Canada: Warmer, drier climate with plenty of variability

Since there is no immediate “fix” for the weather, Canadian potato farmers have to be ready for change and be adaptable, advises David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada. The climate is changing. Although it may not seem like it during specific weather events – exceptional rainstorms and severe cold snaps – evidence predicts climate over the coming years will be warmer and drier. That will mean changes. “The farms that will continue to have success will be those that are willing and able to change,” says Phillips. “While there will be benefits to a warmer climate, there will also be drawbacks or disadvantages. Farmers will need to be adaptable to these changes, and Canadian farmers have demonstrated they are very good at adapting.” Although Phillips made the remarks at the Alberta Potato Conference in November, he says his comments are applicable to agriculture in general. The warming trend of the coming decades will push the production boundaries of many of the warm season crops even further north. It will mean a longer frost-free growing season, higher levels of carbon dioxide. On the downside, a warming climate could encourage more weed growth. It can also increase or change the complex of crop diseases and insect pests. Warm temperatures can increase heat stress on crops and also lead to drier or drought conditions. More