FLAMES, WEATHER BATTER CROPS LONGTIME MOORPARK GROWER FIGURES DAMAGE FROM WILDFIRE, THEN WINTER FREEZE.
MOORPARK - First came the wildfire that roared through his avocado and lemon orchards. Then came the frost that froze what was left of the trees. The winds provided the knockout blow.
Now, David Schwabauer is assessing the damage to his 750-acre Leavens Ranch north of Moorpark, worried that he has lost up to 10,000 trees.
``It's a double whammy. You feel sorry for the poor trees,'' he said. ``Last month they were literally burning up. Then the temperature dropped into the 20s, and we were freezing. We have to wait and see which trees will recover and which will die. I'm figuring we have damage to
between 50 and 60 acres of avocados and 20 to 30 acres of lemons.''
Like ranchers in other parts of Ventura County affected by the Dec. 3 Shekell Fire and the subsequent cold snap, Schwabauer won't know for several months how many trees he lost. But it's a toll not usually addressed in newsreports that focus on damaged homes and injured people.
``It's a very frustrating time,'' he said.
David Buettner, the county's deputy agricultural commissioner, said the recent dry, windy weather made the area more susceptible than usual to fire damage and frost. He didn't have specific figures for the number of trees damaged but said it's clearly in the thousands.
The commissioner's office said the fire did about $3 million in damage to crops like citrus fruit, avocados and hay, an estimate likely to increase as the damage becomes more apparent.
``It is unusual to have a fire followed by a frost,'' he said. ``Generally, we have a good amount of rain by this time of year.''
Schwabauer's ranch is along both sides of Highway 23, directly in the path of the fire that burned 13,600 acres and destroyed five homes.
The fire melted the ranch's irrigation pipes, so one of the first challenges was to restore the irrigation needed to cope with the cold, dry weather.
``We really scrambled to replace close to 40 miles of irrigation pipe,'' the farmer said. ``It's crucial to deal with the dryness and prevent frost damage.''
(1 -- color) Longtime Moorpark-area farmer David Schwabauer looks over lemon trees burned by the recent brush fire in his Moorpark orchard.
(2) David Schwabauer, whose family's Leavens Ranch is located along the Route 23 Freeway in Moorpark, assesses damage to his lemon trees.
Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 7, 2007|
|Previous Article:||GIRL, 9, EXCEEDS GOAL FOR BOOKS 1,000 VOLUMES SET FOR HOSPITAL KIDS.|
|Next Article:||DETROIT AT DUCKS.|