Australia: Climate change means smaller strawberries, higher costs

Strawberries appear to be the latest victims of a changing climate. Also, as smaller strawberries take longer to pick, production costs are rising along with temperatures. This means lower returns for growers and possible price hikes at the checkouts.

The principal horticulturist at Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Christopher Menzel, said field tests at the Nambour research centre showed that as air temperatures rose the size of the fruit dropped. "With [climate change] even here at Nambour the records show the night temperatures have gone up by about 3 degrees over the past 50 to 60 years, which is quite significant," he told abc.net.au. "The size of the fruit is very sensitive to temperatures. What we've found is as the temperature increased, as you went from winter to spring, the fruit became smaller."

"A plant with small fruit is a lot more expensive to pick than a plant with large fruit," Menzel added. "Towards the end of the season, it might take you four times [the initial time] to pick the fruit than it did earlier in the season."


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