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What to make of the weather

Published 8:22pm Saturday, March 17, 2012

This record breaking weather is really something.

My husband is calling it “End of the World Weather.” But seriously, what is going on? Global warming? How will this affect our farmers? It is difficult to predict the future, but in 2001 the United Nations InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) issued a Report: Climate Change 2001: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability).

 

Here are some of the suggested impacts:

•Climate change will affect crop yields and irrigation demands.

•Water Resources will be affected: water supply, quality and competition for water.

•Moderately warmer weather and increased CO2 in the atmosphere may help some crop growth (up 30 percent in the case of rice, soy and wheat), but with increased temperatures the grain yield drops 10 percent for every 1˚C rise above 26˚C.

•Agricultural areas may suffer erosion from increased wind and water from short term changes in weather.

•The growth of agricultural pests (weeds, insects and pathogens) under climate change is being studied with varying results.

For example, higher temperatures increase the severity of rice leaf blast epidemics in cool subtropical zones, but in warm humid subtropics higher temperatures lower the severity of the epidemics.

•Farm animals are affected by warmer temperatures, influencing their performances in growth, milk and wool production, reproduction, health and well-being.

•Increased temperatures may lead to increased demand for water from agriculture and wildlife, including farm livestock. It may also lead to reduced water availability.

•Adaption costs for agriculture, including retraining farmers for new practices, as well as the provision of new irrigation may be considerable.

•The cost of basic food will rise, especially with temperature rises of more than 2.5˚C, as agriculture will not be able to absorb increased costs.

In Minnesota, farmers count on having snow for soil moisture. Will we get rain instead? Or will it be a dry season, with rising fire dangers and poor crop production?

In talking with a friend the other day, she informed me that her garlic is already sprouting.

Hopefully for all those poor confused plants that think spring has really sprung, we don’t get a cold spell.

Despite all these doom and gloom predictions, most people are really enjoying this change in weather.

Personally, I say get out and enjoy the weather, prep those gardens, but don’t plant yet.


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