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What Does Global Warming Mean for Outdoor Growers? Featured

How will global warming affect outdoor growers? How will global warming affect outdoor growers?


Global warming was barely mentioned in the recent presidential election. But from Superstorm Sandy to the drought of 2012, it has become abundantly clear that the days when you could accurately predict the weather are gone. For most of mankind’s growing history, conditions tended to arise on time and on schedule, as nature’s clock set its reliable rhythms. Today’s outdoor growers and traditional farmers have to adapt and adjust to surprises and radical swings in order to survive.

Climate change is the single biggest threat to outdoor growing and traditional farming. As seasons shift and extreme weather conditions become more pronounced, the outdoor farming industry is under siege by the very thing that sustains it: nature. Spring weather comes later in some regions, delaying the outplanting process and thereby shortening the vegetative cycle, which in turn diminishes yields.

My best advice to outdoor growers is to seek out genetics that are early to finish and are very hardy, with high-elevation genetics in the mix.

Torrential rains hit areas that traditionally get low precipitation, contributing to poor yields from lack of direct sunlight, and promoting bud rot. Unusual storms, like hail and wind gusts, sweep down without warning and destroy crops. And finally, early and late frosts threaten to take out plants before they have time to get a foothold or finish properly.

I have directly experienced these dramatic weather changes in my own growing career. Each year it gets more challenging to battle the elements and bring in a good harvest. I plant later and harvest earlier. My genetics have also evolved to reflect this ominous fact of climate change.

Outdoor growing and traditional farming are becoming more and more reliant on genetics that are quick to finish, extremely hardy and disease-resistant because the front and back ends of seasonal changes are the areas most affected by climate change.

My best advice to outdoor growers is to seek out genetics that are early to finish and are very hardy, with high-elevation genetics in the mix. Also, rely less on the seasons being predictable, and prepare for problems like early and late frosts by having the setup and materials at hand to make sudden changes to your program. For example, do not commit your plants to the ground before you are certain the frost is gone and there is little chance of a freak spring cooling. Have materials on hand like frost covers or a greenhouse that you can use to protect you plants until the anomaly passes.

Changing seasons takes on a whole new meaning these days, so be prepared. Happy harvest!

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An overview of global warming from National Geographic.
Last modified on Friday, 29 March 2013 21:08

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