It would be hard to miss the news of devastating fires raging across California. People are losing their homes, cars, worldly possessions, and livelihoods. What hasn’t been publicly acknowledged is the long-term environmental effects. California is home to many important crops that Americans all over the country consume. Avocado and lemon crops have been decimated by the wildfires.
While most of the U.S. grocery stores procure their avocados from Mexico, California is the largest American avocado grower. Lemon groves have also suffered from the fires due to strong winds from the Santa Ana Fire. Once the lemons drop or are bruised they cannot be sold. Local farmers can do little but wait and hope that the conditions quickly improve and that the next growing season will be prosperous.
In October California wine country fell victim to heavy wildfires. Luckily, most farmers were almost complete with the seasonal grape harvest but the wine storage areas of many vineyards were negatively affected. It is expected that previously low-cost California wine vintages will increase in price next year as a direct result of the losses.
Farmers out west have had a challenging season thanks to dry conditions, strong winds, and fast-moving fires. Their job is a tough one. Planting seeds, tending them, nurturing seedling, plus all of the other aspects of growing produce all lead up to the year’s finale- the harvest. When that is disrupted it not only hurts the farmer themselves but also the local economy and the jobs the farms or orchards provide the area. The end result is that prices become elevated so stores begin importing from other countries to keep a consistent supply available to consumers. Long-term effects depend on future weather conditions and the viability of existing plants. Of course, human life, animals, and homes are of the highest level of importance, but the crops are an important part of the California economy that is often overlooked when natural disasters occur. When a massive forest fire occurs it changes life exponentially for those in the affected areas with ripple effects across the country.