We’re hearing this stuff over and over again: 2023 was the warmest year on record. The 10 warmest years have occurred in the past decade. Average global temperatures have risen by 2.43 degrees Fahrenheit since the preindustrial era. And so on. 

Call it global warming, climate change or something else, but scientists say greenhouse gas emissions accumulating in the atmosphere are the root cause of both a general warming trend and the severe weather events that have been increasing in frequency and intensity. 

Growing fruit has always been subject to climate conditions, of course, but more and more of the stories we report here at Good Fruit Grower include extreme weather events and their effects on crops. You, our readers, have been telling us all about the droughts, wildfires, dangerous heat, sudden warmings followed by frosts and freezes, floods, strong winds, hail and shifting pest and disease patterns — and the ways they affect your orchards, vineyards and farm fields. 

Matt Milkovich
Matt Milkovich

We know you’re feeling pressure from other forces, too. Government agencies, the retailers that buy your products, consumers, young people just entering the workforce — they have concerns about climate change and sustainability, and they’re looking to you to do something about it. 

So, wherever you stand on the politics of climate change, at this point there’s really no escaping it. You know you’ve got to adapt. The health of your trees, vines and bushes demands it. So does your bottom line. Extreme weather touches every aspect of fruit production, from plant health to worker safety to crop yield and quality. It’s the “elephant in the room,” as I’ve been told, and it’s time to stare it straight in the face. 

But enough with the doom and gloom! 

The good news is there are a lot of smart people grappling with the challenges of farming in a shifting climate. We frequently talk with dedicated scientists who are studying a multitude of ways to protect plants against weather extremes, and we talk with practical growers making their own adjustments. 

As an example, Michigan State University recently announced the Agricultural Climate Resiliency Program, a partnership among the university, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and state agriculture groups. According to a news release, the new program is “aimed at helping Michigan plant agriculture mitigate and adapt to climate change, while promoting environmental sustainability and the protection and efficient use of the state’s water resources.” It will provide grant money for research projects and fund the creation of six new faculty positions and two new extension educators at MSU. 

Good Fruit Grower is working on it, too. We’ve decided to be more intentional about our coverage of extreme weather. From now on, when we publish a story that touches on extreme weather or ways to mitigate its effects, we will flag it with a new “Climate Resilience” logo and make resilience research stories easier to find on our website.

And as always, if you’ve got a story to tell about climate change or anything else related to fruit production, please reach out to us. 

by Matt Milkovich