Valley fruit and nut crops threatened by climate change

Jul 22, 2009
Climate change is not just about sea-level rise and polar bears, UC Davis researcher Eike Luedeling told the Los Angeles Times for a story in today's paper. Climate change, he said, threatens U.S. food security.

Luedeling's dire prediction was included in a story about new UC Davis research that shows winter chill hours in the San Joaquin Valley could decrease 60 percent from 1950 levels by mid-century and by as much as 80 percent by the end of the century. The reduction in winter chill, a vital component of many fruit and nut tree's growth cycle, means the valley may ultimately become unsuitable for many of the crops currently grown there. The story, written by Margot Roosevelt, was prompted by a release issued by UC Davis news service about research being published today in the online journal PLoS One.

The UC Davis study builds on a 2007 paper by UC Berkeley scientists Dennis Baldocchi and Simon Wong that predicted dramatic drops in winter chilling hours, the Time story said.

"The irony is, just as the populace is getting more in tune with eating better, eating local, our wonderful fruit industry may be negatively affected," Baldocchi was quoted in the Times.

The story also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and on the Discovery Channel news Web site.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist