Posts Tagged: climate change
UC Davis genetic resources analyst Adi Damania responded in a letter to the Woodland Daily Democrat to an article on global warming published in the same newspaper by another UC Davis researcher.
The original article, summarized in this blog entry, provided details of a new report about the projected impact of global warming on Yolo County agriculture.
Damania made the point that plant genetics may be the ticket to maintaining a viable agriculture industry in a warmer climate with less rain. Adapting to global warming, he wrote, "will require a change in (plants') genetic composition."
". . . we may have to once more turn to the wild germplasm gene pool in order to overcome stress to our current crops from climate change," according to the letter.
The second half of the letter lamented the fact that, due to recent financial cuts in California state funding, the ANR Genetic Resources Conservation Program was "ordered to be shut down," threatening farmers' and scientists' ability to overcome the probable agricultural complications posed by climate change.
"The closure will make it all the more difficult for California to face the challenges that lie ahead in the near future as regards its agricultural production," Damania wrote.
UC scientists have outlined specific changes to Yolo County agriculture expected over the next 50 years because of global climate change. A preview of the scientific report appeared in an article in the Woodland Daily Democrat by UC Davis Cooperative Extension plant physiologist Louise Jackson.
According to the article, some likely effects of global warming in Yolo County are:
Warm-season horticultural crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn and peppers) will be less viable, encouraging a shift to hot-season crops such as melon and sweet potato.
Grains will benefit very slightly from elevated carbon dioxide concentrations.
Higher temperatures will decrease yields of walnuts and table grapes, but almonds may be less sensitive.
Almonds, walnuts and citrus will benefit from a decline in winter freezes.
The article said that the projections in the report have not adequately considered the potential for adaptation, and are based on current agricultural practices and crop varieties.
"Support for investments in technology, plant breeding and cropping system research will be necessary to ensure yield reliability, and greater agricultural sustainability," Jackson wrote.
Other projected effects of global climate change outlined in Jackson's article:
Precipitation may be higher, lower or similar to current conditions.
More Sierra Nevada precipitation will arrive as rainfall, and snowmelt will come earlier in spring.
Western Yolo County, where agriculture relies on local rainfall and Coast Range water supplies, may be more vulnerable to water shortages. Eastern Yolo County is expected to be less vulnerable to water shortages.
Reduced Sierra snowpack will increase flooding along the Sacramento River, presenting economic and ecological tradeoffs for ecosystem restoration vs. farming.
Rangeland livestock production in grasslands and woodlands along the western margin of the county will be particularly vulnerable to future drought.
Jackson's article said the report will soon be released by the California Energy Commission, which provided financial backing for the study.