Winter temperatures are on the rise and scientists note this change will actually increase a plant’s exposure to freezing temperatures
Scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada predict crops will be at a greater risk of winter damage in the future even though the climate will be warmer. Perennial forage crops are grown on more than 40% of the cultivated land in Eastern Canada and other regions of North America, where they constitute the backbone of the livestock industry. The study of the impact of this significant warming trend is published in the September-October issue of Agronomy Journal, published by the American Society of Agronomy.
The loss of snow cover due to warmer winter conditions will increase exposure of plants to freezing temperatures. The authors also conclude that the occurrence of above-freezing temperatures and loss of cold hardiness will increase with climate warming. Forage crops are also likely to enter the winter in a lower state of cold hardiness due to warmer fall temperatures. Winter temperatures are expected to increase by 2 to 6 degrees C over the next 50 years in Eastern Canada; however, survival of perennial crops over the winter months requires the right climatic conditions. Sub-freezing temperature, loss of cold hardiness due to warm periods, ice encasement, and soil heaving can result in frequent crop losses.
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