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Implications of Climate Change for Cranberry Production in the Northeast / Great Lakes Region

March 11th, 2010

An interesting report by the US Global Change Research Program predicts that the US could be in store for significant reductions in overall total yield–at the national level, by the middle of this century–for fruits such as cranberries due to the failure to satisfy the chilling requirement (the chilling requirement is particularly high for cranberry).  In other words, cranberry agriculture in New Jersey and Massachusetts will, they predict, be in serious jeopardy by the middle of this century unless our current course of climate warming is somehow reversed or slowed down below their current models/expectations.  By contrast, the climate for the Great Lakes region as it relates to fruit production is expected to improve. However, even in those regions, the risk of plant frost damage is expected to rise due to the impacts of the ‘warming’, ironically, due to earlier onsets of spring-time conditions, essentially waking the plants up from their winter dormancy earlier than might be ‘wise’ (from a plant survival perspective) when faced with the danger of a late-season frost.  If you are a cranberry plant, do you really want to have lots of new and tender tissues present when such a frost takes place? From a strictly survival standpoint, such a scenario would, of course, be risky.

You can read the entire report at this address (for cranberries, look for the paragraph that begins with the word, “Fruits”): www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/climate-change-impacts-by-sector/agriculture

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