climate change

Local Farmers Are Getting Creative Amid Climate Change

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The length of time between the last frost in the spring and the first frost of the fall is getting longer and longer each year. While that does give farmers more time to harvest, the battle can outweigh the benefits.

"Longer growing season usually that sounds good, that sounds like a plus, that's what we're after,” said Rodger Phillips, of Sub Edge Farm.  “We like to extend our season if possible.”

But the plus side of a longer growing season comes with a large number of downsides -- like warmer winters.

"There's a big difference between 32 degrees with snow on the ground and a 34-degree winter where it's raining all winter,” Phillips said. “So your fields are going to be wet. It's going to make it harder to get out in the field in the spring, so things are going to be delayed, which is going to change things."

Warmer winters also mean insects have a better chance of surviving the typically colder months.  

"So we might be seeing new pests, new insect pests that we have not dealt with before,” Phillips said.  “I know on our farm, the deer population has increased and they say with global warming and climate change that's just going to continue."

As a result, Sub Edge Farm invested in permanent deer fencing just this past year anticipating conditions will only get worse.

The dry summer and our ongoing drought mean another battle for farmers.

"We've actually lost quite a few crops this year that we just had to turn under because we didn't have the kind of water that we need to have a healthy stand," Phillips said. "And then a lot of weeds like the dry, hot weather. Competing with them so it can be a mess. These dry seasons happen but they seem to be coming up like suddenly now which is tricky to deal with, so for us, we're trying to think about planning to always have infrastructure in place to take care of water, where it needs to be when we need it."

With a growing list of challenges ahead of farmers as our climate continues to change, Philips remains hopeful.

"I think farmers are generally pretty creative and always coming up with new ideas and new technologies so that side of farming always excites me."

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