A farmer's perspective on climate change
While most urbanites were in heaven with the unusual 70 and 80 degree highs in March, the fruit growers in the Upper Midwest were fearful of what would happen to all the fruit buds and blossoms that opened two to three weeks ahead of normal.
And their worst fears were realized the mornings of April 10th, 11th, and 12th. Temperatures as low as 19 degrees meant starting up the irrigation to protect emerging buds in blueberry and strawberry fields, and hiring helicopters to hover over the apple orchards and stir up the layers of cold/warm air. Here at the Bauer Berry Farm, we ran our irrigation for more than 6 hours each night, something we had previously only needed to do to protect the fruit blossoms, not the buds. As you can see from the photos, the blueberry buds had started to open and were vulnerable at 20 to 25 degrees. Our strawberry buds were still in the crown, but could only withstand 20 degrees. At daybreak, after six hours or more of water freezing and releasing just enough heat in the process, we viewed the amazing beauty created by all that ice. What a heavy cost, though, considering all the diesel fuel burned to pump all that water. Another observation of climate change occurred last year, with most every rain event. Heavy downpours caused wash outs in the fields and erosion carrying away valuable topsoil. What happened to the gentle rain phenomenon?