Is it Getting Warm in Here?

I saw this article as I was perusing the Puget Sound Wine Growers Group List that I am still a part of – – and I was surprised to see that the premium wine growing regions in Washington State and California will at some point be too warm to grow great fruit.

What does this mean for the rest of the country and even the globe? Projected_impact_of_climate_change_on_agricultural_yields_by_the_2080s,_compared_to_2003_levels_(Cline,_2007)

This year (2013), the USDA-ARS and the Climate Change Program Office put out a technical bulletin on Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation.  The key messages from this document are:

  • Increasing carbon dioxide (CO2), rising temperatures, and changes in precipitation pattern will affect agricultural productivity.
  • Livestock production systems will be greatly affected by temperature stresses.
  • Climate change effects on crop and livestock production for the next 25 years will be mixed.
  • Climate change will make current stresses (e.g., drought, flooding, salinity) even worse on plants and animals.
  • Agriculture is dependent on processes that support crop productivity including maintenance of soil and water quality AND quantity.
  • Higher incidence of extreme weather events will have increasing influence on agricultural productivity.
  • The vulnerability of agriculture to climate change is strongly dependent on the responses taken by humans to moderate the effects of climate change.
  • We can adapt.

What was really interesting when I was with WSU in Prosser, WA – the viticulturist there examined possible increases in maximum temperature as a driver of climate change in the region.  However, what we found was that while minimum temperatures were increasing, maximum temperatures were fairly steady over 85 years.

WSUProsserWhat impact might minimum temperature increases have?  We could start observing more varieties with fruit set problems, like that of ‘UFOne’.  With ‘UFOne’, researchers at UF found that when the night temperatures were over 55 °F, fruit set was poor.  It could be that the pollen is being shed before the ovary is ready, or that pollen tube growth (on its way to fertilize the ovary) is arrested and the pollen never makes it to the ovary.

The warm night temperatures might also affect acid levels in the fruit – which are important in developing quality flavor profiles.  Fruit with little acid often end up tasting sweet, but flabby and don’t linger very long on your palate, making for a bland eating experience.

I’ll end this with a picture of surface temperature projections through to 2099 in two different scenarios, one in which CO2 emissions are controlled (low) and one in which CO2 emissions continue to remain high.  I am hoping that technology will help us moderate emissions so that we can achieve the lower temperature scenario for the future.

2090 surface temps
Projected global temperature changes for the 2020s (left side) and 2090s (right side) compared to 1980-1999 for low emission (B1) and a high emission (A2) scenarios. The differences between scenarios get wider as time progresses.
Source: IPCC 2007.


An Introduction…

mercy&pctAugust, 2009

This is the first installment in the “Just Peachy in Florida” Blog as I start my career in stone fruit research and extension at the University of Florida.

Having a blog is a bit new for me, but as my family will tell those reading this, I am well-versed in Facebook; so letting growers know what is going on in the orchard world should be no problem!

My background in stone fruit all stems from a chance encounter in Washington State where I studied for my Master’s degree in viticulture.  During the early months of my research, I met my husband who was studying in plant genetics and breeding (M.S.) at the time.  After we got married, we started at Michigan State University on our Ph.D.s, and I had the opportunity to concentrate on stone fruit production.  It was a great project examining dwarfing rootstocks and the changes in carbohydrate concentration and vasculature around the graft union in sweet cherry rootstocks.  I was successful in publishing two articles, with a third in the review process.

Mercy Olmstead in VineyardAfter graduation, I accepted a position back at Washington State University as a viticulture extension specialist.  It was a wonderful opportunity to be back in the area with my husband’s family, but after 5 years, a job opportunity came up for my husband and I here at the University of Florida.

It has been so exciting to use my stone fruit knowledge again, and to work with rootstock systems.  I have always had so many questions from a basic science perspective about rootstock systems, since my first class in fruit production at MSU.  I am very excited to be on the “front end” of an industry where I have the chance to make a great impact, and I will work tirelessly to see the stone fruit industry succeed in Florida. Peter Olmstead Cherry Orchard

I believe in open communication and I strive to get the information that the growers need as soon as possible in the form that best meets their needs.  Publishing extension bulletins, this web page, presenting at meetings, face-to-face contacts, and phone calls are some of the ways that I anticipate getting that information to the growers.  If anyone has questions about stone fruit production and its potential here in Florida – please don’t hesitate to ask me.