Summer on the Central Coast may be warmer than usual and local farmers are feeling the heat.
There is cause for alarm among farmers and ranchers on the Central Coast as the Climate Prediction Center predicts a 33.6 percent chance that the median temperature will be eclipsed and an 8.2 percent chance that heat will be in the highest 10 percent of temperature ranges.
The center, which is part of the National Weather Service, predicts a 79.4 percent chance that the Central Coast’s median temperature of 66.19 F will be met or exceeded this summer.
Local farmers have already felt the effects of the extreme heat early in the summer season.
The Cal Poly Organic Farm is located on 11 acres of land on campus. They export numerous crops to the community.
We probably lost about 10 percent of our tomatoes and cucumbers,” said Cal Poly Organic Farm Manager Cindy Douglas of the late June weekend that broke local temperature records.
Douglas said the farm has learned from its mistake and will likely plant different crops next June.
“We have to think about which crops are hardier,” Douglas said. “We probably can’t grow a lot of the cooler season crops like we used to. You really have to change what you grow or accept defeat.”
Having already declared a state drought in June, California’s agriculture can ill afford a summer of extreme heat.
A recent USDA report says that around 97 percent of the states rangelands rate as in poor condition or worse.
With many lands unable to sustain cattle, ranchers have had to buy more expensive feed, which has forced many owners to sell cattle or entire herds.
Douglas said that the rapidity of the oncoming heat has given more than just the local farmers and ranchers fits. The local plant life has also struggled to cope with the extreme changes in weather.
“It’s happened so rapidly. Plants that have been here for 50 or 100 years aren’t making it either.”