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Articles

Scorched! Area’s avocado crop, trees impacted by July heatwave

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Ojai Valley News photo by Perry Van Houten

A Haas avocado, that would have been part of next year’s crop, hangs withered on one of Roger Essex’s trees.

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter
Avocado grower Roger Essick has been farming in the Ojai Valley for more than 40 years, but he's never seen the kind of crop damage caused by a record-setting heatwave in early July.
The 114 recorded by the National Weather Service July 6, followed the next day by a high of 115, scorched leaves and shriveled fruit on Essick's 26 acres in the East End.
“It's Ojai, so you get hot. But I've never seen this kind of damage to the avocados before,” he said.
According to U.S. Forest Service botanist Lloyd Simpson, even native trees such as oaks and sycamores were scorched in the blistering heat and have begun to drop their leaves.
Avocados, especially the Hass variety that Essick primarily grows, do best by the coast and prefer a temperature no hotter than 90.
“In this case, we were 90 by 8 o'clock in the morning and we were 100 or over for probably 10 or 12 hours, two days in a row,” Essick said.

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Ojai Valley News photo by Perry Van Houten

Some of this year's damaged crop of Reed avocados fell from the trees before they could be harvested ahead of the heatwave.

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