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Research Project: Addressing Water Management for Woody Perennial Crops under Increasing Temperatures in Mid-Century and End-of-Century Climate Conditions

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research

Project Number: 2032-12610-001-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 29, 2017
End Date: Oct 1, 2021

Improve our understanding of how anticipated mid- and late-century increased temperatures interface with water demand thresholds of high value woody perennial crops (e.g. grapes, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, stone fruit, etc.) in California and select regions of the Southwestern U.S. Previous work has revealed that periods of ideal temperatures for many crops will shift, yet there is little understanding of how these conditions will affect crop productivity and yields." Furthermore, modeled temperature projections by mid-century and end-of-century in California and the Southwest region indicate increasing mean temperatures during typical growth seasons (i.e. summer) and an increasing frequency in the number of days above 35oC, at which plants can incur reductions in growth and yield. Irrigation is a primary adaptation measure to cope with these increasing temperatures, yet we lack understanding of the requisite increases in water application to support increases in crop evapotranspiration to maintain canopy cooling and crop productivity.

We propose to examine the interactions of plant physiology, water demand and stress tolerance under these aforementioned conditions through a combined approach including metadata analysis of existing work in the scientific literature, climate and physiological models, and experimentation (if needed for model parameterization) to build a comprehensive understanding of the vulnerability of select woody perennial crops to climate change. This approach may include detailed investigation ranging from whole plant physiology to orchard or vineyard systems responses to temperature stress and water availability as an adaptation response. We also intend to assemble a focus group comprised of select state and local government agency personnel and scientific experts including key USDA Climate Hub steering committee members to understanding needs, gain feedback and guidance at project initiation and throughout the duration of the project. The outcomes of this work have basic scientific merit and also implications to inform crop type x location investments related to the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and help regional irrigation districts design management/water delivery plans.