Climate change may also present a potential opportunity for agriculture with a longer growing seasons, though producers may be limited by water availability and limited adaptive capacity.
Increased growing season
Oregon’s $48.5 billion agriculture industry (2015) is a cornerstone of the state’s economy. By mid-century in the higher emissions scenario, parts of western Oregon will see a lengthening of the growing season by about 2 months, and the rest of the state would see an increase of about a month. Warmth will arrive earlier in the spring and last longer in the fall.
Though some crops may thrive in a longer growing season, concerns about the incidence of:
Pests and Weeds
Reduced Crop Quality
may hamper production.
Water Supply + Agriculture
Shifts in timing of water supply, such as earlier snowmelt and declining summer flows, can adversely impact irrigated crop productivity, particularly where access to reservoir water storage and/or groundwater is limited.
Planning studies for Northwest reservoirs suggest a significant increased need for reservoir storage to meet future summer irrigation demands under climate change scenarios.
Heat stress can lead to...
Sunburn scald on apples and softer berry crops which then get damaged in transportation and harvest.
Decreased fruit quality and lower selling prices for farmers.
Decreased livestock health and increased parasite abundance.
Reduced forage quality and quantity which impacts the amount of feed farmers have to buy per animal.
Adaptive Agricultural Approaches in Practice
Farmers and ranchers across the Northwest are creating resilient agro-ecosystems to reduce weather and climate-related risks while meeting economic, conservation, and adaptation goals.