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Climate Change a Boon to More Temperate Crops?

Climate Change a Boon to More Temperate Crops?

If you want to know about the validity of the climate change theory, don’t talk to a politician or even a scientist, talk to a farmer. I am fortunate enough to cross paths with farmers often and I usually ask them if they are feeling the impact of climate change and the answer is always yes (sometimes more emphatic than other times). Farmers have told me about the difficulty in maintaining fickle crops impacted by shifting weather that would otherwise be relatively easy to manage. This, along with much associated with climate change, holds a decidedly negative impact on farming and the planet, but what if there is a silver lining somewhere?

According to a Reuters report, farmers in the UK are seizing all that comes with global weirding and are experimenting with crops such as olives, nectarines (both of which would never have previously been viable in the UK) and tea, a highly imported staple from far more subtropical regions. Flowers will bloom early and crops will be harvested sooner as Britain marches towards what the government describes as a “wetter and warmer” UK. And this “wetter and warmer” UK is facilitating a radical shift in agricultural output for Britain. Seemingly the experiments are going quite well for these enterprising farmers, as Mark Diacono, a farmer in Devon has been experimenting with a wide array of crops including olives, pecans, Szechuan pepper and apricots and also lists vineyard on what he calls “climate change farm” on his website. Robert Watson, chief scientist at Britain’s farming and environment ministry, said his department was closely monitoring the impact climate change was having on crops. Watson said, “There is no question that climate change will have significant effect on crops. Climate change might be beneficial for the UK at least because we will have a larger growing period with shorter winters and earlier springs.”

Silver lining? Maybe, but probably not. For every UK or Canadian farmer reveling in their ability to grow stone fruit or lengthen the growing season a few weeks, there are untold numbers of other farmers in more temperate climes that are reeling from the volatility that climate change brings. If there were just a shift in growing regions that would be simple (relatively) but I don’t need to tell you this is something bigger and more impactful than peaches in Scotland.

What is your read on these new agricultural opportunities for the UK? Can any of this be good? Is Britain capable of producing a nectarine sweet enough to make this all feel OK?

Read more: Environment, Following Food, Food, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

41 comments

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9:45AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Thanks.

12:38PM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Working along with our farmers will be scientists developing new types and strains of the crops.

1:20AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Thanks Eric.

1:16AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Thanks Eric.

6:20PM PST on Jan 28, 2013

Thanks

12:52AM PDT on Sep 3, 2012

If the world gives you lemons.....

12:35PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

thanks

4:43PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Thanks

6:12AM PDT on May 14, 2012

Go with the flow

3:18AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Thanks.

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