Fire Prevention Measures for California Avocado Groves

  • Aug 08, 2019

The Topics in Subtropics blog recently shared fire readiness tips for California avocado growers. Following are best practices as noted in the article.

One of the most important fire prevention steps a grower can take is to create defensible spaces through proper weed management, pruning and removal of plant matter debris. Defensible spaces — spaces that have been cleared of combustible materials (aka, “fuel” for fires) — can slow or prevent the spread of wildfires and create a safe space within which firefighters can work. The key is to deny a fire’s easy access to plant matter by breaking up vegetative continuity, thus reducing a fire’s intensity, flame height and rate of spreading.

It’s important to create defensible spaces around structures, along roads and groves, and across ridge tops. In order to create defensible spaces, you must not only cut down (or rake away) vegetation — you must either remove the vegetation from the area by burning it our hauling it away, or break up the vegetation into wood chips or scattered bits of material. Do not store the chips in large piles that can easily ignite and smolder.

The following are fire prevention best practices. Please keep in mind that some of these measures can be counteractive to erosion and root disease control, so these measures should be used in a balanced manner.

  • Remove brush, trees and heavy vegetation within 50’ of the edge of your grove
  • Remove vegetative matter that surrounds the trunks of trees to at least 2’ away
  • Prune off low-lying limbs
  • Remove broken or dead limbs from the grove
  • Remove prunings and cleared brush/plants from the grove by burning them or hauling them away
  • Do not pile brush and prunings in or near your grove where they can easily catch fire, nor in waterways where they can obstruct water flow
  • Use steel pipe and risers for sprinkler systems
  • If there is a fire threat in your area, apply sprinkler water to your grove in advance
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