Summer nights are heating up — and that’s impacting crops and livestock — Northern Public Radio #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Graphic credit: Colorado Climate Center

Click the link to read the article on the Nothern Public Radio website (Eva Tesfaye). Here’s an excerpt:

Climate experts say summer nights have gotten warmer. One study found the average minimum temperature in the United States has gotten warmer by 2.5 degrees over the last 50 years. For farmers, this means crops and livestock could suffer. This summer, warm nights hurt Kansas farmers and ranchers. Thousands of cattle were killed in June and the corn crop is doing poorly…

Since 1970, the average minimum temperature across the United States has gotten warmer by 2.5 degrees, according to a study by Climate Central. Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub, said that in the Midwest low temperatures have changed more than high temperatures over the past century…This is largely driven by moisture in the atmosphere. Cloud cover is causing more and faster warming at night than during the day. In the Midwest, much of this moisture comes from the Gulf of Mexico and from “corn sweat” — evapo-transpiration of corn takes moisture out of the soil and puts it into the atmosphere…

Dairy farmers are also using soaker systems to provide added cooling effects. Research on dairy cooling has shown that shade in combination with intermittent showering and forced air movement is a very effective method of cooling dairy cows, thereby reducing the production losses experienced during hot, humid weather conditions. Recent research at Kansas State University has shown that the application of water with low-pressure sprinklers cools cows more efficiently than fans alone. Photo credit: Avity Science

For dairy ranchers, heat abatement includes using sprinklers and fans to cool down the cows. Warm nights can change the schedule for that…

Map credit: The HIgh Plains Regional Climate Center

High overnight temperatures can also negatively impact crops such as corn, wheat, rice, and barley. Warmer overnight temps increase the crops’ respiration, leading to increased water use. Crops may also use carbon that’s usually used to develop grain cells, which can mean a lower yield. For corn, it’s particularly dangerous when warm nights occur during the pollination stage, said Mark Licht, an extension cropping specialist with Iowa State University. Cooling off at night during this stage helps produce higher yields, so the timing of those high overnight temperatures makes a difference…Chip Redmond said warmer temperatures hitting Kansas in July was especially bad timing. The conditions were dry and cloud cover led to warm nights during the silking stage.

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