Avocado Farmers Impacted By Drought

Growers work to conserve water, produce flourishing crops

Avocado Farmers Ready For This Season

GOLETA, Calif. - The end of March starts the beginning of this year's avocado season. But coming off a drought, growers have faced challenges across Santa Barbara County.

Jim Swoboda has grown avocados for 15 years but with the business comes certain challenges.

"We had an opportunity to get our hands dirty and deliver a product that's excellent that the people want," Swoboda said. "A farmer's life is just full of just the uncertainties of what is thrown at them.

Drought is one of them.

"What we need to do is to husband in and take very good strict control over our water resources," said Swoboda.  "We're trying to be very frugal, all of the users are that are customers of it and we're just hoping for rain."

Swoboda said the farm received 5 inches this weekend that was much welcomed, but not a permanent solution.

"It's allowed all of us to stop irrigating for a period of time," he said. "In time, if less water is applied to a tree. It will affect the sizing, never the taste."

But the drought doesn't necessarily affect the pricing as it's set by market conditions.

"There's a misconception out there that the growers are raking in the money any time there's an increase in price," said Ken Melban of the California Avocado Commissions. "Growers are doing all they can to cover their production costs."

But despite the drought, Melban is positive for this upcoming season.

"Ultimately we're going to have a good, consistent supply of California grown avocados during our peak season," Melban said.

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