Specialty crops – fruit, vegetables, and nuts – are the mainstay of California agriculture. California is by far the number one US producer of specialty crops both in quantity and in diversity, with a total of over 400 different crops recorded. Many of California’s specialty crops (such as almonds, artichokes, and broccoli) are grown almost nowhere else in the country.
Specialty crops face a variety of climate-related challenges. Perennials such as grapevines and nut trees represent a major investment and – unlike annual field crops – cannot be abandoned or fallowed in the event of a severe drought, storm, or heat wave. Warmer temperatures may prevent stonefruit (such as peaches and cherries) from experiencing the chill-hours needed for proper flowering. But California’s wide variety of crops and microclimates suggests a multitude of adaptation options. Please check this space again soon for new information on this topic.
A comprehensive overview of specialty crops and climate change can be found in the 2013 report “Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops - Impacts and Strategies for Resilience”.