- Author: Ben Faber
That's a good question. Some question whether they flourish now. Southern California does not have the landscapes of apples, pears and peaches of Oregon, Michigan, Pennsylvania or even Fresno, but there are nice little niches of persimmon, low chill apple, and even blueberries that thrive in the lower winter chilling environments along the coast and in the south of California.
Here is an example of what might happen to this fruit industry here. A recent, detailed study extrapolate the accumulation of cold periods in Spain over the next 30 years and to the end of the century. This provides growers with important information on the viability of future fruit cultivation in the various Spanish regions, as it allows them to know if there will be the necessary accumulated cold for the fruits to grow correctly or if they should relocate their crops to other areas.
The results obtained show a general reduction in the accumulation of cold in any future period for all the chilling models and scenarios considered. The reduction is especially significant at the end of the century, under the most pessimistic scenario. These results invite us to strongly commit, not only to adapt but also to mitigate climate change, something that would make an important difference. The probable reduction of cold would threaten the viability of some varieties of fruit trees in the near future, especially in regions where there is currently a low accumulation of cold and there are varieties that require a lot of it.
The study can be viewed at:
Climate change discussions for California can be found at these websites:
An intriguing Santa Barbara apple study grower's observations are worth noting: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/Topics/index.cfm?start=1&tagname=apples
By the way the 'Moor Park' apricot is not from Moorpark, CA, but from England and the variety has never done very well in Moorpark (http://www.ngr.ucdavis.edu/treedetails.cfm?v=997).
- Author: Ben Faber
The drought has caused numerous conditions – physiological and pathological – that I have only seen in text books (see our newsletter article: http://ceventura.ucanr.edu/newsletters/Topics_in_Subtropics63007.pdf). But other phenomena are also occurring. Recently I saw a field of blackberries in full bloom and the other day a grower called in about a plum tree that was also in full bloom. What is going on? This is supposed to happen late winter/early spring. It turns out that often drought stress can supplant winter chill in some plant species. In this case, these two species are relatively low chill, meaning they don't require a lot of cold to break winter bud dormancy. The drought stress causes the buds to break dormancy.
This is similar to the “Verdelli” effect in lemons. This is a technique used to shift the period of optimum fruit production to a more profitable period, usually the summer when more lemons are used. In the case of plum and blackberry and other low chill deciduous tree crops, this would be pushing production into the coldest period of the year. It might work along the coast, but in the Central Valley it would probably just mean frozen fruit. But it's a possible method that we might play with.
Photo: October, 2016