If you love food like grapes, strawberries, and citrus, you owe your praise to the state of California. California is responsible for growing nearly all of America’s fruit, including staples like kiwis, nectarines, lemons, peaches, and plums. 86% of lemons and 84% of peaches come from California alone. Much of this is because of the state’s long growing seasons, rich soil, and large areas designated for agriculture. For the past 50 years, California has dominated the fruit-growing industry, but that could change.
Because California is so large, the state has many climate variations. While this has been beneficial for growing a wide variety of fruit crops, climate change has had a negative impact. Even small temperature changes can have a giant effect on sensitive crops, especially ones that require several years to mature. The amount of carbon dioxide also affects crops, and just this year, extreme drought has greatly reduced the state’s production of fruit like oranges.
So, what happens when suffering fruit crops becomes the norm? Higher prices is the most obvious result, and most people have noticed this already. When compared to decades past, you get much less fruit for the price you pay, and features like fruit color, size, and so on have changed. With less fresh fruit and veggies, society would start depending more on grain crops. Wheat actually does better when C02 levels are higher, so California would resort back to its earlier days in the 19th century when its main crops were corn and wheat. This would have an effect on public health.
Though these trends are scary, California is also not unprepared. While the media and politicians haggle about the details of climate change, California is adapting. Scientists and farmers alike are experimenting with crop rotations, genetically-modified seeds, and even chemical sprays that trick trees into believing the air is a certain temperature. With new technologies and access to information about farming techniques, it is possible for California to reign supreme as the nation’s leader in our favorite fruits.