Can Farmers Plant Different Crops?
Ranch Manger Chris Sayer of the Petty Ranch in Ventura County told me last week he is going to try not to harvest avocados until he absolutely has to, hoping for markets to improve. Then he told me about ground of his that he will plant into avocados later this year. That brought up a question: why not plant something else with better markets?
Sayer… “As we've got certain acreage out now awaiting replanting towards trees, we've got the time where the ground is open and it would be available for another crop. I've looked into it. But you know, our irrigation system is designed to support tree crops. Well, vegetables require different irrigation, and that would cause us to spend a minimum of $150,000 to revamp that irrigation system in order to allow it to accommodate growing those types of crops. That's a huge investment. That's a lot of risk that I'm not really ready to take on right now, and with only, at the moment, four acres available to grow vegetables. The odds of recovering, even just that investment, let alone the other equipment and personnel and other changes we need to make. It's not very likely. Literally, it would take less time and money for me to go to medical school and become a doctor than to retool this operation into a significantly different portfolio of crops.”
Planting different crops is simply not an option for many farmers.