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California Avocado Growers Work to Maintain US Supply Despite Historic Drought

While California usually offers ideal growing conditions for one of America's trendiest foods, the drought has avocado farmers concerned about future production.

California avocado farmers are doing everything they can to keep production on track while the historic drought threatens future crops.

Most growers are coping and maintaining their productivity for this season and are seeing a fairly typical supply for California at around 300 million pounds, a California Avocado Commission official said.

There are, however, worries for the future.

The majority of California avocado farmers have faced significantly higher water costs for years and have continually worked to optimize their water use through conservation and technologies that improve water use efficiencies, said Ken Melban, vice president of Industry Affairs for the California Avocado Commission.

"To state the obvious, the concerns center on how long will the drought continue and at what level," Melban said.

California has received above-average rainfall in May, but it has had only a minor impact on the extended drought, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said.

"Because the state is in such bad shape, this kind of rain is definitely not enough," Boston said.

A strengthening El Niño may provide drought relief to the Golden State this fall and winter but not until then, Boston said.

The fresh produce farmers supply to California and the nation is critical, Melban explained.

"Everyone in California has a tremendous amount of concern surrounding the diminishing water supply, and this increased attention on the water needs of agriculture is prompting a healthy conversation within our state regarding the importance of agriculture and ensuring the appropriate balance is struck," he said.

Moving operations elsewhere really isn't an option, Melban said.

"The sub-tropical climate of the California coastal areas is ideal for growing avocados," he said. "In fact, California produces 95 percent of the total avocado production in the U.S., the majority of which are the Hass variety. The only other production is of the green skin varieties in Florida."

"While the current drought in California does pose very serious challenges, at this time we expect normal supplies for next season."