without boots, heavy coats, and shoveling show. I didn’t care if it ever rained at all ….until I married an avocado farmer.
I quickly learned that the only time an avocado farmer can take time off from work is when it rains. Beautiful rain that falls gently, sprinkles the groves with enough water to soak in so the roots can take up that glorious clean water. Rain that leaches the salts out of the soil and cleans months of dust off the leaves of the trees is always welcome. Sometimes we have gully-washers too, and that requires “getting ready for the rain”: cleaning off the grove roads so that leaves don’t clog up the drains, and making sure that the water has a place to go without causing too much erosion damage. There is only so much we can do, because wind can knock the fruit off the trees and too much rain can cause shallow rooted avocado trees to fall over. For the most part though, we just love rain.
One thing that I really miss about living in Vermont where I grew up is the wild flowers. There are wild flowers that come up while the snow is still melting, and wild flowers that follow throughout the spring. If you know your wild flowers, you don’t even need a calendar, because you can tell what month it is by which flowers are blooming. I spent so much time in the woods and out in the fields around our house that I knew these things. When I moved to Los Angeles it was hot in summer and wet in winter.
Everything changed when I married The Farmer and moved to the avocado ranch.
Water is expensive and sometimes in short supply. When it rains, the trees get their water for free! Nobody has to go out and turn valves, nobody has to monitor the grove to make sure every tree gets water, and the water bills will be much lower, leaving the possibility for the ranch to make a profit when the avocados are mature and can be sold, if the prices are high enough. We do have to measure the rain, so that we know how much rain has fallen. “Did you check the rain gauge?” “How much rain did you get?”
This year we have had plenty of rain. Not only did we have the gift of water for our trees, but The Farmer had time to recover from the flu with minimal work required during those rainy weeks. (Farmers are not supposed to get sick.). I’m happy about all those things, but the most exciting result of the rains for me is the color!
Green hillsides and spectacular wild flowers all over the ranch. Wild flowers that are native, and wild flowers that grow from seeds mixes that I buy at Lowe’s. Flowers everywhere!
Wildflowers on the Ranch
After the first wild flowers finish blooming, the fruit trees begin to bloom! Tangerines get sweeter in the spring sunshine.
Mulberries begin to ripen in May.
Sharing the Springtime with Friends
I love sharing the beauty of springtime with friends, especially the ones who truly love nature and are interested in how plants grow, how flowers turn into fruit, and how the avocado trees provide shade for the baby fruit all year until they can be harvested next season.
The trees that flowered last year and were pollinated, survived the hot summer day last July when we had 115 degrees, held onto the tree through high winds in winter, and thrived on the nutrition and water provided by The Farmer are mature and ready to harvest now! The Hass avocados are so tasty, and in late June the Reed avocados will be ready too.
Planting New Avocado Trees
We have planted some baby trees during the last couple of years, with varieties that we’ve never tried before like Nabal, Santana, Carmen, and Gem.
The first of the baby avocados are just beginning to appear now. They’re so tiny .. like BB’s … and by this time next year they’ll be ready for harvest. We never know how many babies will set, how many of those will grow to maturity, and how many of those can actually be harvested and sold. The rain really helps out, and we’re grateful for all the wonderful rain we received this year!
Happy Mother’s Day to all! We’re enjoying guacamole with our lunch today! Hope you are too!
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