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For agriculture, a changing climate brings challenges—but also opportunities

Ezra David Romero
Valley Public Radio
Research by Tapan Pathak and others shows that tomatoes, like the seedling above, are reaching maturity and becoming ready to harvest earlier and earlier as temperatures rise due to climate change.

In many ways, climate change has already hit home here in the San Joaquin Valley—especially for the agricultural industry, which produces as much as a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts and brings in billions of dollars each year to the local economy.

Already, climate change is bringing higher temperatures, more variable precipitation and more extreme weather events like drought. But even though these changes herald significant problems for ag, they also present opportunities to adapt. For example, some crops can be switched out for more drought-tolerant varieties, and for others, the practice of deficit irrigation can deliver less water with few adverse impacts.


In this interview, KVPR’s Kerry Klein spoke about those challenges and opportunities with Tapan Pathak, a professor and climate adaptation specialist with UC Merced and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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