If you have found a potential avocado farm to buy, you will need to systematically evaluate it for future production. The good news is that many, many farmers can boost production tremendously by good management practices. But, first, let's help you figure out what you actually have:
1) Establish acreage, easements and property corners. Finding the property corners on vacant land can be somewhat challenging sometimes, so be prepared to either rely on the seller's memory or to pay a licensed survey company a fee to find and mark the corners. Easements will be provided by the Title Company, and want to be sure that you have legal access to the property.
Ask yourself, too, "Is there a potential homesite here?" As I said before, avocados grow in the best climate, so often these groves are situated in the path of progress. Usually, the land that offers a terrific homesite will appreciate more than a more undesireable parcel. The prices will be reflective of this, too. So your farm may offset the cost of your purchase of a homesite by providing alternative means of income or tax deductions.
2) Take inventory of the infrastructure.
Water: Does the site have city water? What size is the water meter? Is there a water well? How deep is it? How wide is the casing? When was the last time it was operative?
Power: Does it have electrical power? Three phase power? Where is the power pole in relationship to the property?
Roads: Paved, gravel or dirt? 4 wheel drive only? How far to the nearest county maintained road? If a private road, is there a road maintence agreement in place or HOA? Usually you will find that out AFTER opening escrow and having access to the Title report, as these things may take a significant amount of research to uncover.
Housepad: Many grove sites, especially in San Diego, Riverside and San Luis Obisbo counties, are in the process of being developed as a homesite.
3) Crop inventory- What do the avocado trees look like now? Are they being maintained? Have they been recently watered or fertilized? If the grove or farm has been abandoned, how long ago? How many trees are in good, bad, or dead condition? How tall are they (will ladders be needed to harvest the avo crop?) ? Do the trees have their leaves and leaf canopy?
You are trying to get an idea of what it will take to bring the trees into full production. California average harvest is about 6000 pound of avocados per acre, usually with trees planted on a 20 x 20 grid. An exellent goal for avocado trees is 10,000 or more pounds per acre. Some years will produce less, some higher, due to climate conditions and the trees in alternate bearing years. You are looking for nice production numbers over a long period of time.
Prices for avocados mostly average about a dollar a pound. This boosted production is absolutely possible with intensive mangement practices, but, like any business, you will "reap what you sow", and you won't approach that type of production if you skimp on water and fertilizer. Run your farm like a business, which it is! Unless of course, you're looking for the benefits of farming for a tax write-off.