Climate Change and Island Agriculture
Agriculture is a major industry on Prince Edward Island. It’s also an industry that is highly dependent on the climate and local weather. Compared with pre-1980 climate conditions, PEI is now experiencing:
- more hot days,
- fewer cold days,
- a change in precipitation patterns, and
- an increase in the frost-free period.
Climate change will have a number of impacts. It is likely to mean a longer growing season (possibly extending from April into November), and a potentially higher yield for some crops. It may also allow for the production of different crops. There may be a shift away from crops that require cool growing conditions and regular rainfall (like potatoes) to ones that are better suited to drier, warmer temperatures (such as corn, soybeans, and winter cereals). Sweet cherry orchards and vineyards may become more common.
Weather patterns are also expected to become more variable over the coming decades. The frequency of ‘extreme events’ (frost in late spring or early fall, an extended dry period, or excessive rainfall during a harvest period) is also expected to increase.
Climate change will affect not only how much rain falls but, even more important, when it will fall. Field irrigation or water management and storage systems may become a necessity to support some crops during drier summer months. Winter kill may become a more serious problem for forage crops because of more field ice and less protective snow cover.
Warmer temperatures associated with climate change may also mean new crop pests or a greater impact from current pests. Pest problems may begin earlier in the growing season and producers may need to adopt different control strategies.
Expected changes in growing conditions as the result of climate change will not happen overnight. They will be gradual. This should allow farm operators time to plan for, and perhaps even benefit from, the expected impacts of climate change on PEI’s agricultural industry.
Who can I contact for more information?
Erin Taylor (Manager, Climate Change and Agriculture Outreach)
Jones Building, 4th Floor
11 Kent Street
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-6111
Fax: (902) 368-5830