San Diego Growers Assess Fire Damage

While hot spots are still smoldering, we are pleased to report most of the growers in San Diego County are out of harm’s way. This week, local grower associations and University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) are working with growers to assess damage and get them back on their feet again.

“There are still some burning hotspots, but they are in remote wildland areas and people, homes and nurseries are not threatened,” says Eric Larson, executive director of San Diego County Farm Bureau. “The county department of agriculture has reported there are 11,428 acres of agriculture with the footprints of the burn areas of the several large fires. That is not to say it was all destroyed. The random nature of the fires left many things untouched within the footprints. Of that acreage, 800 were outdoor cut flowers, 45 greenhouses and 750 acres of nursery stock. From my observations and what I have heard, a fraction of those totals will prove to have been destroyed. We are probably still a few days away from having dollar figures on damage.”

Avocado groves took the biggest hit due to the fact that they are heavily grown in the fire area and are on hillsides, which results in tremendous heat as fires move uphill, Larson says. Many citrus and avocado growers also produce ornamentals, notes James Bethke, floriculture and nursery farm advisor for UCCE San Diego. “The Rice Canyon fire burned through the Rainbow and Fallbrook areas, where there are a great number of small operations. From the 15 freeway, you can see burned palm nurseries and saran houses. The other was the Witch fire that started near two major tree nurseries then burned into the developments of Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Santa Fe.”

Larson says growers who suffered the most damage had permanent crops such as protea, banksias, wax, lepto and eucalyptus. “In the field, it appears those crops were very flammable and with high wind gusts driving the flames, it is no surprise that those crops would not survive,” Larson says. “We have heard reports from growers who lost between 20 and 80 percent of their plantings. In fact, when Governor Schwarzenegger was looking for a location to see the greatest damage to farms, he went to Kendall Farms in Fallbrook. Kendall grows the crops mentioned.”

Bethke also was in awe of the damage at Kendall Farms. “I was able to see the farm and the whole canyon from a good vantage point and it is nearly a complete loss,” he says. “The entire canyon except for one home looks completely gone. I spoke to an avocado grower who watched the fire burn right through Kendall Farms on the way to his avocados. He lost 200 avocado trees, several hundred azaleas in a shade house, then his house. His neighbor lost a portion of his shade house, some potted plants and several specimen palms planted along his driveway.”

Greenhouse Operations OK

Larson says he has heard no reports of greenhouse damage. “It appears the damage to nursery stock will largely be on the fringe portions of nurseries in the burn areas,” he says. “My observation is that the potted crops were not as flammable and flames did not carry through the nurseries. However, I did observe some palms at a nursery that were planted in the ground and they’re completely gone, just a few hundred charred stubs sticking out of the ground.”

Growers also sustained secondary damage because they could not get past evacuation lines back into their nurseries to irrigate their crops, Larson adds. “There was great local concern about possible looting in evacuated areas and security was tight. Growers couldn’t breach it to get back in to irrigate. We talked to one nursery operator who lost 100 percent of his nursery stock because the community water system went down in the fire and he had no access to water once security was lifted.”

The good news, so far, is there will be government assistance, Bethke says. “Just about anyone who is someone has been here to offer assistance–the governor, the feds, the local supervisors,” he says. “As I have driven some of the areas, I have run into representatives from the governor and Senator Diane Feinstein. The governor was visited Fallbrook yesterday to see if the National Guard were still needed there.”

Along with San Diego County Farm Bureau, the California Cut Flower Commission and San Diego County Flower and Plant Association are taking stock of the local growers with losses. Clean up has been put on hold until a full assessment has been made.

“As a group, the UC Cooperative Extension will be helping the county and the growers get up and running again as fast as possible,” Bethke says. “They will certainly need help networking to get the plants growing and producing again, and we have a serious reduction in ag water (30 percent) that we will have to deal with to compound the problem.”

Larson says the farm bureau is acting as the central information point for growers who may need to know what resources are available to get themselves back on their feet. The bureau is posting daily updates at www.sdfarmbureau.org.

Help Wildfire Victims

 

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Genetically Engineered Petunias

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Available for Download

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand Viewing

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More
Latest Stories

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More

February 11, 2017

Poinsettia Survey Reveals Growers Increased Poinsettia …

On average, growers responding to Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia Survey said the poinsettia season was “good,”Here’s a glance at the outlook for poinsettias in the marketplace.

Read More

January 25, 2017

59 New Members of Congress Need to Hear from You, SAF S…

Retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and growers coming to the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 37th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 13-14 in Washington, DC, have a lot of explaining to do. There are 59 new congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill, and this freshmen class needs a lesson about floriculture.

Read More
bouldin-lawson-pro-sticking-line-at-north-creek-nurseries

January 25, 2017

State of the Industry 2017: Growers are Ready to Invest…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that grower investment in technology is imminent due to the cost and availability of labor, to improve efficiency, expand their growing operations, and allow employees to concentrate on higher value jobs that are less labor-intensive.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Growers are an Aging Demographic, 2017 State of the Ind…

Owners and upper management of growing operations in the horticulture industry, not unlike others in agriculture, are aging, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry Survey.

Read More
Biocontrols and beneficials absolutely can be used in outdoor production, with the use of banker plant systems

January 24, 2017

Growers Becoming More Sustainable but Most Think Climat…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that growers are adopting biocontrols and organic production, yet 58% of growers said they don't believe humans can control climate change.

Read More

January 24, 2017

State of the Industry Survey Says 2017 Will be a Year o…

Growers, suppliers, and researchers who took Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State Of The Industry Survey say they are ready to drive change and profitability in horticultural businesses.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More
cuttings-facility

September 27, 2016

How Global Suppliers Of Unrooted Cuttings Are Working T…

The world’s top vegetative producers discuss how they continue to evolve to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities to help growers and the varieties supply chain.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More