Unique challenges and opportunities for northeastern US crop production in a changing climate
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Climate change may both exacerbate the vulnerabilities and open up new opportunities for farming in the Northeastern USA. Among the opportunities are double-cropping and new crop options that may come with warmer temperatures and a longer frost-free period. However, prolonged periods of spring rains in recent years have delayed planting and offset the potentially beneficial longer frost-free period.Water management will be a serious challenge for Northeast farmers in the future, with projections for increased frequency of heavy rainfall events, as well as projections for more frequent summer water deficits than this historically humid region has experienced in the past. Adaptations to increase resilience to such changes include expanded irrigation capacity, modernized water monitoring and irrigation scheduling, farm drainage systems that collect excess rain into ponds for use as a water source during dry periods, and improved soil water holding capacity and drainage. Among the greatest vulnerabilities over the next several decades for the economically important perennial fruit crop industry of the region is an extended period of spring frost risk associated with warmer winter and early spring temperatures. Improved real-time frost warning systems, careful site selection for new plantings, and use of misting, wind machine, or other frost protection measures will be important adaptation strategies. Increased weed and pest pressure associated with longer growing seasons and warmer winters is another increasingly important challenge. Pro-active development of non-chemical control strategies, improved regional monitoring, and rapidresponse plans for targeted control of invasive weeds and pests will be necessary.
Wolfe, David W.; DeGaetano, Arthur T.; Peck, Gregory M.; Carey, Mary; Ziska, Lewis H.; Lea-Cox, John; Kemanian, Armen R.; Hoffmann, Michael P.; Hollinger, David Y. 2018. Unique challenges and opportunities for northeastern US crop production in a changing climate. Climatic Change. 146(1-2): 231-245. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-017-2109-7.