Thursday, July 22, 2010

‘Wacky’ weather could squeeze Florida’s citrus season

Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala in the University of Central Florida News: Citrus growers, beware. Florida winters are getting more extreme, causing plants to flower later and potentially shrinking the growing seasons for some of the state’s most vital crops. If a recent trend continues, more frequent freezes and larger temperature swings between winter and spring, followed by hotter summers, could threaten oranges and other crops, according to a team of University of Central Florida researchers.

“The weather in Florida has been getting wacky,” said Betsy Von Holle, the assistant professor of Biology who led the study. “And that’s definitely having an impact beyond simple temperature changes. If the trend continues, it may affect everything from when we start seeing flowers and birds migrating to what foods we can grow.”

Von Holle suggests that subtropical crops such as oranges that depend on mild winters and springs could get squeezed out of Florida. The team’s findings are published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed journal from the Public Library of Science.

The researchers’ work highlights the complexity of a changing climate in a warming world and the need for more research on seasonal and regional changes in climate, especially in subtropical areas that have received less scientific attention because they’re not warming as quick…

Florida navel oranges, shot by Benjamin D. Esham (bdesham) for Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States license

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