What Do You Grow to Replace Avocados?

— According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's agreement with Mexico, among other restrictions, avocados trucked into the U.S. must cross at designated checkpoints along the Texas border and travel specific highway routes to their markets in the Northeast and North Central states. Despite this, the commission doubts that Mexican fruit can be kept out of the state once it's across the border.

But avocado ranchers in tropical Michoacan benefit from daily rains, generally better growing conditions, and cheaper labor than their American counterparts. An avocado in Canada, one of Mexico's markets, costs a half to a third as much as in the U.S. And one person who has worked in the local industry for many years says candidly that since the avocado-import decision has been in the news, it's been managers, packers, and wholesalers who have expressed the most concern. The growers themselves, the businessmen for whom avocados are one part of a larger portfolio, have been less vocal.

Steve Olson's dad started the family business 25 years ago, and now Steve is watching it change. About the future of San Diego avocado land already removed from production he says, "Most people aren't planting anything. Most are just letting the trees go and cutting them down and letting it go back to bare land and saving on the water bills. Nobody wants to go through the 'What are you going to put in?' There's nothing you can plant there where you're going to make a lot of money, otherwise everybody'd put it in. And there's nobody to sell out to. Nobody's buying. There are some places where the land is more level, and they're selling them out as horse estates and small properties. There are no better deals out there."

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