California avocado crop largely intact despite Southern California fires

Wildfires that swept through Southern California this week affected the state's largest avocado growing region, but the California avocado crop remains intact, according to the California Avocado Commission.

"Our primary concern has been the personal safety of our growers and their families," said Commission President Mark Affleck. "Some growers have suffered losses and we will do everything possible to help them through this difficult time."

Although damage reports are still coming in, and fires continue to burn in portions of San Diego County, accounts of avocado losses have been overstated.

"Early reports from other sources stated that 20,000 acres of avocados were lost in the fires in San Diego. This information was incorrect," said Guy Witney, the Commission's director of Industry Affairs. "The actual area affected is expected to be only a fraction of that amount."

Before the fires, California was expected to produce about 365 million pounds of avocados during the 2007-2008 crop year. The Commission is now reevaluating the crop, which is likely to be 10 percent smaller than initial projections because of the fires and Santa Ana winds.

"We'll know more in the coming weeks," Witney said. "The Commission will issue an updated crop estimate once all the information is in."

Based in Irvine, Calif., the California Avocado Commission was created in 1978 to develop markets for and increase consumption of California avocados on behalf of the state's 6,500 avocado growers. The California Avocado Commission serves as the official information source for California avocados and the California avocado industry.

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