Avocado farmers struggling through drought - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Avocado farmers struggling through drought

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Severe drought continues throughout the state and avocado farms are being hit especially hard.

"This ranch right here, this is one story in thousands that's having hard times," said farmer Alan Cavaletto of Morro Creek Ranch. "We are in survivor mode and doing the best we can with it."

Last year, we spoke to Cavaletto after he stumped 190 acres of trees due to the drought. This year, only 32 of those acres are currently producing. Although stumping is common practice, this many acres of it is almost unheard of.

"To the extent we did it, it is unheard of. Drastic times call for drastic measures," said Cavaletto.

Since irrigation water isn't the best for the stumps because it builds up salt, Cavaletto is anticipating the rain this season will bring in an additional 55 acres of producing trees in 2017.

"Hopefully mother nature sees it that she'll provide the water this year and hopefully for the following years,'' added Cavaletto.

However, if the rain doesn't come, the stumps may not produce, potentially leaving the farm in a financially dangerous position.  

"Whether it's a fruit or vegetable farmer, all farmers are trying. We are trying to do the best we can with the situation we are all in and it's tough," said Cavaletto.

Although there's a potential the farm could be left dry from lack of rain, Cavaletto says the farming lifestyle is always a gamble and his father, who was also a farmer, used to explain the job as such.

"You have better odds in Vegas, that was his way of talking about things. But you know what? I would still rather be here doing this than be betting in Vegas. If farming was easy, everyone would be doing it," said Cavaletto.

The price of avocados from local growers has not gone up this season due to larger nationwide avocado growers keeping the price steady. However, Cavaletto said it will take a few good seasons of rain to repair the damage left from the many years of drought.

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