Large California avocado crop could last into September - The Packer

Large California avocado crop could last into September

02/20/2012 05:32:00 PM
Tom Burfield

The 2012 California avocado crop will be bigger and last longer than last year’s, grower-shippers say, and about the only downside is that lack of rain might result in slightly smaller fruit.

This year’s forecast is 400 million pounds, according to the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission. That’s up significantly from last year’s 300 million pounds. And many growers expect the total to be even higher — in the range of 415 million pounds, said Jan DeLyser, the commission’s vice president of marketing.

Tom BurfieldMike Browne (left), vice president, fresh operations, and Rob Wedin, vice president, sales and fresh marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., pay a visit to the company’s Temecula, Calif., packing facility Feb. 16. California production will be strong in April and will peak in June and July, Wedin says.The increased supply likely will mean that plenty of avocados will be available until mid-September, she said.

The early harvest was light, and supplies aren’t expected to reach significant levels until April, said Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing for West Pak Avocado Inc., Temecula, Calif.

“The fruit size is progressing nicely, and the overall quality is expected to be very good, with a low percentage of No. 2s,” he said in late February.

“The first large-scale promotion will be for Cinco de Mayo, followed by peak volume and good promotion opportunities from May through July,” he said.

Surveying other avocado sources, Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and fresh marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., said in February that production in Mexico has been stronger than predicted for more than three months as a result of a late start.

Growers made sure maturity levels were good before harvesting, he said.

Although post-Super Bowl shipments were down some, he said Mexico will continue to be strong into spring and the Cinco de Mayo period.

Chilean shipments began to decline after mid-February, but were expected to continue until late March.

Avocados also will come in from Peru this summer, said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif. But so far, demand has kept up with foreign and domestic supplies.

No single country controls the market, said Steve Taft, president and chief executive officer at Eco-Farms Corp., Temecula. If there’s a shortage from one source, other countries typically step in and fill the gap.

Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif., started harvesting some fruit in mid-January to provide avocados for customers who wanted California fruit for their Super Bowl parties, said president Dana Thomas.

As of late February, quality was good, and sizing was larger than normal. But some other shippers said sizing may be smaller than usual, especially for early fruit, because of lack of rain.

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