Shift In Crop Growing Seasons And Locations Needed To Adapt To Climate Change

Posted: Aug 28, 2020

New research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a United States national laboratory that conducts scientific research on behalf of the Department of Energy, has suggested that some popular produce crops might not survive by the years 2045-2049 if current conditions are maintained. The researchers said that future temperatures will have more of an effect on when cool-season crops, such as broccoli and lettuce, can be grown than on where, while warm-season crops (cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots) will experience greater impact on where they can be grown versus when.

To ensure food security for California and the rest of the country, it’s important to predict how future warming will affect California agriculture,” said the paper’s lead author, Alison Marklein.

In carrying out the study, the researchers first selected five annual crops that are produced more in California than any other state – lettuce, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and cantaloupe. These nutrient-dense foods contributed 64 percent of the state’s cash value of vegetable and melon crops in 2016 and are considered essential to food security, as evidenced by their place among the top vegetables and fruits donated to four studied California food banks.

“We found differences in how warmer temperatures will affect the cool-season versus the warm-season crops,” Marklein said. “For cool-seasons 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.”

By Sam Mehmet
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