Re-Evaluating Crop Locations. Planning for the year 2045

With record droughts, frequent heat waves, and wildfires ravaging California many farmers are having to re-evaluate where they will be growing their crops. An estimated one-third of vegetables and two-thirds of fruit and nuts that are consumed in the US alone are grown in California soil. It is believed that over 76,000 farms could be affected. 


As of today, according to the California Chamber of Commerce, the number of California exports of agricultural related products to Canada are totally $2.47 billion annually, while food manufacturing totals in the $1.35 billion region in gross domestic product. However, times are changing, and adaptation comes into play. According to research conducted by a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, many of California’s regions may become too warm and dry to support the environmental needs of the crops. The data they collected suggests that by between the years of 2045 to 2049, temperatures in California’s farming regions will be impacting the growth ability of many farmers’ crops. 


For the study, the group from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory moved their focus to produce such as lettuce, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and cantaloupe. These were chosen due to that fact they are the top five annual crops within the highest U.S. production rates in California. According to the team, these crops have contributed to at least 64% of the state’s cash value in vegetable and melon related crops in the year 2016. The team then analyzed over 15 years of air temperature data and analytics covering crop temperature thresholds, as well as crop growing locations. Along with this, the team took a brief look at what the future holds for the land the crops are grown on. They analyzed future warming scenarios to make a determination on how vast the effect would be, and just how many crops would no longer be viable due to the increasing temperatures. 


Statements made by Alison Marklein, the papers leading author; 


We found differences in how warmer temperatures will affect the cool-season crops versus the warm-season crops, 


“For cool-season crops like broccoli and lettuce, it may be possible to extend their growing seasons. But it may become too warm to grow warm-season tomatoes where they have been historically farmed in summer, and may require moving them to milder climates warm enough for growing tomatoes under the new climate scenarios.


“Looking at the hot-dry future climate scenario, although temperatures in fall and spring are likely to increase as will summer temperatures, a shift in growing season isn’t a viable solution because the summer temperatures are likely to exceed the critical temperatures for tomatoes,


“Tomatoes need four consecutive months for their growing season, so the gap in the middle filled by summer makes this unfeasible.

“It’s critical to plan ahead for future warming scenarios, particularly in areas like California that feed the nation.Marklein said.

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