From sunrise to sunset on October 14, it was avocados for me. I was touring groves, talking to farmers and researchers, stuffing my head with more than I could process.

But I took photos. And here I share some with you.

My morning began with an offshore breeze at Brokaw Nursery and Long Canyon Ranch in Ventura, as hundreds of avocado farmers, enthusiasts, and industry folks arrived for the 108th Annual Meeting of the California Avocado Society.

The trees at Long Canyon Ranch are planted close together and on berms that run down the slope in order to aid water drainage.

GEM avocado trees planted 6 feet apart with alleys 16 feet wide.

Newly planted trees have drip lines laid close to the trunks.

Trees planted June, 2023.

Drip lines are spread out as the trees get older.

Trees planted in 2021.

Brokaw is testing new rootstocks gleaned from around the world to gauge how they do in California conditions. Do you notice the trees in the middle growing poorly? Those rootstocks are not well-suited for these growing conditions.

Sometimes the poor growth of an avocado tree is not your fault. Sometimes it’s the rootstock’s fault.

After the California Avocado Society’s Annual Meeting at Brokaw was finished, I drove east to Cheravo Ranch in Santa Paula, where ranch manager Nathan Lurie gave me a tour. We stopped at the oldest Carmen avocado tree in California.

Fortunately, this historic tree survived the Thomas Fire in 2017.

We visited a section of younger Carmen trees to see if they were having their unique fall flowering, usually called the “off bloom.” A few were in bloom, and there were also some mature avocados from last fall’s off bloom.

Off-bloom Carmen avocados are rounder in shape.
Compare them to the avocados from the tree’s main bloom in spring on the left, which is indistinguishable from Hass.

We also visited some mature trees of the variety now called Luna, formerly known as Marvel or BL516.

The tree architecture has slender, upright limbs that only sometimes arch toward the ground under the weight of their fruit.

In the late afternoon, I left Cheravo and headed south across the Santa Clara river and up into the hills near Somis to the grove of John Schoustra, which is adjacent to his Greenwood Daylilly Garden nursery. Like Brokaw’s Long Canyon Ranch, he grows his trees on berms oriented up and down the slope.

But no erosion here because of a deep mulch of wood chips.

I’ve never seen an avocado grove covered so thickly in wood chips as John Schoustra’s. And the trees clearly enjoy it. In fact, he says he doesn’t find the need to add fertilizer. I saw the evidence on the tree branches, which were heavy with fruit.

John Schoustra among a block of healthy, fruitful nine-year old Hass trees.
Here’s what I found under the wood chips in the alley between John’s trees: healthy, white avocado root tips.

I departed Schoustra’s place as the sun was setting. I had a three-hour drive back to San Diego, but I never even turned on the radio because my mind remained busy reviewing and trying to understand all that I’d seen.

That was 13 photos. How about we end the slideshow with one short video from the California Avocado Society’s meeting at Long Canyon Ranch?

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