Crops – D Sharma http://dsharma.org/ Tue, 20 Sep 2022 07:00:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://dsharma.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-6-120x120.png Crops – D Sharma http://dsharma.org/ 32 32 Water and Cover Crops – WEST AG INFORMATION NETWORK https://dsharma.org/water-and-cover-crops-west-ag-information-network/ Tue, 20 Sep 2022 07:00:21 +0000 https://dsharma.org/water-and-cover-crops-west-ag-information-network/ Water and cover crops Tim Hammerich Journalist This is Tim Hammerich from the Ag Information Network with your Farm of the Future report. Cover crops have many benefits for the soil, but how are farmers supposed to implement them when they are struggling to get enough water for their main crop? California Ag Solutions President […]]]>

Water and cover crops

Tim Hammerich
Journalist

This is Tim Hammerich from the Ag Information Network with your Farm of the Future report.

Cover crops have many benefits for the soil, but how are farmers supposed to implement them when they are struggling to get enough water for their main crop? California Ag Solutions President Silas Rossow said data shows the benefits of infiltration generally outweigh the additional water applied.

Rossow… “Jeff Mitchell at UC Davis has done a really good job of showing, you know, how much water a cover crop uses in an orchard type setting. And from the research they’ve done, and it’s been pretty thorough, it’s really close to net zero when it comes to consumption when managed properly.

Rossow said these cover crops need to be stopped around May before the dry season hits and before evapotranspiration gets really high.

Rossow… “So we don’t really use a lot of water. And what’s interesting is that when we have rain events here in California, it seems that we get less and less frequency of rain events, but more and more intensity. So bigger storms. When you have cover crops in there, that plant really opens up that soil so that almost all of that water is absorbed right into that soil profile. Cover crops therefore play an important role in allowing this soil to absorb water. Um, as long as you don’t let them go too long in that kind of system, that’s not a problem.

This is Silas Rossow, president of California Ag Solutions.

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Farmers let their crops die amid drought, record heat https://dsharma.org/farmers-let-their-crops-die-amid-drought-record-heat/ Fri, 16 Sep 2022 01:42:31 +0000 https://dsharma.org/farmers-let-their-crops-die-amid-drought-record-heat/ Firebaugh, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Farmers in the Central Valley are letting their crops die amid ongoing drought and record heat this summer. On the west side of Fresno County, thousands of acres of almond trees are being removed because the water supply is not there. Farmer Joe del Bosque says he and his neighbors are […]]]>

Firebaugh, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Farmers in the Central Valley are letting their crops die amid ongoing drought and record heat this summer. On the west side of Fresno County, thousands of acres of almond trees are being removed because the water supply is not there.

Farmer Joe del Bosque says he and his neighbors are sacrificing orchards. The almond trees are uprooted and then crushed later.

Del Bosque says they let some cultures die to save others.

“Within about 2 or 3 miles of my farm, there’s probably at least 2,000 or 3,000 acres of almonds being pulled up,” he said, adding that it takes a good amount water to grow almonds.

“These are trees, so they need water from February to November, while some crops like melons only need water for two and a half months.” He continued.

He is sacrificing one of his two cherry orchards this year. He hasn’t watered 40 acres of trees since May.

” They die. If we had water, we could probably bring them back to life.

This translates into more job cuts.

“When we reduced our melon acreage this year, we probably have half the people we had two years ago working in our melon crop.”

Del Bosque says they are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

“It’s very difficult to prepare, we don’t know what we’re going to have in the rain this winter. We don’t know what our water supply will be. But we must be ready to plant if we have water, so we prepare the ground for planting melons.

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled an $8 billion plan to boost water supplies. The four main goals include creating more stormwater storage, recycling wastewater, using new and more efficient conservation techniques, and desalinating more seawater to convert it into fresh supply. .

“We are very concerned about the future of agriculture here in California because our water supply is very unreliable,” del Bosque said.

The farmer says he continues to use water conservation techniques, like drip irrigation, but even that is not enough.

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Pheromone sought to disrupt insect mating | Harvests https://dsharma.org/pheromone-sought-to-disrupt-insect-mating-harvests/ Wed, 14 Sep 2022 15:30:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/pheromone-sought-to-disrupt-insect-mating-harvests/ Jules Bernstein University of California-Riverside A chemical that disrupts the mating of “bad” weevils and prevents them from destroying avocados is being researched by scientists at the University of California-Riverside. Avocado weevils are small, long-snouted beetles. They bore through fruit to lay eggs. Weevil larvae or grubs burrow into avocado seeds to feed. “They are […]]]>

Jules Bernstein University of California-Riverside

A chemical that disrupts the mating of “bad” weevils and prevents them from destroying avocados is being researched by scientists at the University of California-Riverside. Avocado weevils are small, long-snouted beetles. They bore through fruit to lay eggs. Weevil larvae or grubs burrow into avocado seeds to feed.

“They are extremely difficult to control because they spend most of their time deep inside the fruit where they are well protected from insecticides and natural enemies,” said Mark Hoddle, biocontrol specialist at UC-Riverside. “Insects are also understudied, making information about them difficult to obtain.”

One pest control strategy is to introduce other insects that feed on them. But that’s unlikely to work because the weevils’ natural enemies appear to be rare in areas where the pest is native, Hoddle said.

He works with Jocelyn Millar, an insect-pheromone expert at UC-Riverside. They lead an effort to find the weevil pheromone. They plan to use it to monitor pests and prevent them from breeding in avocado orchards.

“We could flood avocado orchards with so many pheromones that males and females can’t find each other, and therefore can’t reproduce,” Hoddle said. “This would reduce fruit damage and allow growers to use fewer insecticides.”

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Alternative control strategies could include mass trapping using the pheromone as a lure or an “attract and kill” approach. This is where the pheromone attracts the weevils to small sources of insecticide.

Hoddle and UC-Riverside entomology researcher Sean Halloran captured the chemicals that avocado weevils release into the air. Possible formulas of pheromone compounds have been identified from crude extracts and are currently being synthesized in Millar’s lab.

“Weevil pheromones have complicated structures. When made in the lab, they can have either left-handed or right-handed shapes,” Hoddle said.

Initially, Millar’s group mixed the two forms to see if the mixture would work as an attractant. It’s cheaper to make the mix than the individual left or right handed shapes. Fieldwork in Mexico with the pheromone cocktail has not had much response from the weevils. This suggests that one of the forms of the mixture could antagonize the response to the other.

The researchers plan to synthesize individual forms of the chemicals and test the insect response to each in Mexican avocado orchards.

As import levels of avocados from Mexico increase, the risk of an accidental weevil invasion also increases. Hoddle said he hopes the pheromone will be successfully identified and used to reduce the risk the pest poses to avocado growers.

Visit biocontrol.ucr.edu and search for “Mark Hoddle” for more information.

Jules Bernstein is senior public information officer at the University of California-Riverside.

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Elementary students rejoice to harvest school’s first week summer crops https://dsharma.org/elementary-students-rejoice-to-harvest-schools-first-week-summer-crops/ Wed, 14 Sep 2022 05:03:29 +0000 https://dsharma.org/elementary-students-rejoice-to-harvest-schools-first-week-summer-crops/ Six-year-old Pippa-Jo Murffit with the tomatoes in the greenhouse Pupils at St Mary’s Primary School, Mucklestone, near Market Drayton, were eager to see how their fruit and vegetables had grown over the summer holidays. It comes after students and staff worked hard to prepare the ground and, with the help of staff members, planted fresh […]]]>
Six-year-old Pippa-Jo Murffit with the tomatoes in the greenhouse

Pupils at St Mary’s Primary School, Mucklestone, near Market Drayton, were eager to see how their fruit and vegetables had grown over the summer holidays.

It comes after students and staff worked hard to prepare the ground and, with the help of staff members, planted fresh produce, including tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Tom Braithwaite, 10; Pippa-Jo Murffit, six; Penelope Nixon, eight; and Jack Vodrey, 10, with their fruits and vegetables

The school grounds once housed an orchard and vegetable garden, so staff and students are surrounded by fruit trees and space to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The idea came from a parent who wanted to develop the school’s vegetable garden and the students wanted to weed and tidy the area in preparation for something new.

Clare Hill, Head of St Mary’s Primary School, said: “One of the first things the pupils wanted to see when they got back to school was the garden and all the wonderful things that had grown.

Tom Braithwaite, 10, with sweet corn

“They were excited to pick and harvest them. It was part of our science curriculum. Some of the children have parents who are avid gardeners and were very excited about having a school garden.

“We think it’s great for the children to learn how to grow plants and take care of them. It has been good for the well-being to spend time outside in the garden and watch it grow.

Penelope Nixon, 8, and Jack Vodrey, 10

“The staff at St Mary’s see this as an important life skill which will bring them great pleasure. We were delighted with our harvest of beans, courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes and raspberries.

“The maize is not ready yet, but we are looking forward to harvesting it. »

The students have grown so much fresh produce that staff are now planning to hold a fruit and vegetable sale outside the school this month to raise money for the Friends Parent-Teacher Association.

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Floods damage up to 91% of minor crops https://dsharma.org/floods-damage-up-to-91-of-minor-crops/ Fri, 09 Sep 2022 18:56:26 +0000 https://dsharma.org/floods-damage-up-to-91-of-minor-crops/ Minor crops including oilseeds, pulses, vegetables and orchards spanning thousands of hectares have been destroyed due to the recent unprecedented monsoon rains and widespread flooding in the country. Flash floods destroyed about 55% of oilseed crops in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as the crop was grown on 432 acres during the current season, an official with […]]]>

Minor crops including oilseeds, pulses, vegetables and orchards spanning thousands of hectares have been destroyed due to the recent unprecedented monsoon rains and widespread flooding in the country.

Flash floods destroyed about 55% of oilseed crops in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as the crop was grown on 432 acres during the current season, an official with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research said.

Speaking to APP here on Friday, he said that of the total area under oilseeds, about 237 acres were damaged in the province, while the floods subsided, different vegetables grown on 938 acres in the province.

More than 2% of orchards over 98 acres were also destroyed, he said, adding that 26% of pulses grown on 863 acres were also damaged due to flooding.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 91% of dates were damaged as 2,556 acres of date production were destroyed due to a recent calamity, he said, adding that 6% of the tobacco crop had also been damaged. been damaged.

Meanwhile, in Balochistan, orchards of over 21,960 acres were damaged in the recent floods, while various seasonal vegetables grown on 14,882 acres were also destroyed.
The official further informed that the flood also damaged date palms growing on 101,379 acres in Sindh, adding that Kharif chillies grown on 29,622 acres were also destroyed.

Onion crops over 42,268 acres were damaged due to recent floods, he said Sindh onion was an important cash crop and a vital source to meet domestic needs.
Meanwhile, tomatoes grow over 12,101 acres and Kharif vegetables on 30,718 acres have also been damaged due to recent floods and rains due to which the prices of these commodities have spiked.

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Dry summer weather could harm pumpkin crops | Berks Regional News https://dsharma.org/dry-summer-weather-could-harm-pumpkin-crops-berks-regional-news/ Mon, 05 Sep 2022 21:38:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/dry-summer-weather-could-harm-pumpkin-crops-berks-regional-news/ Dry summer weather can hurt some favorite fall crops like pumpkins, but local farmers are trying to stay optimistic. In less than three weeks, pumpkin season will officially be here, and local farmer Josh Grim says he’s been waiting for it all year. “I’m really excited for this year, like I said, we haven’t really […]]]>

Dry summer weather can hurt some favorite fall crops like pumpkins, but local farmers are trying to stay optimistic.

In less than three weeks, pumpkin season will officially be here, and local farmer Josh Grim says he’s been waiting for it all year.

“I’m really excited for this year, like I said, we haven’t really done a lot of capital improvements like in the past, so we’ve been able to tweak a lot of things,” he said. .

At Grim’s Orchard and Family Farms, visitors will have the opportunity to pick pumpkins, take hay rides and sample seasonal dishes. And while there’s still plenty to do before opening day, weather conditions are a major concern at this time of year.

“This year as we all know we have just had 7-8 weeks of fairly dry weather, luckily we have plenty of irrigation including pipes and pumps in place. We are growing 25 acres of mixed pumpkins there. and we have free ponds and irrigation systems, but our harvest load is not as heavy as last year,” Grim said.

Farmers say pumpkins usually reach full size in 45 days, but dry weather has produced fewer this year. To combat this, Wilcox Farms in Boyertown plans to bring a cart of pre-picked pumpkins to its customers.

“The biggest issue is always the weather, it’s something you can’t control, with this year it’s been a really hot year and not a lot of rain,” said Steve Schultz, owner of Wilcox Farms.

Despite the weather, Grim says his staff will still be available to help families pick their vegetables and enjoy fall treats and entertainment before the opening next week.

“We are over here. We are still getting registrations this week, but I think this year we will be in better shape than before for opening day,” said Grim.

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Valuable rice, cotton and vegetable crops destroyed, says Memon https://dsharma.org/valuable-rice-cotton-and-vegetable-crops-destroyed-says-memon/ Sun, 04 Sep 2022 04:31:41 +0000 https://dsharma.org/valuable-rice-cotton-and-vegetable-crops-destroyed-says-memon/ CARACHI: Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said crops spread over 4,420,484 acres have been destroyed by recent rains and floods in the province. Valuable cotton, rice and vegetable crops have been 100% destroyed, which will lead to a huge loss of exports and food shortages are feared in the future. He said 100% of […]]]>

CARACHI:

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said crops spread over 4,420,484 acres have been destroyed by recent rains and floods in the province. Valuable cotton, rice and vegetable crops have been 100% destroyed, which will lead to a huge loss of exports and food shortages are feared in the future.

He said 100% of the date harvest has been affected. If the water situation remains the same for the coming month, mango trees and orchards will also be affected. A mango tree takes eight years to bear fruit.

In a press conference, he said that in the current situation, the nation needs unity. The minister stressed on mutual communication between philanthropists, NGOs and the government of Sindh and called on philanthropists and non-governmental organizations to keep in touch with PDMA to provide assistance to each affected person so that help can reach people far away. areas.

Sharjeel said so far 559 people have lost their lives and 21,891 are injured. In addition, 1,465,941 houses were affected by the floods, of which 556,120 were completely destroyed, while the rest were partially damaged. He further said that 9,788,969 people from 1,675,817 families have been affected, 6,278,007 are homeless.

In addition, 6,278,007 people have been moved to relief camps, where they receive standard cooked meals and sanitation facilities.

Memon said people in the villages lost 103,066 head of cattle. He said the Sindh government has also started vaccination to protect livestock from diseases. The Provincial Information Minister said that the first priority of the Sindh government is to save the lives of the people in the affected areas and in the second phase, the comprehensive rehabilitation of the victims will be initiated.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4e2022.

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Alternative crops and technologies are helping fruit growers in northern Australia adapt to labor shortages https://dsharma.org/alternative-crops-and-technologies-are-helping-fruit-growers-in-northern-australia-adapt-to-labor-shortages/ Sun, 28 Aug 2022 01:36:40 +0000 https://dsharma.org/alternative-crops-and-technologies-are-helping-fruit-growers-in-northern-australia-adapt-to-labor-shortages/ Acres of tall leafy trees on Western Australia’s largest banana plantation have been replaced by bright fields of cotton, with a critical shortage of staff making fiber more economically viable than fruit. Key points: Farmers running WA’s largest banana farm are replacing more than half their plantation with cotton due to a labor shortage Northern […]]]>

Acres of tall leafy trees on Western Australia’s largest banana plantation have been replaced by bright fields of cotton, with a critical shortage of staff making fiber more economically viable than fruit.

For the first time in 27 years of farming, the Dobson family have picked a crop of cotton, after destroying more than a third of their banana plantation in the Ord Valley last year.

As the 40 employees typically needed to pick the bananas at the 120-hectare plantation dwindled to just five workers last season, Lachlan Dobson said the family had no choice but to reduce the size of their crop by bananas.

This involved clearing 50 hectares of trees and looking for a profitable replacement.

“If we had left it, it would have introduced some sort of pretty big biosecurity issue for the remaining plantation, so it needed to be removed,” he said.

“We sat down and did a kind of analysis to try to figure out what low-intensity crop we could grow that would give us the best returns and cotton won it quite comfortably.

“The yields we’re going to get from bananas are more than 10 times what we’d get from cotton, but without any labor we couldn’t make progress with bananas.

The transition was difficult, with land clearing, new irrigation infrastructure and contractors needed to plant and harvest fibrous plants.

But Mr Dobson said the investment had paid off, with the property’s demand for labor now much lower.

“We can manage the cotton by jumping on a motorbike and driving around every morning for about 20 minutes just to make sure the irrigation system has worked and everything is running and that’s basically all the work you do” , did he declare.

“The benefit is going to be that we’re actually going to look back on those 50 hectares that we’ve planted.”

The Dobsons plan to clear an additional 40 hectares and expand their cotton plantations to 90 hectares next season.

In the long term, Mr. Dobson hoped that the eventual return of labor to the property would allow a quick return to bananas.

“We have the ability to change cultures quite quickly,” he said.

“We’ll just sit back and wait to see what the labor market looks like.”

Turn to technology

While crop changes are possible for some, mango growers in northern Australia are turning to technology to help manage staff shortages.

The machine vision platform helps mango growers predict their crop size and harvest time.(Provided: Professor Kerry Walsh)

New “machine vision rigs” scan an orchard while attached to a moving vehicle, using light detection and ranging, machine vision and time-of-flight cameras to make harvest estimates from the time of flowering.

This means growers can better predict crop yields and the number of employees they will need to reap their rewards.

“If you know how much volume you need to harvest at any given time, you can really, really fine-tune the number of staff you need at that time,” said Martina Matzner, a researcher at Central Queensland University and former mango producer.

“We are all in some way in competition for these resources, so if we can better align our forecasts and we all know what crops we are producing at what particular time, well rather than competing, we can actually share these resources. “

Ms Matzner said there had been increased interest in WA’s technology following the labor crisis.

A robotic future?

Central Queensland University is planning to take the technology a step further and develop a mango picking robot to reduce the industry’s reliance on seasonal workers.

A yellow mango in the grip of a tiny robotic hand
Lack of personnel was the main driver for the development of the mango picking robot.(Provided: Professor Kerry Walsh)

The technology uses the same camera technology as the machine vision platform, combined with 12 mechanical arms to simultaneously pick mangoes from trees.

Professor Kerry Walsh said a major field trial was taking place in Katherine next month to assess the effectiveness of the machine.

“Getting it to move through the whole tree quickly, that’s where we’re at,” he said.

“Then we will look to bring it into a business partner to take it to the next stage and integrate it into a harvest aid.”

Mr Walsh said staff shortages were the “key driver” for the development of the technology.

“It’s hard work, you’re in the middle of summer with 40 degree heat with an acid sap, you’re not going to attract people to work easily,” he said.

“It is surprising [manual picking] lasted so long.”

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Floods destroy houses, crops and affect 0.2m in Charsadda https://dsharma.org/floods-destroy-houses-crops-and-affect-0-2m-in-charsadda/ Sun, 28 Aug 2022 00:55:44 +0000 https://dsharma.org/floods-destroy-houses-crops-and-affect-0-2m-in-charsadda/ CHARSADDA/NOWSHERA: Floods continued to devastate large parts of the region, affecting more than 0.2 million people and destroying homes and other structures, crops and orchards in Charsadda district on the second day of Saturday. The floods created over 300 feet of breach in the headworks of Munda, causing flash floods in the Jindi River which […]]]>

CHARSADDA/NOWSHERA: Floods continued to devastate large parts of the region, affecting more than 0.2 million people and destroying homes and other structures, crops and orchards in Charsadda district on the second day of Saturday.

The floods created over 300 feet of breach in the headworks of Munda, causing flash floods in the Jindi River which runs through the district and the gushing water washed away everything in its path.

The flood submerged a large area, including houses and crops in various places in the district.

People residing along the banks of rivers, seasonal streams and nullahs have already started moving to safer places.

Floodwaters inundated thousands of homes, markets, shops and damaged infrastructure in addition to destroying crops, vegetable and fruit orchards.

Temporary shelters have been established in government buildings including schools and colleges to accommodate those affected by the floods.

The provincial government and district administration have already ordered people residing along the banks of rivers, streams and nullahs in particular and the general public to move to safer places in the district.

The Swat River was in high spate at Munda and Khiyali points as the water level rose over time.

The flooding of the Swat River at Khiyali point affected villages and towns in various union councils of Tangi tehsil including Abazai, Katozai, Tarnab, Agrah, Mirzadher, Nisatta, Dheri Zardad and others.

The district administration, Tehsil Municipal Administration and Rescue 1122 have launched rescue and relief activities in the flood affected areas.

Those affected were moved in vehicles and boats to temporary shelters established in safer locations at Abdul Wali Khan Sports Complex, Postgraduate College Charsadda and schools and colleges in Tangi, Kot Tarnab and others.

Affected people received essential food items, safety kits and medicines. The administration has already canceled holidays for staff of the TMA and other civic agencies.

Local public officials, ministers and officials including Taimur Salim Jhagra, Fazal Shakoor Khan, Assistant Commissioner Abdur Rahman, Additional Assistant Commissioner Sania Safi and others visited flood-affected areas and monitored relief activities .

According to the Flood Warning Center (FWC), very heavy flooding was also reported in the Kabul River at the Adezai Bridge in Nowshera with 90,200 cusec of water. The floods also inundated several villages in Nowshera where the army established a relief camp to help people. Residents of the lower elevations had been moved to safer locations on Friday evening following the flooding emergency. Nowshera district administration officials said the water level in the river had started to drop and the emergency was likely to end within three hours.

In Mardan, the district administration has established relief camps for flood affected people from Nowshera and Charsadda districts in different schools in the district. 10 families and 53 people affected by the floods have reached Mardan, the deputy commissioner added.

(ADC) Relief and Human Rights Aasma Arif said. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has placed all rescue and relief agencies and civic bodies at the top

alert to deal with the emerging situation caused by torrential rains and subsequent flooding in Swat, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and elsewhere in the province.

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When climate-related weather events damage crops, what options do farmers have? https://dsharma.org/when-climate-related-weather-events-damage-crops-what-options-do-farmers-have/ Tue, 23 Aug 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://dsharma.org/when-climate-related-weather-events-damage-crops-what-options-do-farmers-have/ In recent years, an increase in extreme weather events makes this a particularly difficult time to be a farmer. Historically, crop insurance and disaster relief programs have been instrumental in protecting farmers against financial loss from natural causes. But some argue that the federal crop insurance program does not encourage farmers to adapt. Recent research […]]]>

In recent years, an increase in extreme weather events makes this a particularly difficult time to be a farmer. Historically, crop insurance and disaster relief programs have been instrumental in protecting farmers against financial loss from natural causes. But some argue that the federal crop insurance program does not encourage farmers to adapt. Recent research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has highlighted this issue, emphasizing that adaptation will be key to responding to long-term climate change.

The role of emergency relief

Many specialty crops – a technical label that includes fruits, vegetables and other non-grain crops – are not eligible for USDA crop insurance. For farmers without federally subsidized USDA crop insurance, the losses can be catastrophic. In the summer of 2021, some raspberry and blackberry growers in Oregon suffered a disastrous season, with significant crop losses when temperatures reached record highs in June. Darcy Kochis of the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission was among those working to secure support for growers facing extreme losses. After the worst of the heat, the Commission began contacting the state government. “We brought people to the fields,” Kochis says. Representatives saw the damage firsthand, and after much work, the Disaster Assistance program for crops affected by extreme weather conditions was put in place. The program is structured as a forgivable loan.

Oregon’s Disaster Assistance Program fills gaps in federal disaster programs and, after an extraordinary season, it was a boon for farmers. But even if the plants survived, cautious optimism for this year might be overdone. “You can never be sure,” Kochis says. “You can never be sure that the year is going to be great, because last year 50% of the crop was burned at the last minute.

While disaster relief programs can help growers survive a particularly difficult season, they are less helpful in a future when weather-related disruptions become more common. This is where other adaptations come in.

Adaptation and resilience strategies

Switching to different varieties could be a long-term solution for some field farmers. “There are varieties that are drought tolerant, on the other side there are varieties of corn and soybeans that do better in wetter soils,” says Anne Schechinger, director of EWG Midwest, although it recognizes that replacing crops with alternatives is trickier. “In the maize belt, farmers really have all their equipment set up for one or two crops,” she says.

For perennial crop farmers — like Oregon berry growers — switching strategies can be an even more complex and time-consuming undertaking.

Higher summer temperatures in the Pacific Northwest may become a trend, and research is underway to develop new varieties of berries, some of which may prove more heat tolerant. For example, the Columbia Star blackberry is one of the newer varieties and it appears to be less susceptible to ultraviolet radiation and heat damage. But Kochis says these longer-term solutions are very slow to materialize. “The breeding program has to do on-farm trials, they have to do variety selection,” she says. This is a process that can take years. Meanwhile, the weather berry growers have to contend with could become increasingly erratic.

Andrew Byers is chief cider house and co-owner of Finnriver Farm and Cidery, which grows its own apples on 80 acres of certified organic farmland on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. He explains that they have started making changes to the way they farm, keeping the long-term water forecast in mind. “It kind of got us to look at the fragility of high-density monoculture,” Byers says. The farm is moving away from high yielding dwarf trees in favor of taller trees with deeper roots. “We frame them as resilience strategies,” says Byers. He explains that tall trees will be much better equipped to survive heat events. “They’re much more likely to be able to tap into groundwater on their own terms,” ​​he says. “They will need less irrigation.”

While the Finnriver team is already working towards a more robust orchard based on long-term plans, it could be difficult for farmers who react directly to weather events to make changes in the weather, while dealing with more frequent disastrous harvests.

Survival alone is not enough

Even with coping strategies, agriculture in some areas could need a major overhaul. In cases where land and resources have become significantly stressed, some environmentalists believe it no longer makes sense to grow certain crops in areas where they were previously grown.

In regions where resources such as water are scarce, existing crops must be grown differently, and scientists strive to provide information that will help farmers make critical decisions. For example, at UC Davis, the “Torture Orchard” project is designed to find improved genetics for farmers. The team tested the resistance of pistachio and walnut rootstocks to “torture” by placing them under drought stress. Although none of the pistachio trees died, as Associate Professor Pat Brown points out, “just surviving is not enough. What we really need to look at is how much food we can produce with water limitations. .”

The western United States is currently experiencing a multi-year drought that is the widest and most intense in the 22-year history of the US Drought Monitor. What you have to consider in California, says Brown, is the economic value of the crops versus the water applied. Sometimes it’s a bad deal. Brown points out that in Sicily, farmers can grow pistachios with ten times less water than in California. “They don’t get 10% of the return, they get 50% of the return,” he says. “They are five times more efficient in terms of water use.” Asking California farmers to try to use less water could be difficult. “It’s always hard to convince someone to do something that might impact their livelihood,” Brown says, but adds that it’s clear what’s brewing in terms of California’s water throttling. . “It could be that in the not-too-distant future they won’t have a choice whether or not to reduce the water,” he says. “There won’t be enough water for everyone.”

Growers across the country are heeding this harsh new climate reality. Byers mentions a currant farm in Oregon that supplies additional products to his cider house; it was nearly burned down by forest fires two years ago and its harvest was cut in half last year due to heat damage. “It certainly seems unstable,” he says. “If I had to make a climate-inspired decision on what to grow, I would choose to put things that are more adaptable, which means less commitment and easier to change. And I don’t know if those would be trees.”

Removing Barriers to Climate Adaptation

When resources are overstretched or disasters become too frequent, some agronomists believe it no longer makes sense to grow certain crops in areas where they were previously grown. But even when culture change becomes a financial and environmental necessity, it can be financially and culturally challenging. Overcoming these barriers may require adopting policies that help farmers manage this potentially costly transition.

But some existing crop insurance policies could be an obstacle to this change. Schechinger points out that crop insurance could encourage farmers to continue planting crops in areas where they are increasingly unsuitable, by financially protecting farmers from rising rates of crop failure. “We know that crop insurance impacts the crops farmers plant,” Schechinger says. “It’s really, really important to adjust crop insurance so that it helps farmers adapt to climate change.”

EWG crop insurance data shows that between 1995 and 2020, $143.5 billion in federal crop insurance payments were made to farmers, and the majority of the payments were for crop damage due drought and excess humidity, two factors that have worsened as a result of the climate emergency. In his research, Schechinger points out that when a crop is primarily covered by crop insurance, farmers often lack sufficient incentive to adopt adaptive practices. Reducing premium subsidies for the most at-risk farmers could encourage a drop in production, she argues, pointing out that the savings could be used to help farmers retire farmland permanently.

Schechinger also points out that conservation practices will be essential in the longer term. Reduced tillage in drought areas means the soil doesn’t get as hot, and cover crops planted during the winter season can be a big help. “It’s really good for more rain and less rain,” Schechinger points out. “It boosts soil health, it keeps soil compaction from getting worse. It will contribute to great climate variability in the future.”

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