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Shifts in the thermal niche of almond under climate change


Delineating geographic shifts in crop cultivation under future climate conditions provides information for land use and water management planning, and insights to meeting future demand. A suitability modeling approach was used to map the thermal niche of almond cultivation and phenological development across the Western United States (US) through the mid-21st century. The Central Valley of California remains thermally suitable for almond cultivation through the mid-21st century, and opportunities for expansion appear in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon, which is currently limited by insufficient heat accumulation. Modeled almond phenology shows a compression in reproductive development under future climate. By the mid-21st century, almond phenology in the Central Valley showed ~ 2-week delay in chill accumulation and ~ 1- and ~ 2.5-week advance in the timing of bloom and harvest, respectively. Although other climatic and non-climatic restrictions to almond cultivation may exist, these results highlight opportunities for shifts in the geography of high-value cropping systems, which may influence growers’ long-term land use decisions, and shape regional water and agricultural industry discussions regarding climate change adaptation options.

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