In the middle of this year, in the middle of the American summer, Oregon House Rep. Jeff Helfrich, R-Hood River, asked Governor Tina Kotek to declare a state of disaster for local cherry producers. The reason? The weather conditions were severely affecting the cherry industry, one of the most valued in the agricultural world internationally.
According to the published document, the ice storms, excessive heat and the impact on the environment due to the fires seriously affected the work of the growers, to which was added the wet and cold spring experienced in California, where the harvest suffered delays, getting too close to the Oregon’s harvest and meaning a significant drop in fruit prices.
According to data provided by the U.S Department of Agriculture, Oregon’s sweet cherry commerce can generate up to $80 million in revenue every year with an industry worth of $5 billion a year, so it’s no surprise the preoccupation that has arise in the last seasons, that have been increasing affected by the consequences of the climate change.
On the other side of the spectrum, in the state of California, the spring was abnormally cold and wet, resulting in the delay of the harvest season by at least three weeks (normally it runs from May to June) and approaching the harvest season from Oregon (normally runs from June to August). For the latter, the scenario is unbalanced, since they cannot compete with California, as Mike Doke, executive director of the Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers Association, commented to the Capital Chronicle. California, on the other hand, although it suffered from delayed harvests, doubled its production volume.
All of these factors ended up generating a hostile and very unbeneficial scenario for Oregon producers, whose expenses end up being greater than production profits. The “solution”? Up to 50% of the fruit may remain unharvested.
The truth is that producers from various states in the United States have been incredibly affected by the unpredictable changes in climate, the extreme heat that means burning or “baking” the cherries, and the excessive cold that prevents the bees from their work of pollinating.
But how can we solve something that seems to have no turning back? Throughout the country, media have reported that producers are simply saying goodbye to the cherry business because its profitability no longer exists. The idea behind the request to authorities is, of course, financial aid, but also to focus on the need for new mechanisms that address current conditions.
Technology, for example, has optimized irrigation in many places around the world, even detecting the needs of plantations. Different entities, on the other hand, are working on identifying new fruits that, genetically adapted, can better resist the new climate reality.
More or less solutions, the truth is that it seems to be too late to reverse global warming, now we just have to know how to confront it.