Are you thinking of buying a farm? Great! I can help! I'm Jill Pettigrew, and my husband and I have owned an avocado farm for more than 20 years.
Here in California, we have some of the best farmland in the world, and San Diego county is home to thousands of farms, including a good portion of the 6600 farms that are planted to avocado acreage. The vast majority of these avocado groves are family farms. Avocados are unique in farming in many ways... the demand is high, there are many small plots that are easily managed by outside consultants, the fruit is easy to sell. Additionally, avocado groves are pretty to look at, and, since they always are located in some of the most pleasant climates in the world, many of these family farms are, in fact, a fantastic way to ensure privacy and efficent land use on someone's personal home . Yes, you can plant avocados in your front yard!
However, if you are thinking of taking a serious step to buy some acreage and grow some avos, you've come to the right place for starting your search. I am VERY supportive of family farms, and I'd love to help you find one.
Find avocado groves, orange groves, vineyards, citrus groves, vacant land or buildable acreage by clicking on "Vacant Land". You can choose your city or zip code, also you can search by price. You can save your searches and have the new listings emailed to you every morning. Or, call me right now for help... Jill Pettigrew 760/468-1144 I can set it up for you.
So, when you find an avocado grove for sale, your next step will be to go and take a look. I love "walking the grove"... evaluating the condition and overall appearance of the grove, the leaves, the soil, the topography, and just to get a feel for the vibe on the particular piece of property that interests you. More than an critique... it's to give you a feel for whether or not this is a piece of property that you would like to own.
If you decide that you like a particular property, a more involved evaluation is in order. Most of this is done during an escrow... ie: when you and the seller have agreed to a price and terms. Then, you can start to call in the experts to help you figure out the strengths and weaknesses of this particular farm. You'll want to request the historical production records and hopefully also be able to get a profit and loss statement for the farm-- maybe going back 5- 7 years or more. You'll want to talk to the person in charge of the ongoing, day to day mangement of the ranch. This might be a professional grove manager, or it might be the seller.
You will want to get an idea of the grove management strategy that is being used on the property. Some people believe that trees should be allowed to grow large, others believe that "stumping" (cutting very tall trees down to just the trunk with no or few remaining branches) is the way to go. Others believe that constant mirco pruning will acheive the results that they are looking for.
If the grove has been abandoned or neglected, an assessment of salvagable trees is important to get an idea of what you can revive. Usually, an abandoned grove looks worst in the autumn... when it hasn't had water for a long, long time. By spring, trees that are still struggling might have a little omph due to the water rains.
Abandoned avocado trees can often be very tall, so an estimate for tree removal should be made. The trees usually need a good watering or many, and you'll have to figure out whether or not any particular tree is worth saving. A nice or decent grove that has been recently abandoned may be a diamond in the rough... give it a little TLC and it will say "thank you, let me make some avos for you...". So many people get a bad production year and react by cutting back on the water. Cutting back on water will never improve the grove. Think of your flower garden... what would happen to it if you decided to stop watering? It's certainly not going to give you the biggest and best flowers that you'd be bringing to the county fair. Avocados are the same... you can hardly expect to have a terrific grove if your first line of defense is to cut back on the watering. You might eke out some decent production years, especially on an "on" year, but that's a short term gain.