Climate change is impacting Delaware agriculture

Delaware Public Media’s Sophia Schmidt recently interviewed Emmalea Ernest and David Owens from the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension on the effects of climate change. The average temperature change over the last decade — about .5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit — may seem negligible, but has literally changed growing seasons in Delaware, sometimes by weeks.

In theory, extended growing seasons mean more time to grow more produce to sell to more buyers, equaling more profits. Alas, it’s not that simple. High summer night temperatures may lead to altering, but not necessarily extending, a growing season to avoid the heat stress on plants in July and August. Warmer winters may mean an increase of pests, as some may not die odd seasonally due to the cold like they used to.

“Fall crops may have an extended season– cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts,” Earnest said in the DPM interview. “The extension on the front end in the spring might allow some things like tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and sweet corn to be planted earlier. It creates opportunities, but it also produces uncertainty.”


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