Watch out, pistachio and almond lovers — climate change is coming for your nuts. Literally almost all of both in America (99 percent for pistachios, 100 percent for almonds) are grown in California because of the state’s near-perfect weather for the trees. Now, though, warming temperatures are starting to “dramatically reduce the yield” for them in particular, NPR says.
Trees with pistachios, almonds, and even stone fruits require what are known as “chill hours.” Basically, they gotta kick up their feet in the winter so they’re ready for next year, and to do that, the temperature needs to get cold — between freezing and 45 degrees. This helps set the buds that later blossom into nuts and fruit in the summertime. Cumulatively, trees need hundreds of chill hours every winter, but for the past four years, they’ve been coming up short by almost 50 percent in certain places.
Farmers rightly fear this problem is going to keep getting worse. NPR says studies warn that within 30 years, even, it could be too warm to grow tree crops at all in parts of California where they currently thrive. One researcher at UC Davis says that by 2050, agriculture in the state “will continue,” but will almost certainly have had to “move a little bit north.” Less-optimistic scientists predict farms “will no longer support some of the main tree crops” by the end or even middle of the century. At least these hotter conditions should be excellent for tomatoes, so there will likely be tons of salsa to snack on instead.