Written by  Ken Gaudion

Climate change and growing cherries

Representatives from selected industries were drawn together recently by the North East Catchment Management Authority in Victoria.
The purpose of the gathering was to participate in a funded project that would add to a common view regarding climate change adaptation, and to assist industries reach an informed position to help with future decision making.

The project, Embedding climate adaptation in Agriculture—industry briefing, involved representatives from the grazing, cropping, viticulture, horticulture, dairy and forestry industries.
Members of the Victorian Cherry Association were invited to attend.
The meeting was informed that in 2012, Cherry Growers Australia Inc. completed a project called, Understanding and managing the risks and opportunities from climate change on cherry production.
This project looked at data from 25 growing areas and what the likely scenarios might be if the temperature rose by 0.05C to 2C by the year 2050. (The report can be found on the Cherry Growers Australia Inc. website.)
A most important project
I believe that this has been the most important project funded by the cherry levy and Australia’s Farming Future—the Australian Government’s climate change initiative for primary industries (administered by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture).
Thanks to this project, wherever a cherry grower is located in Australia, they can associate with a nearby locality or similar climate, and use the data provided to assist with planning for future or current plantings, and manage the changes that might be required to fit in with an altered climate.
Weather events and profitability
Extreme weather events do affect the profitability of growing cherries.
That is why Professor Clark Seavert (known to many of us in Australia) from the Department of Applied Economics at Oregon State University, has been studying the effects of climate change on Northwest agriculture in the USA.
Over the years he developed a suite of online decision making tools to help growers assess their farm economics and finances, including the impact of climate change.
Local climate understanding is the driver that will help growers better understand the impacts and budget requirements of change that could be necessary, such as planting lower chill varieties, netting, rain covers and more.
Adapt to changing climate
Adaptation to the future climate scenario will affect the economic outcome ahead.
It is best that you plan how you need to change in order to deliver the best outcome.

See this article in Tree Fruit Feb 2019