Growing Season Extension Causes Dramatic Imbalances
Since 1895, the Environmental Protection Agency has been monitoring the growing season in the adjoining 48 states in America. In the last 30 years alone, the growing season has increased steadily and dramatically, with climate change indicated as the root cause.
The West has seen a more rapid increase than the East, not surprising given their extreme drought conditions of late, to an average rate of about 2.2 days per decade since the year 1895 (the East has seen an increase of one day per decade).
Overall, since the beginning of the 20th century, the average length of the growing season in the United States has increased by two weeks.
“The growing season is getting longer simply because the Earth is warming,” says meteorologist and climatologist Spencer Mell of the National Weather Service. “However, we see the most drastic warming during overnight lows in the cold season. The low temperatures aren’t getting as cold, so the first frost date of the growing season is coming later, and the last freeze is coming earlier.”
Some benefits of an extended growing season include harvesting crops longer for a greater return and allowing homeowners to plant more diversified gardens not previously recommended in their growing zones.
However, the benefits are outweighed by the drawbacks, most notably a disruption in biological processes, eventually leading to an imbalance in nature.
Plant growth, animal mating, and precipitation will all fall out of balance as the growing season extends. Additionally, invasive pests and other diseases will persist throughout the year instead of simply dying out over the winter.
Longer growing seasons and warmer temperatures will also lead to more widespread droughts as the shifting demand for limited water resources is pushed to their limits.
As homeowners become more aware of climate change and how it’s impacting the growing season, they will seek out plants that are bred to handle these environmental shifts. Growers will need to adjust the varieties they’re cultivating and how they will be able to withstand the evolution of climate change now and well into the future.
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