British Columbia

With rising temperatures, can pistachios grow in the Okanagan?

As temperatures continue to soar each summer in the Okanagan, researchers at the Summerland Research and Development Centre of Agriculture Canada are considering which new crops may be able to grow in the region. 

Agriculture Canada thinks it may be possible in a few decades

Researchers are looking at warmer, drier climates to get ideas about what kind of crops could grow in the Okanagan as temperatures continue to frequently hit the high 30s each summer. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

As temperatures continue to soar each summer in the Okanagan, researchers say new crops may be able to grow in the region in the future.

On their radar are crops like pistachios and almonds, which traditionally have been grown further south or in Mediterranean climates. 

However, it will be a few decades before temperatures may be consistently high enough for this to become a possibility, said Kirsten Hannam, a systems agro-ecologist at the Summerland Research and Development Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

"At this point it's just a theoretical idea," Hannam said.

However, as the climate changes, the centre is already seeing shifts in where crops can grow. 

"We're noticing that sweet cherries, for example can be grown higher north and farther up the valley sides than we were able to previously," said Hannam. 

Agricultural changes

The effects that changing climate has had on crops has caught the attention of Richard Cannings, NDP MP for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay. 

"It's changing ... what we can grow in terms of agriculture," Cannings told Daybreak South host Chris Walker last week. 

"It's allowing new varietals of grapes to be planted," he said, noting Agriculture Canada is talking about bringing in pistachios in the future to grow in the Okanagan.

Higher temperatures

Hannam said the research centre has seen consistently higher temperatures in the southern Interior. 

"We've noticed over the last several decades that the number of days warmer than 35 degrees Celsius are becoming increasingly frequent and the number of days less than 10 degrees Celsius in the winter are becoming increasingly less frequent," said Hannam. 

"So, if we look at pistachios...their ideal temperature is about 38 degrees Celsius during the growing season, which makes them kind of a crop that we might consider growing in a few decades from now."

As temperatures continue to soar each summer in the Okanagan, researchers at the Summerland Research and Development Centre of Agriculture Canada are considering which new crops may be able to grow in the region.  6:46

With files from Daybreak South

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