11 Jun 2012
While this summer seems to look like summers past, we’ve all heard about the impact that this year’s weird Michigan spring had on Michigan’s fruit crops. Conventional wisdom is the hot March followed by a cold and wet later spring will result in the worst fruit crops in 50+ years – see reports here, here and here (90+% reductions in farm yields!) .
This is a boon for those farmers whose crops were spared and a disaster for those whose weren’t. While we don’t know if this was an isolated freak season or not, but what if this is a harbinger of things to come? What could this mean for Michigan and the world? Well, there are folks studying this and, among other things, we could be looking at less and more expensive chocolate, coffee, Italian pasta and corn products (which are in everything it seems).
Michigan State has been looking at this issue and the news for Michigan isn’t all bad but it certainly isn’t all good. The NRDC claims that 29 states have done nothing to prepare for climate change. Michigan falls somewhere in the middle with the Michigan Climate Coalition (MCC), founded in November 2010 to engage Michigan stakeholders to address climate change impacts. MSU has several research projects under way including the Pileus Project, an effort to provide climate information to tourism and agricultural stakeholders. The Great Lakes tend to soften the blow of droughts but certainly do not eliminate all climate impact.
In short, regardless of its source, climate change is going to affect Michigan’s robust tradition of agriculture and make it more challenging than ever before.