Forecasting Change: Climate change impacting US crops

Hotter, drier summers increasing damage to crop production

Two combines harvest wheat, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, near Pullman, Wash. Across eastern Washington, a drought the National Weather Service classified as "exceptional" has devastated what is normally the fourth largest wheat crop in the nation. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Part of the climate we are living in now is an increase in hot summers, and longer droughts. These hotter and drier summers are doing damage to the production of food. Below is a graphic to explain the cycle of plants wilting in the hotter growing seasons.

Heat and drought

Just how much of an effect has the change in our summers made? This graphic shows the projected decline in soybean production. Some of the biggest producers of soybeans are Oklahoma, Kansas and the Missouri and Mississippi River Valley Regions. This would mean a drop of about 9% for soybeans by the year 2050.

Decline in soybeans

The same is true for the impacts on our ability to grow corn. The decline for corn production is projected to drop by 7% after 2050.

Decline in corn

These declines would come as we get hotter, drier and have more people to feed than ever before.

There will be ways to prevent this from happening. We have discussed carbon capture, but this will require changes in farming. Some of those changes will be no-till farming designed to slow soil erosion. There is also regenerative agriculture. That means planting crops that grow deep roots and don’t have to be replanted every year. We also may have to look at planting corn and soybeans at different times of the year than we are used to in order to take advantage of a changing growing season.

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.