"I don’t need an El Niño — just normal rainfall,” said Bill Coy, a Cayucos avocado rancher who brought the California Avocado Commission and Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce together eight years ago to create the popular Avocado and Margarita Festival.
“Our industry will survive,” he said. “We’re hurting right now and doing all we can to continue productivity. Some of us have more water than others. I’m stumping trees and moving water around the ranch. If we can get some rain within a year, an avocado tree has so much energy in the roots, it can survive this drought.”
Just outside Morro Bay on Highway 41, the visible acreage of stumped, white-painted avocado trees belonging to Morro Creek Ranch has been described as a graveyard.
“We’re protecting the trees for the future,” Coy said. “Stumping revitalizes the trees. The white paint protects them from rot. With water, they’ll come back in two to three years. Morro Creek stumped some 200 trees. They’ll keep 20 acres in production. I have 31 left.”
The Central Coast might be better off than San Diego and Ventura areas, he said.
“They have less water, and it’s very expensive. They also have a ground-water problem … too salty,” he said.
Coy, a former director of the California Avocado Commission, credits the statewide organization for turning national grocers and buyers into avid California avocado consumers.
“Our industry will survive because the consumer now knows our fruit is the best. Ten years ago, they didn’t want our fruit,’’ he said. “Today, 34 million California avocados demand a premium price.
“Consumers now know the heart healthy benefits of the avocado,” he continued. “We’ll gladly give up Super Bowl Sunday to Chilean or Peruvian fruit so the California avocado can stay on the trees longer to increase the quality of the fruit. Our season is Fourth of July through November; Morro Creek Ranch ships worldwide even in December.”
Coy said the committee stepped up for this year’s festival, and he credited Nancy McKiernan and Carol Furtado for making a difference. The event supports the chamber, Morro Bay High School’s music and athletic departments, and the Rotary Club’s community gifting.
“I love hearing kids and adults tell me they love avocados,” Coy said.
The festivities will be Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10:30 a.m., and include specialty avocado dishes, musical entertainment, contests, kid-friendly activities, arts and craft vendors, and lots of guacamole, beer, margaritas and avocados for sale, plus a free raffle for a year’s supply of avocados.
“I’ll stand behind our Central Coast avocado as the best in the world,” Coy said, smiling. For more details, check out www.avomargfest.com.