U.S.: No impact on avocados, citrus from California wildfires

August 09 , 2018

California grower associations for citrus, blueberries and avocados say there have not yet been any impacts from what are among the most serious wildfires in the state’s history.

The Mendocino Complex fire has already engulfed around 300,000 acres, and barely a third of it is under control, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire was declared the biggest in California’s history on Monday and is expected to burn for the rest of the month.

In a statement sent to Fresh Fruit Portal, California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen said the fires were far away from citrus production.

California Avocado Commission president Tom Bellamore also said that avocado production was not in affected areas.

“Thus far, the various fires that are taking place in California are not in close proximity to avocado groves,” Bellamore said.

“With the continued hot weather, anything could happen. We are all closely monitoring the weather, its effects, and progress on the fires across the state.”

Lemons and avocados were the two most heavily affected fruit crops from the wildfires that struck the state late last year.

Todd Sanders, executive director of the California Apple Commission, the California Blueberry Commission and the California Olive Committee, also said that none of those crops has been impacted.

“The blueberry harvest for California finished mid-June and most of the handlers are not in the areas directly affected by the fires,” he said.

“The apple harvest is just ramping up with full production expected by mid-August. Since most of the fires are concentrated in the National Forest area, apple production is not expected to be affected as most apple production is found in the Central Valley.”

Ian LeMay, director of member relations and communications at the California Fresh Fruit Association, said that to this point, the only direct impacts that the organization’s members have dealt with have been in the area of Lake County, which is dealing with the Mendocino Complex Fire.

“The fire came very close to one of our members packing sheds but thanks to the diligent work of California firefighters, the facility was protected,” he said.

“Growers in the central portion of the state have not seen any direct impacts to fruit, but are monitoring the bad air quality via the Air Quality Index (AQI).”

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  1. Jim says:

    That’s a real relief to hear given that the US citrus exports have been tanking lately; a steady 27.77% decrease in exports in the past 5 years (according to https://www.tridge.com/hs-codes/080520-mandarin-clementine-citrus-hybrids-fresh-or-dried/US/export).