First Alert Weather Alert: Flood Warning expires at 8:00 PM on 4/28, issued at 10:03 AM Bryceville, FL | Callahan, FL | Fernandina Beach, FL | Glen Saint Mary, FL

Beautiful Autumn Weather... "Earth Gauge":

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Updated: 10/25/2013 10:25 pm
A stellar weekend of autumn weather with highs 70 -75 after lows in the 40s inland, 50s close to the St. Johns River, intracoastal & beaches. There will be some high clouds at times but otherwise plenth of sun.

Temps. will begin to warm early in the week reaching 80 degrees by Wed. & into the 80s for Halloween & Fri. I don't see much in the way of rain before the end of the week.

Earth Gauge: Weather and the Pumpkin Harvest

About 80 percent of the United States’ pumpkin supply is available in October, but pumpkin makes an appearance year-round in pies, breads and other foods. Weather can have a big impact on the yearly pumpkin harvest.

  • Wet and soggy: Too much rain can delay planting and cause crops to rot. Mildews, which thrive in wet conditions, can damage leaves and stems or kill pumpkin vines and fruits.
  • Hot and dry: Dry, hot weather can cause pumpkins to produce too many male blossoms and too few female blossoms, resulting in a smaller harvest. Lack of water during droughts can also result in smaller and lighter-weight pumpkins.
  • Chilly: An early freeze can kill pumpkins. And, chilly weather in the spring can prevent pumpkin blossoms from germinating. Why? Because bees – which carry pollen from plant to plant – don’t fly until the temperature is at least 55 degrees. Without bees and pollination, there are no pumpkins.

In Illinois – the number one pumpkin producing state – harvest is good this year, thanks in part to a wet spring followed by dry late-summer weather. Mild temperatures in California, another top pumpkin-producing state, have helped crop development. On the other hand, pumpkin crops in places like Delaware and New Jersey are smaller this year due to wet conditions in June that delayed planting and heavy rains that led to fruit rot and disease in some fields. Cooler than normal summer temperatures also delayed crop maturation in these states.

Tip: If you are carving or cooking this year, put the whole pumpkin to use!  If you don’t eat the seeds yourself, spread them outside as a snack for birds and squirrels.  And, instead of weighing down your trash bags and sending past-their-prime pumpkins to the landfill, put them to use in your garden.  Pumpkins can be added to compost piles, where they will decompose and add nutrients to your compost.

(Sources: University of Illinois Extension. “Pumpkins and More: Pumpkin Facts.”; The National Center for Appropriate Technology. “Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Production.”; Illinois Farm Bureau. “Agbites for October 7,”; University of Delaware College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.  “2013 Pumpkin Crop.”)

Climate Fact: Climate and Weather Impact Agriculture

Agriculture, livestock and seafood generate at least 200 billion dollars in the United States economy each year. Although there have been improvements to increase crop yields and advances in agricultural technology, food production remains highly dependent on climate. Solar radiation, temperature and precipitation are the main factors influencing crop growth. The frequency and intensity of weather events significantly affect crop productivity and health:

  • High temperatures cause some crops to grow more quickly, but grains that grow faster don’t have the time to mature, reducing yields. High temperatures can also cause seedling death—for example, soil temperatures over 95 degrees Fahrenheit kill soybean seedlings.
  • Drought causes water stress in crops, diminishing healthy growth in plants and altering their ability to fight parasites and pests. Flowering, pollination and grain filling can also be affected by water stress. Droughts followed by heavy rains reduce the soil’s ability to absorb water, increasing the potential for flooding.
  • Flooding can cause water contamination, damage crops, increase susceptibility to disease, and kill seedlings in crops such as corn and soybean.
  • Heavy rains and excessive water cause crop yield declines due to waterlogging. Heavy rain can also hurt younger plants and cause soil erosion. High precipitation paired with high temperatures increases weed, fungi and pest infestation
  • Wildfires can spread quickly and devastate agricultural land, burning crops and affecting soil fertility.
  • High humidity, frost and hail affect yield and the quality of the quality of fruits and vegetables.
  • Hurricanes produce violent winds, heavy rains, large waves and flooding. The impacts on agriculture are similar to those from flooding: water contamination, damage to crops and infrastructure, among others.

Farmers are used to dealing with a certain amount of risk on a daily basis when it comes to variability in weather conditions; however, climate change increases that variability and introduces uncertainty into agricultural production. Climate change has increased the frequency and severity of some extreme events such as droughts, flooding and heat waves, challenging farmers and ranchers across the globe. The damages and challenges are seen both at a small scale (subsistence farmers) and a large scale (industrial producers). In the United States, some farmers are adopting mitigation strategies that include acquiring crop insurance, diversifying crops and field locations, investing in irrigation systems and diversifying household livelihood activities.

(Source: Rosenzweig, C., A. Iglesius, X.B. Yang, P.R. Epstein, E. Chivian. 2001. Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events—Implications for Food Production, Plant Diseases, and Pests. NASA Publications. Paper 24 and Crane, T.A., C. Roncoli, and G. Hoogenboom. 2011. Adaptation to Climate Change and Climate Variability: The Importance of Understanding Agriculture as Performance. NJAS -Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 57:179-185. and Mestre-Sanchís, F. and M.L. Feijoo-Bello. 2009. Climate Change and its Marginalizing Effect on Agriculture. Ecological Economics 68: 896-904. and M.R. O’Neal, M.A. Nearing, R.C. Vining, J. Southworth, and R.A. Pfeifer. 2005. Catena 61:165-184. and  United States Environmental Protection Agency. Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply. Accessed online 17 October 2013 and United States Environmental Protection Agency. Natural Events and Disasters. Accessed online 17 October 2013. )

Climate in the News: “Pacific Ocean Temperature Influences Tornado Activity in USScience Daily, October 17, 2013 – Meteorologists often use information about warm and cold fronts to determine whether a tornado will occur in a particular area. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that the temperature of the Pacific Ocean could help scientists predict the type and location of tornado activity in the U.S.

Have a great & safe weekend!

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