Inland Empire Agriculture Hit Hard by Wind Storm

Agriculture is a multi-million dollar industry in the Inland Empire, and avocado and citrus growers have a lot to lose.

By Craig Fiegener and Julie Brayton
|  Monday, Dec 5, 2011  |  Updated 6:36 PM PDT
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Agriculture is a multi-million dollar industry in the Inland Empire, and avocado and citrus growers have a lot to lose.

Craig Fiegener, Hernan Vazquez

Agriculture is a multi-million dollar industry in the Inland Empire, and avocado and citrus growers have a lot to lose.

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Citrus and avocado farmers face serious problems when Southern California is hit by prolonged-dry wind.

The low humidity weakens trees and the wind knocks down fruit that would otherwise stay on the tree for harvest.

Think it's not a big deal? Consider the price of avocados.

During a slim avocado season each one can sell for $2.50 each. An avocado that falls to the ground, unripened, is literally money lost for growers.

Avocado trees are most prominent in Fallbrook, however several-thousand acres are grown in Riverside County.

Citrus trees face the same threat says Peggy Mauk, Ph. D., Director of Agricultural Operations at UC Riverside.

"The plant starts making choices where the water needs to go, and the fruit, they're already getting close to maturity, they'll go ahead and drop," according to Mauk.

California produces a larger avocado crop than any other state, "especially Haas avocados," says Mauk. A prolonged-and-dry wind will damage trees and fruit.

If guacamole seems extra expensive come Super Bowl Sunday it will because of the dry windy weather during the past several days.

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