Implications of climate change for horticulture in the Mallee

Higher summer temperatures and greater frequency of extreme temperature events are major climate change related threats in the Mallee.   A project, funded by DELWP, Agriculture Victoria and the Mallee CMA, was developed to model yield impacts on irrigated horticulture crops (citrus, grapes and almonds) under current and future (2030, 2050 and 2070) climate scenarios and review  information on existing crop types, potential adaptive strategies and alternatives. Modelling was conducted in partnership with Agriculture Victoria and local industries. A participatory approach was used to estimate critical climate thresholds (heat, frost and pollination) at different crop growth stages. The model developed assumed that plant phenological development was based on daily accumulated heat units. In the absence of adaptation measures (breeding, selection and crop management), and under conditions of full irrigation, yield declines in the order of 5-10% at 2030, 10-20% at 2050 and 20-35% at 2070 were predicted, mostly due to heat stress impacts. By 2070 the growing season was also predicted to have become shorter by approximately 40 days. Based on the wide global geographic range of current crops, focus on varietal improvements and adaptation strategies are recommended rather than investing in new crop types. This new and innovative work is considered as a first step as part of a longer term systematic approach to a horticultural crop modelling program and industry adaptation.  For further information please contact Anna Roberts.


Posted 14 July 2020 in News