Hort should plan for a fu­ture of ex­treme weather

The cur­rent heat­wave grip­ping the coun­try has seen tem­per­a­tures soar to record highs in many dis­tricts.

NZ Grower - - Wa­ter For Life - _______________________________ By Bar­bara Gill­ham

With the high tem­per­a­tures set to con­tinue, many grow­ers in some ar­eas are now un­der pres­sure to en­sure they don’t lose their crops, which is dif­fi­cult for those who may have lit­tle or no ir­ri­ga­tion.

Horowhenua grower Ge­off Lewis of Ten­der­tips As­para­gus says the weather over the past few months has been some of the worst and hottest he’s ex­pe­ri­enced.

“It’s been very, very hot here. We’ve been go­ing through a pe­riod of 25 to 30 de­gree days, which is most un­usual for the dis­trict which nor­mally has a cool cli­mate that never goes much above 22 de­grees, that his­tor­i­cally has made it so good for grow­ing veg­eta­bles.

“There are some re­gions that have done in­cred­i­bly well, they are re­gions of high el­e­va­tion and they tend to at­tract the thun­der­storm weather. So parts of the cen­tral North Is­land like Marton or Hun­ter­ville had a huge amount of rain and it’s come in mas­sive dol­lops. The point I am try­ing to make is there are re­gions that have had a sea­son of ex­tremes.

“We have gone through a pe­riod of eigh­teen months or so where the weather was ini­tially par­tic­u­larly wet to a GE­OFF LEWIS, TEN­DER­TIPS AS­PARA­GUS

“We've been go­ing through a pe­riod of 25 to 30 de­gree days, which is most un­usual for the dis­trict which nor­mally has a cool cli­mate that never goes much above 22 de­grees”

pe­riod which ap­pears to be in­flu­enced by the very high tem­per­a­tures. So we are get­ting a cli­matic pe­riod in New Zealand of ex­tremes, where some re­gions are get­ting mas­sive amounts of rain and some are get­ting very lit­tle.

“We’ve got a con­tin­u­a­tion of ex­treme con­di­tions through­out New Zealand where some crops are amaz­ingly suc­cess­ful, and some are re­ally strug­gling, and that de­pends on what their wa­ter needs are and their ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion.

“The big­gest ques­tion that we have to con­sider as a hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try is this. Is the cli­mate of the last two years an in­di­ca­tion of what is to come?

“What was said orig­i­nally was global warm­ing would pro­duce ex­tremes. Maybe this is a piece of work that the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try needs to do. To start to gather in­for­ma­tion on the ef­fect of cli­mate change on the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­tries in New Zealand and project where the most ap­pro­pri­ate ar­eas are for cer­tain crops. What im­pact a change of cli­mate would have on where and what we grow in the fu­ture.”

Ge­off says if the tem­per­a­tures they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at present con­tinue then Horowhenua would go from be­ing an area ideal for grow­ing veg­eta­bles, to be­ing more suit­able for grow­ing fruit.

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