Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bitter Harvest

Just in time for Thanksgiving.

From Marketplace:
Michael Hogan, CEO of A.D. Makepeace, a large cranberry grower based in Wareham, says for now cranberries are still a viable crop in Massachusetts. But climate change is making it much tougher to grow there.

"We're having warmer springs, we're having higher incidences of pests and fungus and we're having warmer falls when we need to have cooler nights," Hogan says.

Those changing conditions are costing growers like Makepeace money. The company has to use more water to irrigate in the hotter summers, and to cover the berries in spring and fall to protect them from frosts.

They're also spending more on fuel to run irrigation pumps, and have invested heavily in technology to monitor the bogs more closely. It's also meant more fungicides and fruit rot.

"Because of the percentage of rot that was delivered to Ocean Spray, they paid us $2 a barrel less," Hogan says. "We delivered 370,000 barrels last year. So you're talking about millions of dollars."

Cranberries also need a certain number of "chilling hours" to ensure that deep red color. Glen Reid, assistant manager of cranberry operations for A.D. Makepeace, says that's a problem as well.

"The berries actually need cold nights to color up," Reid says. "Last year we had a big problem with coloring up the berries. We had a lot more white berries."

Some growers in the Northeast have already moved some cranberry production to chillier climates, like eastern Canada. Ocean Spray has started growing cranberries on a new farm in the province of New Brunswick.

Makepeace's Hogan is even considering Chile, which apparently has a favorable climate for growing the North American berry.
I know we've been over this before, but it gets harder and harder to see how a cost/benefit analysis of climate change don't support immediate implementation of a carbon tax.or something similar.

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