Warming winters in California mean that the state may no longer produce its fruit and nut crops in the 22nd century. A new study reveals that the state famous for its fields of delicious fruit could soon be barren.

The study, published today in PLoS One, is the result of work on climate modeling based on likely climate change in California's Central Valley. Researchers project that the region will lose more than half its winter chill by the year 2100. From the study:

Winter chill determines the ability of many deciduous trees from temperate climates to break their dormancy in the spring. Each species or cultivar has a specific chilling requirement, which if not met results in erratic growth patterns and economically unsuccessful fruit or nut production.

The authors used modeled temperature records for two past and 18 future climate scenarios and calculated the amount of safe winter chill that will be exceeded in 90 percent of all years for each scenario. Their findings indicate that imminent climatic change is likely to make most of California's Central Valley, which annually produces 1.2 million hectares of tree crops with chilling requirements and produces valued at about 9 billion dollars, unsuitable for many crops such as walnuts, cherries, prunes and peaches. Pistachios and almonds might also be affected.

What this means is that one of California's greatest sources of income will be strongly affected. Plus, many other regions will suffer since so many communities depend on California exports for fruits and nuts throughout the year.

Professor Minghua Zhang, whor worked on the study, said:

Depending on the pace of winter chill decline, the consequences for California's fruit and nut industries could be devastating.

Get ready for the post-farm California apocalypse. Without fruit exports, the main export from Central California could become some futuristic crystal meth. Of course if we're lucky, scientists will come up with GMO fruits and nuts that can bloom even with warmer winters.

via PLoS One

Image by Bill Sharp.