Vulnerability and impact of climate change on pear production in South Africa

Wand S.J.E. ; Steyn W.J. ; Theron K.I. (2008)

Conference Paper

The Western Cape region of South Africa, with its Mediterranean-type climate and predominantly winter rainfall, has been identified as highly vulnerable to projected climate change within both global and national contexts. Rising temperatures are already detectable and are predicted to increase by a further 1-2°C within the next 30 years, together with decreasing rainfall, especially in winter. Agricultural production will experience a primary impact with resulting socio-economic implications. With plantings of 11,800 ha, pear production contributes 16% to total deciduous fruit production in the region. An analysis of possible impacts of regional projections of climate change on pear production was conducted. Pears are sensitive to the risks posed by extremes in rainfall and temperature and to gradual warming in an already warm production area. Impacts are expected to be felt in both yields and fruit quality, including reduced chilling units and disrupted reproductive processes, increasing incidence of sunburn, poor colour development in some blushed cultivars and higher risk of drought stress in years when water availability is insufficient. Adaptation options, which could include breeding, microclimate amelioration, water conservation methods and climate monitoring systems, were assessed. Opportunities for further research were identified.

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