The effect of predicted climate change on Cornwall’s crop production has been outlined in a risk assessment by Cornwall Council, which says it is the first local authority in the UK to do so.
The assessment, drawn up by Cornwall-based specialist climate consultancy Climate Change Risk Management, focuses on the implications of extreme climatic events on various sectors including farming and growing.
In its report, released in November, it says higher temperatures and a longer growing season are likely to increase yields of root crops and leafy vegetables. Agricultural drought may become more frequent and probably require more water storage. “Overall the effects on specific crops will vary and farmers are likely to have to adapt to change by introducing new genotypes, varieties and even novel crops, while adapting management practices,” it says.
Warmer winters, however, may cause lack of vernalisation, which could have implications for cauliflower programmes.
More frequent drought, heat stress and waterlogging are likely to increase pest and disease incidence. As temperatures rise, pest species previously absent or rare within the county are likely to become more common.
Fewer frosts and cold spells and a longer growing season may allow novel pest species to colonise, while potentially increasing the population size of existing insect pests. Such increases in pest and disease may lead to more intensive pesticide use, the report suggests.
The council said the report will help it consider how it needs to adapt and support communities in developing their adaptation plans.
Read more news and features from the commercial vegetable growing industry in our monthly publication The Vegetable Farmer.