- Author: Ben Faber
It seems the world is attacked on all sides, including the iconic citrus and avocado industries in California. Aside from the other agricultural issues all growers have of water, labor, costs, weather, family, you name it, citrus and avocado growers have particular problems. There is Asian Citrus Psyllid/Huanglongbing for citrus and the Shot Hole Borers for Avocado. The latter is a beast that is going to lay waste to many other tree species besides avocado, like sycamore, coast live oak, native maple and many other tree species.
Citrus and avocado are still strong industries in California and will remain so as solutions to these pest invasions are dealt with. But we are coming up to the time when maybe other tree crops should be considered. These alternative tree crops come with new promise, but they also come with problems. You have to figure out how to market them. The California industry knows what to do with an avocado and a grower knows where to go with a ‘Gold Nugget' mandarin, but what do you do with a longan or cherimoya. You figure out how to market it, through direct marketing at farmers markets or the internet, some specialty marketer like Frieda's Finest or Melissa's or your regular packer who has taken an interest in your product.
I've spoken with growers who say they have grown such and such for four generations and they are not adjusted physically or psychologically to grow anything else. Well, it is good to stick with what you know best and refine it for current conditions, but it's also good to keep options open. Stick to what is best for your situation and support the studies needed to make citrus and avocado strong industries, but also think about maybe something else.
Here's links to tree crops that do well in Southern California and for that matter can be adjusted to much of California. Just watch out, it gets cold north of the Grapevine and San Luis Obispo and options are more limited with subtropicals, but think deciduous.