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As Winter Warms, Farmers in Southern US Find Ways to Adapt
South Dakota Ag Connection - 06/08/2023

Climate change is driving warmer winters, and several cities in the U.S. South, including Tupelo, Atlanta and Houston, experienced one of their top five warmest meteorological winters this year

When Pam Knox walked into the peach orchard at the University of Georgia horticulture farm this spring, there was nothing on the trees except leaves and a couple of brown fruits — the result of one of the state's warmest winters ever followed by two nights of freezing weather in March.

“It’s just really odd, because over the course of one night, they lost their entire crop and their entire production here,” said Knox, an agricultural climatologist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, which shares research and expertise with farmers and others. Commercial peach farmers in the state lost as much as 95% of their yield, she estimated.

Georgia, with its iconic peaches, isn’t the only place in the south where farmers have had to deal with changing conditions. Houston, Tupelo and Atlanta all had one of their top five warmest winters on record this year, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. Farmers are contending with those warming winters by using new or improved agricultural techniques, trying out new crop varieties and even growing crops that were previously less common in their regions.

“Winter is the season in Georgia that is warming the most quickly,” Knox said, affirming a trend that includes most of the United States. “We don’t have any reason to think that that trend is going to change, so we will continue to expect more warmer winters.”

Cody Mills, an extension agent and Chickasaw County coordinator at Mississippi State University, said a warmer and wetter winter delayed some farmers from planting corn and some soybeans because they had to wait for drier weather. A couple weeks might not seem like a long time, he said, but that can set back cutting and harvesting later.









Source: usnews.com


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