Anyone who has lived in coastal California knows “June Gloom.” The bane of tourism agencies up and down the coast, damp, foggy weather is common here just as summer kicks off. This weather pattern is well known to those of us who farm near the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The benign coastal influence is part of what makes Ventura County a leading location for lemons. This year its effects are particularly pronounced, and it has lingered through much of the summer.
I’m walking this morning through our orchard, and my first stop is among the young Lamb Hass avocado trees. These have been in the ground just six weeks. They have yet to see temperatures into the nineties. Much of their young lives have been spent with foggy mornings like this, and sunny afternoons in the seventies. This is wonderful weather for them to get established, as the vigorous flush of red growth at their tips makes clear.
Their older siblings sit just a few feet away. (Actually they are not siblings, but clones, all of our Lamb Hass being propagated by grafting from the same, original tree. That is a different story.) “Lambs” produce fruit later than the more common Hass, which is among the reasons we have some in our orchard. Our Hass were harvested three months ago, but the Lambs are still heavy with fruit. This cool weather has helped to hold the fruit later into the summer in hopes of higher prices. Sadly, it looks like the gamble is not going to pay off. Avocado prices have slumped in the last few weeks. They are still good by historical measures, but they are down from their highs. I suspect the recent spat of articles about high avocado prices are to blame, but whatever the cause, prices are off a bit and it is time to harvest before Chilean Hass enters the market.
Elsewhere on the farm, work is being completed on our well. Leaks in the column pipe were causing our output to drop, and while I had hoped to put off repairs until winter, the accelerating decline made it necessary to pull it over the summer. Fortunately, everything else appears to be in good shape. I’m antsy to get it back in operation again. I know we have sufficient soil moisture for a few more days, but I hate the feeling of being without water. I check the weather app again. High of just 75 once the fog clears.
This is the essence of farming. Doing your best to respond to prices and weather beyond your control.