In Alaska, each year, the first frost is arriving later and later, a development that could be a positive for Alaska farmers. University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Glenna Gannon says the longer growing season is making some types of crops possible for the first time. “We’re successfully able to grow things like artichokes and field-grown tomatoes, peppers and corn here in Fairbanks. I don’t think, you know, 30 or even 10 years ago, that would have been successful.”
Gannon runs crop trials at the university’s experiment farm, where nine out of the 10 latest first frosts on record have occurred since 2001. For many places, especially in the Interior, that shift is allowing farmers to keep their crops in the field through mid-September.
Hot summers will become more and more common for many regions across the state, according to climate researcher Nancy Fresco with the university’s International Arctic Research Center. Fresco develops climate models to predict Alaska’s agricultural future. “We’re anticipating continued increases in both the length of the growing season — how many frost-free days — but also in the cumulative heat across the growing seasons,” she said.