Climate change may mean new crop strategy
West Lafayette, Ind. (UPI) Dec 6, 2010
Farmers in the U.S. Midwest could get permanent Southern-style weather if future climate change projections are accurate, researchers say.
Scientists at Purdue University say warmer average temperatures and precipitation extremes in the Corn Belt could force farmers to shift to more climate-appropriate crops or management strategies, a university release said Monday.
Indiana's climate by the year 2100 could be like that of Virginia in the winter and Oklahoma in the summer, Purdue agricultural economist Otto Doering says.
Winter temperatures in Virginia average in the mid- to upper 40s, and Oklahoma summer days regularly top 90 degrees.
As the climate changes, farmers will be confronted with major meteorological challenges, Doering says.
"Rainfall variability with a smaller number of storms over the growing season and more intense storms are things we'll have to watch out for," Doering says.
"Then there's temperature. One area of concern is warmer winters," he says. "That might mean pests wouldn't be wiped out as much like on those days in January where it's below zero and the cold permeates the ground."
A possible benefit from warmer annual temperatures is the prospect of more farmers growing soybeans and winter wheat in the same crop year.
"Double cropping," as it is called, is practiced in Indiana mostly in southern counties because temperatures warm earlier in the spring and remain warm later into the fall.
"I think we'll see more of the soybean-wheat double crop moving northward in Indiana, to the point where in 30 or 40 years we may see this kind of opportunity very viable for central Indiana," Doering said.
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