20 May 2014

Agriculture in changing climate

If you're one of the people who thinks that food grows in grocery stores, all the talk about climate change affecting agriculture is passing you by.  You'd be wrong to think so, but most modern industrial country people are not involved in agriculture.  Having grown up in the corn belt I'm perhaps a little sensitized to the fact that farming is hard work.  And that farming is extremely sensitive to details of the weather.  Anything sensitive to weather is sensitive to climate.

Many foods depend on extremely specific climates.  Not just current climates, but the history of climate for thousands of years -- soils to grow a good crop in develop over that time span.  The corn belt is where it is not just because of current (well, 1950-1980) climate but because in the thousands of years before that, the soil improved and developed to the point of being able to support such farming.  For something like corn, which is grown across a huge area, climate change can be an issue.  But someone, somewhere, will probably be able to grow corn 30 years from now.

But many items grow in relatively small areas, subject to the whims of local change.  Some of these are:
Such specialized crops are sensitive, to the point of perhaps being eliminated, to climate changes.

I invite readers to check the sources linked to above.  And to contribute their own crop types that are either sensitive to climate change, those which are insensitive, and those which would even benefit from expected changes.  Please do include links to your examples.


sidd said...

Horseradish ? The thing grows all over PA and OH, i see invasions in many gardens and vegetable plots i am acquainted with. I have seen 40 foot runners and explosive growth in early spring before the more wanted plants have a chance. Personally, i love it, eat large amounts of it (do remember to puree it in the cuisinart _outdoors_, standing _upwind_ when you remove the lid. My friends unload lots of it on me. If a shortage does occur, i will be in fat city.


Robert Grumbine said...

:-) I was quite surprised when I first heard the observation. But I've since seen it backed by more serious statistics. Part of my surprise was like yours -- I had some growing, unasked, in my back yard.

I guess that either the climate for growing it on industrial scale is limited, or that most of the people interested in doing so are in that county. Wonder what it smells like at harvest time.