After lunch, our farm tour continued as we drove north toward the Coachella Valley and headed out to an area off the main road to meet Dennis Jensen of Sea View Ranches. We wondered where we might end up, as the sandy road was rough and bumpy. We passed undeveloped land and a field that was being newly developed for planting… with irrigation pipe, materials for drainage, and large construction equipment working the sandy desert soil. We met Dennis at one of the ranches he supervises, where he Continue reading
When we enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, we may think about where they came from or how they were grown but we rarely think about the water that was used to grow that food. Last weekend I was part of a blogger farm tour in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys of Southern California as the guest of the California Farm Water Coalition. We all know how important water is for our bodies. The truth is that water is essential for all of life. Without water, farmers cannot Continue reading
The hottest time of the year has come to Southern California. We can normally expect temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s in late August and early September. I like to get up extra early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise, and take a swim before the heat gets to be overbearing. The Farmer has to stay on top of irrigating during this heat. If the trees don’t have enough water they will begin to absorb salts from the soil, turning the leaves brown. It’s crucial that the trees have water so they will hold the young avocados that are growing for next year. Just as the harvest of this year’s crop is winding down, the hottest weather arrives to keep farmers on their toes.
In the last several weeks we have had thunder storms, with lightning that looked just like this photo, and even some rain! It’s very unusual to get any rain during the summer months. When .25 inches of rain fell last weekend, we were surprised! Rain makes The Farmer really happy, because it washes the dust off the leaves of the trees (helping with transpiration). We didn’t get enough rain to make any difference in the irrigation schedule though. Even when we have unusually humid weather, The Farmer follows multiple weather reports, trying to keep the trees well irrigated to stay ahead of the hottest weather that can happen without much warning. He doesn’t get to leave the ranch very often, working every day of the week and sometimes at night too.
The sunsets during this hot time of year are spectacular. This one happened about two weeks ago. The humid weather gave us clouds, which added to the beauty of sunset.
Yesterday our weather turned very hot and dry, which is normal for September in southern California. 108 degrees at the ranch and 98 degrees over on the coast! We had a breeze too, which makes everyone nervous. If a wild fire starts during this heat, the wind can whip it up quickly. We keep watching for smoke in our area…if a fire starts, we want to know about it! Usually we hear the planes and helicopters overhead when there is a fire nearby. A hillside next to the freeway caught fire yesterday, not far from us. The fire trucks were still there today, making sure there were no sparks left to restart the fire.
Last night’s sunset was beautiful, but not due to clouds. A fire at Camp Pendleton, where the Marines train, created smoke on the coast, so our sunset was more beautiful due to that smoke.
What about the avocado trees? Do they wilt during this brutal heat? We hope not! The Farmer has been taking the best care of the trees consistently, so they will be able to withstand a few days of scorching heat. Avocado trees that have not been getting enough water can drop all their fruit and the leaves can turn brown or fall off, leaving avocados that might survive exposed to the sun. The trees can be so stressed that it takes them a long time to recover. This is why The Farmer is so meticulous about his irrigation and grove care. The care that we give our trees today affects the avocados for at least three years! This hot weather could cause the mature avocados to drop, and the baby avocados that are growing for next year could drop too! The trees could be so stressed that they might not bloom in the spring, so we could have no crop the following year either.
Now you know why I try so hard to understand when The Farmer often says, “Sorry, can’t go out with you…need to stay home and irrigate.” Friends who ask, “How’s The Farmer?” may misunderstand my answer… I said, “He’s irrigating”….not “He’s irritating!”
I have shown you photos of the trees throughout the year… during the cool winter rains and the beautiful springtime when the trees were blooming...and the harvesting in July! Are you curious about how the trees look today, when it’s scorching hot? Well, I went out there and took some photos for you…almost melted too! Believe me when I say that it’s HOT. This is not the cool fall weather I knew in Vermont…this feels like the scorching desert! When the weather turns this hot, most people do not spend any time outside unless they can get to the beach…but the farmers are still out there, taking good care of those trees!
I walked over to the left side of the road and looked up into the trees…knowing that you are going to want to check on the avocados! Here are some! Still growing!
Keep looking for those California avocados in the stores! The harvest season in California will soon be finished until next year’s crop is ready to pick … in 2013!