Fruit Supply at Risk




As several factors, including climate change and the decline of the bee population, increase, it is becoming apparent that the world’s supply of fruit may be at risk of reaching a vast shortage. Scientists say that the relationship between the animals that pollinate plants and the plants themselves may be affected by the changes in climate.

The temperature of growing environments is a major factor in this issue. In temperate regions in particular, a period of low temperature during the spring is essential for trees to grow before they reach fruit-producing capacity. Trees that grow in warmer areas, like peaches and cherries, are more likely to be affected by these changes in climate.

As global warming and climate change have been on the rise, the yields of fruit have become significantly smaller as well. In a part of California known as the Central Valley, the fog that is characteristic of the area has been diminishing as temperatures have risen. This fog allows the trees that are grown there, like peaches and apricots, to remain dormant for the necessary amount of time to produce flowers and fruit. With rising temperatures, and without the fog that trees need to properly grow, the size of harvests produced in California and other states are beginning to reach a dangerous low.

Fruits are a result of a the development of a plant’s ovaries, which are produced as the ovaries mature. This is intended as a means of protecting the seeds within the fruit for enough time that they can grow to produce another plant. This is the part of the plant that humans eat, but it is not produced until the seeds of the plant have been fertilized. The aid of pollinating species is necessary in order for fruits to grow, and without it, the supply would be at risk.

Species that pollinate flowers and other plants, known as pollinators, evolved to work with plants co-dependently. Both rely on each other to provide food and reproductive needs, and neither can survive well without the other. Bees, for example, get the nectar that they use as food from flowers, and spread the plants’ pollen to other plants as they go. Without bees or similar pollinating species, plants would not have a way to reproduce, and they would eventually die out.

This raises a point of concern regarding temperatures. As climate change causes winter temperatures to decrease in some areas, the population of beehives is lowered with it. For bee eggs to mature and survive, they must be kept at temperatures of at least 93 degrees for three consecutive weeks. Even if there is only one night that has temperatures so low that the colony cannot keep its eggs at this temperature, the eggs will die out. As temperatures are becoming more sporadic in response to climate change, there is a chance that there will be harmful effects on the population of pollinating species.

As climate change continues to have an increasing effect on the global environment, the worldwide supply of fruit may be at risk. A reduction in the number of pollinators, in addition to unstable temperatures, both contribute to a lower yield of crops.

By Joseph Chisarick

SF Gate
University of Washington
NASA Earth Observatory
East Stroudsburg University
The Independent