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Winter Heat Threatens Californian Fruit, Nut Crops

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posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 12:08 PM
Here's something i thought you guys across the pond may be interested in from the discovery channel:

July 22, 2009 -- California's famously fertile Central Valley -- home to a $9 billion industry that provides much of the United States' supply of fruit and nut crops -- may be teetering on the edge of a climate-induced disaster, according to a new study.

A team lead by Eike Luedeling of University of California, Davis used a computer simulation of past and future climates in the 400-mile long valley to predict what impact future, human-induced global warming could have on fruit and nut tree farmers.

Fruit trees need cold winter weather almost as much as they need warm summer sunshine. If it doesn't get cold enough, trees stay dormant later into the spring, and flower erratically. As a result fruit crops may not be fully matured at harvest time, or there may be nothing to pick at all.

Compared to 1950, the team found cool winter weather had already decreased 30 percent by 2000. If human emissions of greenhouse gases continues to grow unabated until the end of the 21st century, a worst-case scenario, chill may decline as much as 80 percent.

Under such conditions, as much as three quarters of the valley may be rendered unsuitable for the production of peaches, walnuts, plums, apricots, pistachios and nectarines -- some of the Central Valley's most lucrative crops. Cherries, apples, and pears are even more sensitive. They could be severely damaged, or even disappear from the valley as early as 2050.

"This is going to have a very significant effect on many crops," Luedeling told Discovery News, scientists wrote in research published yesterday in the journal PloS ONE."It will be very tough for orchard farmers to adjust. For some tree species, they may have to think about planting something else."

Almonds and pomegranates will be least effected, as they require less cold weather than other crops. But the team predicts that almost all of the nearly 40,000 fruit and nut orchards in the region will suffer some damage. The economic losses, while difficult to predict, could be high.

"A lot of the fruit that we love and that's healthy for us only grows in California," David Baldocchi of the University of California, Berkeley said. "As people try to eat healthier and healthier, we may find the things we want to eat might be going away."

Baldocchi, who grew up on a farm in the Central Valley and whose cousin is a cherry farmer, said farmers are already being forced to contend with warmer winters are already impacting crops.

"My cousin complains about how it's costing him all this money because he has to spray hormones on his trees to get them to break dormancy," he said. Such technological measures may work for a while, he said, but eventually the warming will become to great.

"The bottom line is we need to reduce our carbon emissions," he said. "This is just a symptom of a larger, global problem."

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 10:07 AM
reply to post by TruthxIsxInxThexMist

Welcome to the future
a world ravaged by extremes of weather.
Crops destroyed due to extended severe droughts and continual record breaking rainfall and overbearing temperatures.
an overpopulated planet whose resources have dwindled to fatal or dangerous levels.
The problem in California and beyond is just the starter.
We, as a species, are careering at record breaking pace to a very precarious and destructive main course.
God help us when the shtf

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 06:31 PM
reply to post by uk today

Hey.... thanx for replying..... i didn't think anybody cared x

posted on Jul, 26 2009 @ 06:38 PM
Thank you for recognizing our area

I live in the Great Central Valley and am involved in a ag related
Yes the nuts and stone fruit need cool winters to properly flower in the spring.
But, so much more is changing as well. Agriculture will adapt as it always has.
This fruit/ nut tree mecca is a fairly recent deal, most the almonds, pistachios, and stone fruit plantedwest of US 99 were only planted in the last 25 years. That land used to be cotton or grapes or a whole host of other crops. At one time large portions of the central valley were planted in wheat. That changed after ww2 and people planted other things.
You are now seeing orchards and vineyard being ripped out and replanted with row crops.
Broccoli, asparagus, melons, garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, squash cotton and all the other crops grown here will still do very well.
At one time the stonefruit and nut crops were constrained to narrow swath of land , about 20 miles wide, at the foot of the sierra, where you had the nightly temp drops so crucial to these type of crops.
But as demand grew acreage that had been planted in other crops was turned to fruit and nut orchards. In the central-southern san joaquin much of this new acerage was taken from olives and figs,crops that had seen their economic heydays.
Now the almonds and plums and peaches are coming out and are going into other things, its the cyclic nature of commercial agriculture.

The real threat to the Central Valley ag production is a lack of water.
Without water nothing grows here, and it returns to the swamp/desert it was.

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