Farming In Hotter Climates

We examine what a hotter, drier climate may mean for American agriculture and your food.

A field of corn in the sunshine. (Noble Gill/Flickr)

A field of corn in the sunshine. (Noble Gill/Flickr)

There’s been soggy weather over much of the country this past weekend, but step back and you’ll find that, for a big part of the West and more, the story has been too much hot and too much dry.

Forty percent of the nation’s farm income comes from seventeen Western states: cattle, sheep, salad greens, dry beans, melons, hops, barley, wheat, potatoes, citrus.

For all that and more, my guest Gary Paul Nabhan is looking at how to adapt for a hotter, drier climate, how to treat our soil and water, how to choose and raise our crops to make it through.

This hour On Point: Farming for living, eating, surviving in a changing climate.

— Tom Ashbrook


Gary Paul Nabhan, agricultural ecologist, ethnobotanist and writer. Research Social Scientist at the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona. Author “Growing Food in Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty” and “Desert Terroir: Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands.”

Eugene Takle, professor of atmospheric science and agricultural meteorology and director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State University.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from “Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land” by Gary Paul Nabhan. Copyright 2013 by Gary Paul Nabhan. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Chelsea Green Publishing.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Our Coming Food Crisis [OP-ED]: “The most vulnerable crops are those that were already in flower and fruit when temperatures surged, from apricots and barley to wheat and zucchini. Idaho farmers have documented how their potato yields have been knocked back because their heat-stressed plants are not developing their normal number of tubers. Across much of the region, temperatures on the surface of food and forage crops hit 105 degrees, at least 10 degrees higher than the threshold for most temperate-zone crops.”

The Guardian: Climate Change: How A Warming World Is A Threat To Our Food Supplies: “Global warming is exacerbating political instability as tensions brought on by food insecurity rise. With research suggesting the issue can only get worse we examine the risks around the world.”

TIME: Climate Change And Farming: How Not To Go Hungry In A Warmer World: “Warming isn’t the only threat to our ability to feed ourselves — it acts in concert with rising population, the growing demand for grain and water-intensive meat, and the civil dysfunction and conflict that often frustrates poor farmers in the developing world.”

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