Mexico’s biggest freeze since 1957 means US produce price will skyrocket

Freezing temperatures across a wide swath of Mexico the night of Feb. 3-4 have made a big impact in available fresh produce. Expect the effects to be felt in your supermarket any day now.

Mexico freeze threatens vegetable crops

From The Packer Feb 4th, 2011

By Andy Nelson

The freeze reached fields as far south as southern Sinaloa. Crops in the border state of Sonora could be devastated.

“The last time there was a freeze of this severity was 1957,” said Jerry Wagner, director of sales and marketing for Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer’s Best. “It’s still too early to tell, but there’s a lot of damage.”

All of the growing regions Farmer’s Best ships from suffered freezing temperatures, Wagner said. The company’s full line of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash, was likely affected.

One industry veteran told Jesse Driskill, operations manager of the Nogales office of Meyer LLC, that Mexico had not had a freeze like this in 60 years.

What made this one even worse, Driskill said, is that forecasts were 5 to 10 degrees higher than what temperatures wound up being. Many growers took precautions, he said, but they did not harvest early because they did not expect it to get so cold.

From the Digital Journal

Mexico loses 80-100% of crops to freeze, US prices to skyrocket

By Lynn Herrmann. Digital Journal

Houston – The cold weather experienced across much of the US in early February made its way deep into Mexico and early reports estimate 80-100 percent crop losses which are having an immediate impact on prices at US grocery stores with more volatility to come.

Wholesale food suppliers have already sent notices to supermarket retailers describing the produce losses in Mexico and the impact shoppers can expect. Sysco sent out a release(pdf) this week stating the early February freeze reached as far south as Los Mochis and south of Culiacan, both located in the state of Sinaloa, along the Gulf of California. The freezing temperatures were the worst the region has seen since 1957. According to Sysco’s notice sent out this week:

“The early reports are still coming in but most are showing losses of crops in the range of 80 to 100%. Even shade house product was hit by the extremely cold temps. It will take 7-10 days to have a clearer picture frome growers and field supervisors, but these growing regions haven’t had cold like this in over half a century.”

At this time of year, Mexico is a major supplier to the US and Canada for green beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, asparagus, peppers and round and Roma tomatoes. Compounding the problem is the freezing cold that hit Florida in December and January. Sysco continued with its dire report:

“Florida normally is a major supplier for these items as well but they have already been struck with severe freeze damage in December and January and up until now have had to purchase product out of Mexico to fill their commitments, that is no longer an option.”

Validating that statement, The Packer released a statement at the end of December stating:

“Freeze damage to Florida crops could increase demand for Mexican vegetables for the rest of winter, grower-shippers say.”

That December report noted Florida’s cold temperatures and crop loss but was optimistic over Mexico’s produce, even if prices were climbing. “My gut feeling tells me the Mexican deal is going to be very active,” said Ken Maples, sales manager for Plantation Produce in Mission, Texas, according to The Packer.

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98 thoughts on “Mexico’s biggest freeze since 1957 means US produce price will skyrocket

  1. Many of us have been trying to get people to start home gardens for their own food security, even a small styrofoam box indoors near a window in winter, will give you some food, and its going to be fresh, no chem if youre smart, and as close to free as the cost of the seeds.
    GM free as an extra bonus.
    the good thing about disasters like this is it may wake people up to the need for local foods, and to get used to eating less food, but better quality.

  2. That’s hit the corn crop, too, 16% loss according to BBC. Corn in Mexico is like bread in the U.S. Gonna’ hurt.

    Meanwhile we’re subsidizing corn for gasohol.

  3. And the UKMO still expect a warming trend. I am waiting for the US cold to extend across the Atlantic. It does seem to be missing the UK at the moment but hitting Norway. I know, from my daughter who lives there, that Spain is cooler than normal.
    Food prices will rise everywhere since the US will import from areas which normally supply Europe and you have more money. When will the powers at be realist the extent that bio-ethanol production has on food prices. The most stupid idea since the taxing of CO2.

  4. Prime illustration that it is COLD weather that destroys food production, not warm. The warming that we have had for so long, coupled with agricultural and transportation advances as well as increasing CO2 level have put a bounty of food and food choices on the first worlds tables for years. Cold destroys. Fresh foods will become scarce and expensive in the short run, and depending on continuing weather trends, may continue for the long run.
    What will really hurt is a prolonged winter season that affects the summer grain growing season in the north. With just in time inventory control and the diversion of so much of the edible food stocks to fuel production, severe shortages could be a real future.

  5. Jan 3, 2011
    Florida produce prices up sharply after early freezes
    Full story: Palm Beach Post
    Prices for sweet corn, green beans, squash and other vegetables have shot up since December’s historic freezes that battered South Florida farms

  6. “Cold snap hits Mexico maize crop” “A spell of unusually cold weather in northern Mexico has severely damaged the maize crop in the state of Sinaloa.” “Officials estimate the losses could amount to four million tonnes of corn – 16% of Mexico’s annual harvest.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12437862

    I’m surprised that the BBC didn’t highlight this event as another unmistakable sign of runaway global warming…

  7. I’ve never thought for a second that the AGW hoax would collapse because scientists, politicians, and other vested interests would suddenly become honest and/or rational. A tiger can’t change its stripes. What I’ve hoped for the last ten years is that mother nature would slap down some cold weather to remind people that global warming is something to welcome and if anthropogenic activities are warding off potential global cooling then all the better. For years I’ve been saying that if anthropogenic CO2 isn’t causing global warming there’ll come a day when we will all wish it had been true. The global food supply is not exactly cheap and plentiful but it’s adequate thanks in great part to global warming and an increasingly fertile atmosphere over the past several decades. Any significant drop in food production that persists more than a year or two, which will happen in a cooling climate, is going to be the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Black Death swept through Europe in the 14th century killing 1 of every 3 people.

  8. It’s just weather, nothing to worry about…

    Amazing, last frost this bad was over 50 years ago, before the “unprecedented” increase in CO2.

  9. I am so pleased to see this incredibly important news on WUWT. I come from a long line of farmers and most nuclear families in my extended family know how to produce a bounty of vegetables on a half acre of land. Yes, we go to the trouble of actually owning a half acre of land. Of course, the sad news is that vegetable prices really are going to skyrocket and all of us, even here in Florida, are going to suffer nutritionally. You might need to start a home gardener’s page.

    I am interested in hearing from Gore, Hansen, Schmidt, and all the usual suspects about this Mexican freeze. Caused by global warming, no doubt. The same thing that has caused three years running of freezes and bizarrely cool and uncomfortable weather in central Florida. The crops here froze in December or January, as reported in the article. We are upon the zenith of the azalea season in central Florida and I bet only the real old timers can remember that event occurring in cold weather.

  10. Initial estimates said up to 80 percent of the crops in Mexico were damaged or destroyed by the freeze. Days later, observation experts scaled back those numbers, although that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t expected to be huge.
    The cold weather affected new growth that is going to be coming in March. So in March, you are probably going to see higher prices at the supermarket and less supply at the supermarket, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be produce available. There’s going to be plenty of vegetables to come,” Jungmeyer said.
    The good news is, since the freeze, growers have reported seeing positive signs in their crops.
    “Each day that’s passed since then, we’re finding that there’s less and less damage. It’s not to say there isn’t any damage but we’re finding that the plants will recuperate and we will see harvests,” Jungmeyer said.

    http://www.kgun9.com/Global/story.asp?S=14013532

  11. ozspeaksup says:
    February 12, 2011 at 6:22 am
    “Many of us have been trying to get people to start home gardens for their own food security, even a small styrofoam box indoors near a window in winter, will give you some food…”
    ——————————————
    No, it won’t!
    It will give you a sprig of parsley for your styrofoam pasta.
    Agriculture produces food.

  12. Photoshop that image a little bit and you’d get a good Google look-alike.

    Fear the enviro’s, not the carbon – for the latter protects and feeds you and keeps you warm, the former wants you dead.

  13. The good news?
    Ethanol from corn is exempt from crop damaging weather.

    This cold weather won’t affect fuel prices, only food, because ADM has wisely chosen to convert more than 10% of it’s crop land over to corn.

    /sarc

  14. There are varying degrees of subsidence farming, but for the most part, unless you have a large area and a decent lighting set-up complete with water, its difficult to grow much more then “fun” stuff inside….mainly herbs and spices that you can use to spice things up so to speak.

    Peppers are another choice that is fairly decent inside, but for the true food, I for one rely on outside plants for my gardens, and if its too cold, that too will be effected. There are crops you can grow indoors, but its mostly the novelty plants, and for the rest you need outdoor type setups. Corn for one is something that requires a very finicky set of conditions and although you can fiddle with it a bit if its summer-time for instance with over/under watering and soil conditioning, it does not stop the fact that some plants just do not do well indoors. That is not to say its impossible, but I truly think corn for one is a plant that is nearly impossible to grow indoors.

    On the other hand, I typically have corn year-round because I have an extra freezer and I freeze all the corn I harvest…but thats a different story….

  15. ES says:

    “So in March, you are probably going to see higher prices at the supermarket and less supply at the supermarket, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be produce available. There’s going to be plenty of vegetables to come,” Jungmeyer said.”

    Excuse me, but how does it serve me if there are plenty of vegetables at higher prices? Are you immune to all increases in price? Are you not aware that the supply can be enormous while most people are suffering lower quality nutrition? For example, and there are hundreds, throughout this winter I could have bought all the tomatoes I wanted for a mere $4 per pound. That is more than a dollar per tomato. Do you really expect me to pay that? I have not.

  16. The headline in the New York Times will read “Global Warming causes crop losses not seen since the 50s, says expert”.

  17. What makes this so obscene is that if this were 1973, Hansen, Schneider (RIP), Mann, Gore and the lot would be crying “This is proof of an impending ice age, and man has caused it!”
    Their solution would be to geo-engineer a fix, and that fix would be to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible.

    How much worse would this have been if the global temperature were not higher due to global warming? How much more crop damage would there be without the benefit of healthier plants due to higher levels of CO2?

    If this same weather occurred in 1957, then you’ll not convince me that it can’t or won’t happen again in 2065. All the more reason to have non-climate dependent energy sources at the ready.

  18. It’s time to bring back the idea of winter vegetables. The following list is good but completely misses the squash family. These hardy gourds, if planted early enough so they mature before the fall freeze kills the vines, can be stored in very cold temperatures and will continue to provide good food and nutrition throughout the winter. If the fall freeze comes early, you can pick them when still a bit green and they will continue to ripen. We designated one room of the house as our gourd room and just put them down on the bare floor. Because these winter veggies are cold tolerant, their prices may stay down compared to the imparted designer veggies we have gotten spoiled on.

    http://www.vegetable-gardening-and-greenhouses.com/winter-vegetables.html

  19. Re: the talk about home gardening – Most people have neither the time, knowledge, or space to grow anything other than window box tomatoes, and that isn’t exactly a well rounded diet. But, be that as it may, those who do embark on the gardening adventure would be well advised to learn the craft of food preservation. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/ . Mason jars would be a wise investment if the predictions of future crop failure due to cold come to pass.

  20. Warming is a pleasant walk in the park. Only cooling can cause anything representing a catastrophic situation for Man. Food must always remain our primary priority, everything else is a luxury. GK

  21. Mike McMillan says:
    February 12, 2011 at 6:28 am:

    “Meanwhile we’re subsidizing corn for gasohol.”
    This is what I have been saying for years. As DW says:” taking food out
    of the mouths of babes is-sinful-you can’t eat natural Gas-use that!”

  22. 1) Thanks Oliver Ramsay .. that need saying. It was patently ridiculous to suggest we can feed ourselves from a window box. In Canada we rely heavily on production and transport of produce almost year round in Canada. The 100-mile diet is a silly concept in a cold, northern climate. The idea of year-round production in greenhouses simply does not work. Storage of sme locally grown produce (root crops) is possible but expensive..more so than transportation from the south. Hell.. last summer was so wet and cold in summer than millions of acres of wheat and canola were not even planted in western Canada.
    2) Fresh produce is EXTREMELY price elastic and a small reduction in supply can double prices.

    Clive

  23. As the oncoming cold weather regime starts to bite, delicate crops will need to be grown further and further south. By changing to more cold tolerant types of crop, farms will still be able to provide plenty of food – turnips again anyone?

  24. If anyone has it some historical information on freezes like this inMexico 100 ago would be interesting and add to the discussion.(non adjusted temperatures)
    A window box is fun but you need additional light to really grow lettuce and such in Feb/March. It is the daylength that plants need. That said you can get some lettuce ,radishes inside but just don’t add in the cost of a light fixture,cost of electricity, seed,soil containers and more. (maybe you can get a goverment subsidy)

  25. Mexico loses 80-100% of crops to freeze, US prices to skyrocket

    And they’re constantly trying to frighten people with how a little warmth might affect crops. Cold is the problem and not a tenth of a degree rise in temperature. Only another Mini Ice-Age will knock sense into these morons.

  26. It is obvious that whatever global warming is, it is not enough to prevent these kinds of freezes. (By the way, vulcanism has on numerous occassions caused similar crop failures even in Summer months even before significant use of fossil fuels.)

    In any case, a logical argument could be made that we need both more warming and more CO2 in the atmosphere to maximize crop yields. Of course, even though corn based ethanol does increase CO2 emissions, it is not wise to burn food for fuel.

  27. Not a problem.

    After all, according to all those who pointed out that freezing conditions in the US and Europe are actually caused by Global Warming, it was in any case really warm in North East Canada and Greenland.

    You can just import all your green beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, asparagus, peppers and round and Roma tomatoes from there.

    Simples!

    \sarc off.

  28. I’m not sure where Oliver grows his parsley, however we manage to grow enough produce from a 16′ by 36′ garden to feed ourselves and other family for better than a year: planning your planting. Less dependence on a global produce economy that relies on local climate and the economy of transportation/storage/distribution.

    On the other hand, we knew this was going to happen, we try to get the word out to stock up; unfortunately, some will take the defeatist remarks of folks like Oliver which only prevents some people from at least making an effort to produce their own food. Any amount of success by the masses takes pressure off the market. Growing your own produce and meat will have a cumulative affect. Less time texting and more time being independent on a system that is susceptible to disasters.

    The cluster industry attached to the food production markets will also suffer. Remember what happened to Napoleon. It was the climate that brought the suffering of Europe; unrest and death that defeated the powers of governments. Economies that collapsed as well.

  29. Turnips, cabbage ,broccoli, throw’em in a pot with a little Bison, or grass fed beef,
    add carrots and you’ve got dinner!I am building a Greenhouse however….

  30. The deep freeze that happened way south of the border
    Has led to a food shortage of highest order.
    More CO2 please,
    Regulations to cease
    For freezes like this can cause civil disorder.

  31. Here’s a news flash. Anyone that has been to the grocery store knows that the prices of all sorts of produce are already shooting upwards and have been for some time now. We’ll see, if there is suddenly a shortage of cannabis, then we’ll know the cold has truly adversely effected these crops. I’ll remain skeptical of the gouging until then.

  32. Clive and Oliver must be neighbors.

    The middle nineteenth homesteaders of Alberta lived on the land during periods of cold. They prospered by working the land and building local markets that resulted in today’s modern produce market in Canada.

    By the way, Canola oil comes from rape seed; a mustard family plant. Canola is a semi-drying oil that is used as lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base, and as an illuminant for the slick color pages you see in magazines. It is extremely toxic. The word Canola was coined to reduce the rape seed fears. Canola oil for consumption has been somewhat detoxified, but not completely. Isothiocynates are prevalent in rape seed. They are used to make mustard gas to kill people in trench warfare. Remember that?

    Fortunes are made by the rape seed lobbying the FDA to allow Canola Oil to be marketed as food. Help yourself to a daily dose of glycosides. Do not take my word for it, take a chemistry class, do a lab project around rape seed. Oh, by the way, if you heat it, be sure to do that little experiment under a hood.

    Meanwhile, do not expect any help from other country’s to feed you. Asia is cold, India is cold, Australia will be cold again, South America will have another cold winter. This list is getting long.

    Best wishes!

  33. Theo Goodwin says:
    February 12, 2011 at 7:49 am

    “I am interested in hearing from Gore, Hansen, Schmidt, and all the usual suspects about this Mexican freeze.”

    Sorry – but they’re off preparing the soil to grow vegetables in their CAGW Victory gardens! I’m sure the dirt in New York City is just perfect for gardening…the crops could be added to their list of “robust climate products”… \sarc

  34. If you want to add another worry to this ….the summer could suddenly go bad as well:

    “Icelandic Volcano That Dwarfs Eyjafjallajökull Looks Set To Erupt In 2011″

    “Einarsson warns that Bárdarbunga could have a much bigger impact — its last major eruption produced a huge ash cloud and the largest identified lava flow in 10,000 years.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/brdarbunga-iceland-volcano-2011-2

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/iceland/8311924/Icelandic-volcano-set-to-erupt.html

  35. R.S.Brown says:

    “Sorry, smokers.

    The pot crop that cycles with the corn crop in
    that area is up in smoke too,”

    Contrary to my expectations, my experience is that pot is remarkably frost-hardy. (apparently immune to the gubmint’s attempts to regulate it, too!)

    Best,
    Frank

  36. Oliver Ramsay (February 12, 2011 at 7:56 am) yammered: “No, it won’t!”
    “It will give you a sprig of parsley for your styrofoam pasta.”
    “Agriculture produces food.”

    I’ll be darned. Then I guess my tomatoes (two varieties), bell peppers, brocolli, carrots, et cetera, plus the greens I sprout inside must be figments of my imagination.

    What do you think “agriculture” is? Just factory farms with megabuck combine harvesters?

    Heck, I almost never buy produce. The last I can remember purchasing was parsnips (which I don’t grow but had a sudden urge for). Not sure when that was; may have been 2009 sometime. Growing for your own use is really pretty easy. I also save seed, and compost waste for fertilizer, which keeps things cheap.

  37. DJ says:
    February 12, 2011 at 8:42 am
    What makes this so obscene is that if this were 1973, Hansen, Schneider (RIP), Mann, Gore and the lot would be crying “This is proof of an impending ice age, and man has caused it!” Their solution would be to geo-engineer a fix, and that fix would be to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible. >>>

    Nah. Too easy to do, no research to fund it, no gravy train so to speak. A few thousand physicists would do the rough calcs and prove the amount of CO2 required to be significant was pretty much impossible anyway.

    Research into gigantic covered cities, underground labyrinths, population control, plants that grow in the dark, gigantic nuclear powered grids that could melt entire glaciers, some of them as soon as 2035, but most importantly…pollution credits. We’d pay 3rd world countries to adopt energy sources high in aerosols so that they become more wealthy saving the planet and the rest of us continue to have clean air. Just don’t tell the CBOE about how wind works until after they set up the trading system.

  38. When the climate was warming, we were told to cut back on CO2 emissions to prevent global warming. But now that the climate is beginning to cool, we are told to cut back on CO2 to prevent extreme (cold) weather events. Which is it? Cutting back on CO2 cannot be the answer to every problem. Either it warms the planet, cools it, or neither. But it can’t do all three.

    A good way to determine whether a climate scientist is a true scientist or an environmentalist hack in disguise is to get him to answer the following question: “What climate conditions would persuade you to call for more CO2 emissions?”

    If he says none, then he is primarily an environmentalist who wants to curb or end industry to save the planet. Climate change is just a means to that end. But if he says CO2 helps warm the atmosphere and therefore may be of value in reducing the effects of long-term global cooling, then he is primarily a scientist.

    I submit that the James Hansens and Michael Manns of the world would never call for an increase in greenhouse gas emissions even if they knew that we were headed toward an ice age. That is because their real goal is environmental. They want to curb modern industrial output, reduce the population, save the planet from humans, and make money for themselves in the process.

  39. Theo Goodwin @ February 12, 2011 at 8:35 am
    says:
    Excuse me, but how does it serve me if there are plenty of vegetables at higher prices? Are you immune to all increases in price? Are you not aware that the supply can be enormous while most people are suffering lower quality nutrition? For example, and there are hundreds, throughout this winter I could have bought all the tomatoes I wanted for a mere $4 per pound. That is more than a dollar per tomato. Do you really expect me to pay that? I have not.
    I did not right that. It you had bothered to slick on the link you could see that thr reporter Sergio Avila that! I was quoting from the article.

  40. GARY KRAUSE – I am highly reactive to Canola oil -I literally have to watch
    everything that has it I even react to Bio Diesel that uses that crap,er alternative
    fuel…
    Other day I was behind a VW Westfalia with “biodiesel” “Windpower” “Obama-Biden”
    etc. Stickers on it. The air was blue with rancid oil smoke. My throat tightened, and I felt nauseous-no kidding. It was the Biodiesel.
    Ironically I had a Gr. Uncle who was killed at the Battle of Belleau Wood.The Marines
    there were killed by Mustard Gas…

  41. What is soaring food prices in US to the imploding government of Mexico?

    This’ll put the incompetent Mexican government under such a tremendous strain that it might imploding and not in the good way like is currently happening in Egypt.

    What other democratic government on this planet would, effectively, sit idly by when heavily armed national and foreign drug-communist-forces make battle for control of local and federal authority? The Mexican government has been loosing it’s authority and monopoly of violence for decades, but it’s loosing it ever faster the more of it they loose and how much does it really take before a cowardice incompetent government cave completely to overwhelming authority by armed force and violence by doped up crazed homicidal drug hawking communists?

    If the Mexican government implode due to external stress due to internal stress that is ready to act as an evil positive feedback loop, the definition of skyrocketing prices might get redefined completely sooner than would be thought possible.

    But the Mexican government doesn’t seem to care all that much about the bigger picture, I think other wise they’d gone all WWII carpet bombing on the drug communists’ rich fat fart hole boxes a long time ago.

  42. Oliver’s comment was about ‘small styrofoam window boxes’, not outside gardens. With such you might grow a few tomatoes or bell peppers, but you wont feed even one person anything like a sufficient or balanced diet. Even a 16′ x 36′ outdoor garden isn’t “feeding” even one person. You might keep a few people in carrots and tomatoes, a few beans or cucumbers, but it takes at least 1/4 acre of good soil to feed a person, if you’re meaning to use a home garden to be self-sufficient. Beets and lettuce wont feed a person for very long. You need corn for meal and animal feed, wheat for bread, these crops take up a good amount of space.

    Yes, you might keep yourself and family in fresh vegetables with a small garden, but don’t think it will support your family in the event of disaster.

  43. “It’s time to bring back the idea of winter vegetables. ”

    California’s central valley has the potential to produce a lot but this year courts have shut off the water to large areas of the valley. Areas that used to produce tons of produce are now little more than dirt. Many of the larger farms have moved to Mexico where they can get irrigation water. Many of the largest farms in Monterey and Southern Santa Clara counties now have large operations in Mexico.

  44. And I think it is key that California consumers understand that their food bill will skyrocket because of the delta smelt issue and the court rulings. Had there been more US produce in the central valley, the prices would not be quite so high.

  45. ES says:
    February 12, 2011 at 11:16 am
    Theo Goodwin @ February 12, 2011 at 8:35 am
    says:
    “Excuse me, but how does it serve me if there are plenty of vegetables at higher prices?”

    The role of prices is more and more misunderstood since socialists took over institutions in the developped world.

    High prices are by far the single most important factor to increase production, regulated low prices sabotage production.

    Prices were depressed in the 90s and the first half of the 2000s with disturbing consequences:

    Production did no longer meet demand, stocks declined globally but more over farm after farm went bankrupt. The average age of the American farmer is now 58. Where shall new farmers come from and who shall teach them ?

    Low food prices cause increase in demand but no increase in production, (except then incidentally, the increase due to the beneficial warming and CO2 fertilization).

    This had to lead to higher prices at some point to increase production. And this point is now. And sadly, it conincides with the start of global cooling.

    And guess what higher prices will eventually cause: more production and lower prices !

    If instead prices are regulated and kept artificially low,

    what does it help if prices are low, but not enough food available to feed everyone ?

    Look at the Soviet Union in the 1920s or North Korea …

  46. Here is why this site is not credible – If the earth was a continuous temperature gradient and climate dis-stabilization was also continuous it would be relevant. But its not. And cold in Mexico can mean many things. Just as warmth in Greenland can. Right>?!?

    But you avoid the technical evaluation for truisms and conspiracy theories.

  47. @ JakeW says:
    February 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Oliver’s comment was about ‘small styrofoam window boxes’, not outside gardens. With such you might grow a few tomatoes or bell peppers, but you wont feed even one person anything like a sufficient or balanced diet. Even a 16′ x 36′ outdoor garden isn’t “feeding” even one person. You might keep a few people in carrots and tomatoes, a few beans or cucumbers, but it takes at least 1/4 acre of good soil to feed a person, if you’re meaning to use a home garden to be self-sufficient. Beets and lettuce wont feed a person for very long. You need corn for meal and animal feed, wheat for bread, these crops take up a good amount of space.

    Yes, you might keep yourself and family in fresh vegetables with a small garden, but don’t think it will support your family in the event of disaster.

    I don’t totally agree, but a great deal of what you say depends in large part on location. I have a 2500sqft garden in MS that provides nearly year round crops that are sufficient to provide 2 people with most veggies. If I were to grow corn and wheat you are correct that I’d need to expand it considerably. However if one is willing to modify their diet then other crops can substitute for those to some extent, including winter root crops. That said, I have approx. 30 acres I could use, if needed, to provide food, timber or other crops for sale or trade as well family use. The issue is not so much the available land for production – there is plenty of that – but the logistics of distribution to urban areas where there is no land available and everything must be “imported”, and waste “exported” .

    Total self sufficiency is an impossibility. No single person can provide everything that is needed for their survival, except at the most basic caveman level and even that is doubtful. Which is why we formed tribes and developed specialties. Some farm, some hunt, some make tools, etc.

  48. “Prices were depressed in the 90s and the first half of the 2000s with disturbing consequences:”

    Well, something else happened, too. Mandates for ethanol and soaring demand for high fructose corn sweetener resulted in a lot of land being shifted into corn production and out of wheat, soy, oats, etc. The result is that grain surpluses have disappeared. We basically now live “hand to mouth” in grain production. An untimely frost in the US Midwest will have immediate impact on availability of grains globally. We no longer have a surplus from which we can make up the difference if one small region loses their crop due to flood, drought, or frost.

  49. JTT says:
    February 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Wrong.
    Your ‘warmth’ in Greenland is an illusion caused by the substituion of anomaly for actual temperature.
    It does not matter how anomalously warm it might be if the temperature is still tens of degrees below zero.
    It does matter in Mexico that it got anomalously cold when the temperature fell from above freezing to below freezing.
    And besides, the farmers in Mexico could have been warned of what happened in S. America during their last winter, and been prepared for the hopscotch effect now in it’s 3rd year.
    There are several of us here in this board who did sound the alarm, yours truly included. Trouble is, those able to pass the warning were also the ones who actively covered up the 2010 S. American event.
    Your allegation of this board being nothing but conspiracy theories is without merit.

  50. Plants love CO2 and warmth.

    It’s the severe cooling of frosts that cause crop failures. And, if it gets worse for the next few decades – which it will with the Grand Solar Minimum grinding to its inevitable nadir in 2030 – watch out for widespread famines!

  51. JTT says:
    February 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm
    Here is why this site is not credible – If the earth was a continuous temperature gradient and climate dis-stabilization was also continuous it would be relevant. But its not. And cold in Mexico can mean many things. Just as warmth in Greenland can. Right>?!?

    Here is why YOU are not credible. This site is loaded with scientific articles and discussions that make a mockery of warmist alarmism. The sarcastic comments you see in this thread are often from people who have read that science and this story is just an example of a major event the warmists repeatedly said would be a thing of the past, and when it happens they say they predicted it. So if you think the sarcasm and disparaging remarks are not credible, I suggest a couple of options.

    1) Jump into any of the science threads and read. Debate if you disagree.
    2) If you have a credible scientific comment to make about this event, then make it. I’ve little doubt you will get a response about the science you state.

    What you don’t get about this site is when the warmist alarmazoids venture into a science discussion, they get torn to shreds. So they carefully avoid the actual science. They deserve the disparaging remarks about their work and about themselves, and it will only get worse until they either admit they are hopelessly wrong are put some actual real science with real data on the table to show they are right.

    Absent that, they are merely charlatans, clowns and thieves.
    But you avoid the technical evaluation for truisms and conspiracy theories.

  52. No problems, we have enough oil to produce plastic film to construct hot-houses to protect the plants from freezing conditions caused by Global Warming.

  53. The facts is that the human population is highly unlikely to be devastated by either warming OR cooling. The difference between humans and animals is that animals are either beneficiaries or victims of changes in their environment, but they don’t have any choice in the matter. Humans are capable of not only making choices, but making changes as well.

    We haven’t lived in caves for thousands of years. We build everything from small houses to skyscrapers and make them as warm or as cold as want inside. We’ve been genetically engineering crops and livestock for centuries via selective breeding to produce species that are productive in places where none were before. Where there is desert, we irrigate. Swamps? Drain them. Rivers in the wrong place? Divert them, dam them. We not only have choices, we have control.

    There’s no much mother nature can do to devastate the human population on a global basis anymore. We can engineer, build and adapt the environment to our needs, we need only the will and the energy supply.

    The only thing that could devastate the global human population is…

    Humans.

  54. “even a small styrofoam box indoors near a window in winter, will give you some food, and its going to be fresh, no chem if youre smart, and as close to free as the cost of the seeds.”

    The organic hobby gardeners have pretty much guaranteed that virtually no common fruit or vegetable is likely to survive anywhere in or around my entire county. We have pretty much every blight, disease, and pest you can think of. I’m reminded of the fundamentalist types who eschew medical care, resulting in teenagers dying from strep or ear infections.

  55. I grow all my own tomatoes, (5 varieties) spinach, peppers, bell, and jalepeno and thai. Beet root, cucumbers (two types) Hops for home brew beer. Black and blue berries, Apples (3 varieties), plums, apricots, quince, Cherries, figs, parsley, horse raddish, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, pears, juniper berries, pumpkins, eggplant and brocoli, cauliflower, chives, green onions and garlic. I also keep fowl, sheep and goats for meat. Fish are in the river. I irrigate by pump from a river in drought and by roof gathered rain water tanks otherwise.

    I don’t grow wheat, corn, potatoes or tropical exotic stuff. My garden is raised beds built of sheep, horse, chook manure mixed with local soils and sweetened according to crop with crushed limestone dust. I make most of my own fertilizer by fermenting garden waste in 100 liter bins of water for a couple of months and by adding animal dung to the soil in the winter months. My garden size total up is about 500 sq meters and growing every year as I add one or two new raised beds.

    I spend about 10 hours a week in the garden averaged over a year, of course some months I spend 1 hour/week, others more like 25hours/week. The animals take up about another 2 hours a week to care for, the sheep being the most difficult because they have to be sheared, although the fleece is worth a pretty penny.

    Yeah, I could get a real job and make more money for 11 hours a week, maybe, but it would come with some negatives, like sitting down instead of being out in the sun and rain digging and playing, watching the clouds and smelling the roses grow. And we wouldn’t eat nearly as good.

    My favorite game is price comparison at the super market. Believe me, we eat like aristocrats!

    I started garden years ago, but with no practical experience. Totally self taught, trial and error, plus a bunch of reading. Any one who likes to work with their hands can do it. It’s the perfect thing for those with a skeptic and independent mind. Plus, as a bonus when you get into a debate with a Latte-sipping Intellectual prig who is into “slow food” in order to “save the planet,” but wouldn’t know spade from bucket, you can claim the moral high ground.

  56. Carl Bussjaeger says:
    February 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Oliver Ramsay (February 12, 2011 at 7:56 am) yammered: “No, it won’t!”
    “It will give you a sprig of parsley for your styrofoam pasta.”
    “Agriculture produces food.”
    ————————————————-
    Well, Carl, your tone is disagreeable and smug, so it’s no surprise that you can’t read straight, you leap to ludicrous conclusions and you delude yourself as to the magnificence of your gardening enterprise.
    Since you’re not really talking about styrofoam window boxes but would prefer to tell us about your extraordinary success with tomatoes, I’ll just point out that it’s not difficult to calculate how much land, time, water and (wow! you did that yourself?) compost it takes to raise the grains, vegetables and fruits that an individual or family needs to survive or thrive.
    This year, after you’ve forced a bushel of unwanted zucchini into the arms of your unfortunate neighbours, why not just reflect on all the food you BUY and how it came to be available?

    Gary Krause, thank you for a more civil comment.
    The truth is that you didn’t feed anybody’s family on a garden that size unless it was growing the crop that R.S.Brown alluded to. Yes, you get a bunch of nice, fresh veg. but that’s just a small part of the story.
    As for the name of rapeseed; that’s still how it’s called in the UK. Canola was introduced for the genetically modified version. The name rape comes from the German Raps, which has nothing to do with violating anybody or anything.
    Btw, for years I grew a much larger garden than what youre talking about. I tilled it with a horse and cut ice from the river for storage. I canned hundreds of quarts of wild fruit each year… etc. It was fun but it still wasn’t self-sufficient.

  57. Garry Krause

    “The middle nineteenth homesteaders of Alberta lived on the land during periods of cold. They prospered by working the land and building local markets that resulted in today’s modern produce market in Canada.” Their efforts are to be admired for sure. But it was terribly inefficient and hard. My grandparents settled in central Alberta in 1908 and I am rather familiar with homesteading agricultural techniques.

    But surely you don’t REALLY think that today, city folks all across the northern hemisphere can do that.

    I really do not get what you are attempting to say….that we ask the one million people in Edmonton and Calgary (and tens of millions of other city dwellers in cold northern cities) to start mini gardens to supply food year round and forget imports? That is naive “back to the land” eco babble. We are talking about efficiently and safely feeding millions of people. Utopian, small-scale farming concepts just don’t feed masses of people. Period. It makes a few back-to-the-landers feel good.

    Modern agriculture frees about 98 to 99 percent of society to work in medicine, engineering, health care, education and a myriad of other professions and services that make our society what it is…and it is not that bad based on the life expectancy of people today.

    There are six billion folks on earth that need to be fed. Subsistence farming is horrifically in efficient. I learned that on my dozen trips to northern China where one peasant farmer feeds one other person. The subsistence farming you propose (are you saying that??) is a terrible waste of human effort and land. Who is going to mind the store if Calgarians are out hoeing the spuds and cabbage? I ain’t gonna play well in Cowtown. ☺

  58. It is too late, but rational minds could decide to re open California to irrigated crops like the years under Bush.
    Maybe this year, alternative media will cover food inflation. Energy and food prices have been removed from the consumer price index because that is where the inflation is.

  59. Keep getting closer to rioting or civil conflicts. Here.

    This couldn’t have come at a worse time. Just when Odumma announced heating assistance cut of 50% to the poor.

    connect the dots, why do you think Odumma is pushing for extending the wireless internet to everyone while cutting funding for heating oil? SO THEY CAN SPY ON EVERYONE! Especially those in remote areas more likely to be the “survivalists”?

  60. Planting season has not yet started in the US.
    I haven’t been posting much on this WUWT blog as I see my work here is almost done here.
    I have been working in other Internet areas to help bring about the justice the world most desperately needs.
    I implore you guys here, if you want to be a part of the world wide revolution taking place, please do your part and speak up about the ethanol subsidies and put an emergency end to them. Just get off your computers, get on the phone, email those with influence, and just do it yourselves. We still have time.
    Thank You all My Brothers and Sisters.

  61. Planting season has not yet started in the US.
    I haven’t been posting much on this WUWT blog as I see my work here is almost done .
    I’ve been working in other Internet areas to help bring about the justice the world most desperately needs, and it is working.
    I implore you guys here, if you want to be a part of the world wide revolution taking place, please do your part and speak up about the idiotic ethanol subsidies and put an emergency end to them. This will help introduce a greater variety of crops this summer we will surely need. Just email those with influence, get off your computers, get on the phone, and just do it yourselves. We still have time.
    If there’s anyone else out there with the credibility you guys have on WUWT, Not, you will accomplish this task.
    Thank You all My Brothers and Sisters.

  62. When I lived in New Zealand, in the Wairarapa as significant fruit growing region, wine growers used to hire helicopters to “circulate” the still, frosty, air over vinyards during cold periods. And as usual, like in Australia, these growers had no insurance, and looked to the Gubmint….errmmm…I mean sucker taxpayers…for a bailout!

    Revolution is indeed needed. The Tunisian event may lead to that.

  63. RE: “China Town” all over again.

    Who are the folks that funded the sucessful lawsuit for the benefit of presumably-endangered delta smelt that resulted in shutting off of water for the croplands and orchards in the Central Valley? The really rich city guys who want cheap land for their country estates and hobby farms, that’s who.

    After the farmers and ag companies go bust and sell off the land for pennies on the dollar and after the rich city guys snap up the land, new studies will find the delta smelt is not all that endangered, and the water will once again flow into the valley. After all, estates with big swimming pools, horses and hobby vineyards and country clubs with new golf courses will need lots of fresh water.

  64. During the Great Depression over 30% of all Americans lived on farms. With over 30% of all other Americans out of work, the chicken you might get from a relative who still lived on a farm made a big difference, back then.

    Far too many Americans are now completely divorced from the land. For all that folk have said, on this site, about “efficiency,” the result of becoming overly dependant on agribusiness is a sort of slavery. Nor can the consequences of being “free” from the family farm be measured merely in terms of nourishment. Many social ills have their roots in the fact the father no longer could afford to work at home, and later the mother could not afford to work at home either.

    My farm runs at a loss, but we turn a profit by running a day-care for all the parents who are “free” to work their poor fingers to the bone, paying for homes they barely use, other than as a bedroom. Our pitch-to-the-public is that the children can experience what a farm is like. The children we get are amazingly clueless, when it comes to anything that has to do with the outdoors. Surprisingly often a child will make a statement that reveals stunning ignorance about matters which American children once knew as a matter of fact.

    Once I took the kids out to pull some carrots, and one little girl wrinkled her nose in disgust. She said, “Why do you get carrots from the icky dirt, instead of a clean store?” When I explained that all carrots came from the dirt, her eyes grew wide with wonder.

    I am often troubled by what the children are fed, on a daily basis. I may not like to agree with the first lady about anything, but Ms. Obama is right to point out that proper nourishment is vital. Many children have a breakfast that amounts to sugar and starch, maybe with milk (if there is any time.) Mothers have no time for eggs, toast and bacon, with orange juice and a half-grapefruit, it seems. It is rush, rush, rush, to get a so-called “freedom,” (which is always off in some tomorrow, and never today.)

    Maybe it makes me seem anti-progress, but I made video gadgets illegal right off the bat. Little children would arrive, retire to a corner, and diddle a video gadget with their thumbs, never even raising their eyes to look around. When such toys were banned, some children went through a brief withdrawal, but swiftly learned to interact socially. Of course this involves a lot of childish quarreling, but quarreling is how small children learn about things such as sharing.

    One charming little girl arrived amazingly clumsy. She quite literally could not walk on a surface that was not flat as a floor or a sidewalk. Walking on a path in the woods on her first day, she fell five times during a tour I was giving her parents. I was worried, but her parents were eager that she “experience nature,” and agreed not to sue me, if the child scraped her knees. She did scrape her knees, often, but within only fourteen days she was hopping from rock to rock on a stone wall, with the other children. Kids will adapt, if you only give them a chance.

    It turns out many cases of ADD can be cured with the most common-sense things: Make sure a child has ten hours of sleep, proper meals, and outdoor exercise. To give such children a pill displays sheer laziness on the part of adults, but the adults always protest, “I’m so overworked!” And they call it “freedom.”

    I respect and admire any and all who attempt any sort of back-to-nature gardening or cottage industry, though it should be obvious to all you won’t get rich. (If it made much money, more would do it.)

    Many quit, as soon as they understand how much toil is involved in getting-back-to-nature. There is no getting around the fact farming of any sort can be very uncomfortable. The sun is not always shining and the birds are not always singing, that’s for sure. And dirt is always dirty, and manure sure does stink. However there are benefits which cannot be measured by economists, with their musty charts and inky graphs.

    I recall reading somewhere that Thomas Jefferson worried what would become of our democracy when people moved off the family farms. We are now witnessing what he worried about.

  65. Actually ethanol has had more to do with the price of food this past year. We subsidize ethanol and use 15% (?) of our corn for this product. That causes a increase in price for food producers, example cereal, up goes supper market price. I am in favor of running out of the picture the global warming crow, but the ethanol fools are even more dangerous. They will starve millions of poor people to death in third world countries.

  66. sceptical me says:
    Greenhouses can be made to work on the grand commercial scale in a cooler climate.

    They can be use year round for sure, but on large scale, that is not practically, environmentally or economically correct.

    I have worked with greenhouse producers (at 49 to 55° N lat) and even grown winter crops of cauliflower (WAY back in time). I have attended GH operations in Iceland ~64°N lat. I conducted applied research on GH energy conservation in th early 8Os. Two years ago I completed a major report on organic production of GH crops. I was a “professional” horticulturist for over 40 years.

    GHs offer a great way to produce crops in cold climates BUT are very limited in winter.

    Winter production of greenhouse crops is VERY limited in winter for many reasons. (I am NOT talking about small operations. I am referring to their ability to “feed the masses.”) The main greenhouse crops are peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers although many others are grown as well. These crops are indeterminate and produce for extended periods (months) vs. just one harvest (say) like cauliflower. The main crops produce exceptionally high yields over time..they are also high value crops.

    Winter light levels in northern latitudes are abysmally low for weeks. A transplant of cauliflower planted in the field on May 1, will produce a mature head by (what?) say, August 1 .. about 90 days. (I think less actually. Broccoli is about 60 days.) Now that same transplant put in a GH on November 1, will not produce a marketable head for about 5 months…more like 150 days. And its yield (head mass) will be less as I recall. And the heating costs?!?!

    I recall doing energy audits of GHs in the 80s. Approx two thirds of a GH annual energy budget is used in one third of the year…Nov through Feb….. when light levels are the lowest. High energy costs and lowest production…not a great comination.

    Yes, artificial lighting can be used in GHs in winter. And you could use solar and wind electricity for lighting. Crops can also be grown in indoor factories. BUT… the actual cost and environmental costs of such ventures are prohibitive. A wild guess that tomatoes (not a food necessity) pridued in the dead of winter would probably cost $30 a pound. That’s why tomatoes come from CA and MX for several weeks in winter. In Alberta, GHs supply tomatoes from between about March to November with peak production between about May and August when light levels are best.

    We can store field-grown potatoes, rutabagas, cabbages and carrots (for example) for months. But storages are very expensive to construct and operate. Again, it makes more economic sense to produce elsewhere in winter. Again…I am speaking of feeding the masses. Back-to-the-landers can eke out a living with root cellars and small greenhouses.

    For many fresh vegetables, it is less expensive and more environmentally sound to produce crops in southern climes and transport them.

    Regards

    Clive

  67. CLIVE
    For many fresh vegetables, it is less expensive and more environmentally sound to produce crops in southern climes and transport them. >>

    All your points seem valid, but I think you missed the context. This discussion was triggered by events in Mexico which raise the question; What happens if a cooling earth results in southern climes being unable to produce enough food to transport in the first place?

    That changes the equation. We live in an affluent society where “want” and “need” mean the same thing. They don’t. We want a new car. We need food. In the event that a cooling earth changes the equation, the economics that mean GH and other approaches are not viable change, and they change a lot. Consider GH technology not for Iceland for example, but for Mexico, in a climate a couple of degrees cooler than optimal due to global cooling. Or for giant stretches of Saharan desert where the purpose would be to contain moisture rather than heat.

    There should be little doubt over the next few years if we are facing a cooling trend or not. If so, the alarmists will start screaming doom and gloom just like they did in the 70’s and demanding action, money for research, government programs.

    And the solution to any real problems that arise will be exactly the same as it always has been. Some things will go up in value, others down, definitions of want and need will be adjusted. Things that weren’t economicaly viable in the past will become so, changes in value will result in new technologies and techniques that maximize value efficiency and production, and the world will move on without any major disruptions.

    Unless of course we’re dumb enough to let the IPCC, the UN, and various other mountains of blood sucking leeches fool us into letting them help. They’ll probably even claim they should be allowed to because of the stellar job they did with the warming cycle. Leeches never change, they just suck more blood no matter what.

  68. A cooling earth is economically and politically destabilizing. Bad weather was a major factor in the UK’s short term economic downturn this winter. My grandfather, a department store manager, used to say that shopping days lost to bad weather never come back. Our economy is dependent to a large degree on frivolous impulsive shopping that is weather related. Food prices obviously also factor into the climate-economy link.

    Many if not most industrial economies are up to their eyeballs in debt, accrued on the blissful assumption of never-ending economic growth. If climate puts a significant brake on economies, then expect more Greece and Ireland scenarios – in nations bigger than Greece or Ireland.

  69. I just want to remind everyone that it is farms AND farmer’s surplus that make cities POSSIBLE. Any event that removes our surplus makes cities untenable. GK

  70. A 25 lb sack of dried beans is fairly cheap, but will supply a lot of bean sprouts in a pinch, and bean sprouts are a fresh vegetable. Untreated radish seed makes yummy spicy sprouts. A sack of rice, a couple of sacks of beans, and peas and lentils, and some winter squash kept cool and dry will get a family through a bad time, especially with some canned fish or meat in the freezer. Of course, all that has to be stocked in at the end of summer, and depends on someone somewhere being able to grow rice and beans and squash. Great stuff if you are snowed in!

  71. Well, this discussion is not to debate the ecomony of scales in any particular industry. Any garden will be better than no garden at all when the produce section of your favorite shop is empty. Additionally, no expectations for those with no land to produce any sort of veggie; however, the point here is we suddenly with seeming surprise see many important areas of agrigulture production being stunted. Are your cupboards full?

    As for garden size, we extract plenty from our garden to enjoy an annual bounty despite some who argue I do not. WUWT???

    Not everyone is blessed with the amount of land we own. But is it not interesting that community gardens are on the rise and offer those with the ambition and foresight to engage in produce gardening. It is a rewarding activity of plentiful food and rewarding accomplishment.

    Surely, (don’t call me Shirley) we shop at the super markets…but we also enjoy the fruits (punn?) of our labor. Try gardening on any scale.

    Scoffers…. go scoff…

    Be good. :)

  72. oops, I see my fingers are thickening.

    Should read: As for garden size, we extract plenty from our garden to enjoy an annual bounty despite some who argue I do not. WUWT???

    …and: But it is interesting that community gardens are on the rise and offer those with the ambition and foresight to engage in produce gardening. It is a rewarding activity of plentiful food and rewarding accomplishment.

    (could it be the homemade beer? No way.)

  73. In the year Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death (1815) crops failed all over New England, which is at the northern edge of the area where it is normally possible to grow corn. That year it became impossible. There were frosts in both July and August, which meant there was no corn at all that year: No corn for silage for cows, no corn for chickens to peck, no cornmeal for the poor folk who couldn’t afford flour. People faced a grim winter, but at first they had plenty of meat, because they had to butcher a lot of their livestock, because even the hay crop was tiny, and there was no way to keep their livestock alive through the winter. Entire herds of dairy cows became meat. (The rich folk, who didn’t want to butcher their horses, had to import hay from Pennsylvania.)

    Poorer folk faced starvation as the especially bitter winter set in. Starvation wasn’t all that appealing, so all sorts of ingenious foods were used. Acorns were boiled to remove the tannic acid, and became a form of flour. Cattail roots and inner white pine bark produced other flours. Certain weeds, like dandilion and pokeweed, were dug up in the late fall, after they became a dorment root, and later warmed by the fire, so the sprouts that sprang from the roots, (as the plants thought it was spring,) could be eaten as a vegatable. So, in the end, few actually starved, though many went hungry.

    One neat local story involves a cantankerous farmer who was notorious for planting odd crops. For some reason he had the intuition it was unwise to plant corn that year. Perhaps he noticed the brilliant sunsets caused by Tamboro’s volcanic ash, and recalled some lore about such sunsets. Whatever the reason was, he was a sort of laughing stock in the spring for planting a less-than-profitable strain of wheat that happened to be frost-tollerant. (The summer before had been very warm, in New England.) In the end, as all the other farmers faced crop-failures, he harvested a bumper crop. As the story goes, he kept his town alive that winter.

    Census figures show that 1810 was a high water mark for many New England towns. Those folk may not have been into “immediate gratification” to the degree we are, but one summer like that was all many needed, to convince them a “southern” place like the frontier of Ohio sounded a heck of a lot better than frosts in July and August in New England. Most town’s populations had recovered by the 1960’s, but there are still a few towns in rural New England that had more people living in them in 1810 than live there now, 200 years later.

    And the moral of the story is? Make friends with a North Dakota farmer, and see if you can buy a couple pounds of his seed-wheat.

  74. @ Gary Krause,

    Nobody’s disparaging your garden, just your claim that “… we manage to grow enough produce from a 16′ by 36′ garden to feed ourselves and other family for better than a year:”
    I whole-heartedly share your enthusiasm for tilling the soil, but not your proclivity for exaggeration.

  75. Clive,

    I liked your pragmatism, and the sensible points you made about greenhouse gardening.

    In the old days it was simply impossible to get fresh tomatoes in the dead of winter. People canned, and before the Bell Canning Jar was invented in 1885, people pickled just about everything in sight, in big crock pots, including pig’s feet and herring.

    Most every home had a root cellar, and an apple barrel, and an winter-evening chore was to carefully go through the apple barrel and remove the apples that were starting to go bad, because everyone knew “one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.”

    The bad apples were not thrown out, but rather pared with the bad spot removed. The pig got the peelings. Nothing was wasted, but even so stuff ran out, as winter dragged on. Cabbages, squash, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and even potatoes got more and more grungy and withered, as the months past. By Lent there was a very practical reason for the fasting. Things were simply running out.

    Regarding tomatoes, my Great-grandmother, (born in 1851,) grew them in her garden, but forbid my Grandfather, (born in 1888,) from eating them. She grew them as a “ornamental,” and called them “love apples.” They were deemed a dangerous aphrodisiac, libel to “enflame the passions.” The Italian gardener ate them, and had eight children, which, in my Great-grandmother’s mind, proved her point.

    That avoided the whole problem of how to get them in January, I suppose.

    Regarding greenhouses: I’m sure, on a small scale, people can use this technology, which our great-grandparents lacked, to produce a small amount of mid-winter greens, and even reduce the heating bills of their houses, if ingeniously attached to the southern sides of their abodes.

    However in terms of agribusiness? Forget it. For the reasons Clive makes so clear.

  76. America would be EXPORTING food and have low food prices if California’s Central Valley farms weren’t shut down by the Federal government’s protection of the frigging Delta Smelt. The Endangered Species Act as applied in California is criminally stupid liberalism run amuck. Unfortunately, it’s granted little attention from our nitwit media.

    In an almost endless number of ways, America is obsessed with committing suicide for the sake of political correctness and childish, outmoded do-gooderism. America needs to grow up.

  77. Climate Science continues to ignore the lessons of history. High food prices were predicted more than 200 years ago as a consequence of the current low sunspot numbers.

    Drawing analogies with variations in the brightness of stars, in 1801 the astronomer William Herschel suggested that greater sunspot activity would result in warmer earth climates. Herschel supported his hypothesis by reference to price series for wheat published in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. [Hufbauer, 1991.]

  78. One consequence of this crop-freeze about which I can’t seem to find any information: Who are the affected Mexican farmers?

    Are we talking about a bunch of large corporate farm operations, possessing sufficient cash buffers to make it through a season with no income? If so, even though they may survive to plant again, there’s going to be huge economic consequences in a region already teetering on the tapped-out edge. An area seeing 25%-40% unemployment can’t take much more of a hit and remain viable. Worse, (in a sociological sort of way), tax revenues are going to drop off to (0.00 + [a very little bit]), in a region whose control is being violently contested by well-financed drug cartels. Law enforcement and military power in the region already suffer from lack of resources and incredibly low pay for hazardous duty. What happens when the cartels’ bribes become the primary cashflow for the region?

    Of course, the other scenario is potentially much worse. Is the affected area farmed by family-farm-sized operations? Do they have many small farms all selling in to a central gathering point? If so, the ability of those farmers to last through an entire growing season with all normal costs and no income is problematic. Look for large-scale property-ownership displacement, as the majority of those farmers lose their land, or at least lose the ability to plant another crop.

    If this is the actual situation – if this freeze dispossesses thousands of small farmers – it will also wipe out hundreds of small local economies as well as entire state economies, and all this will occur in a country whose government cannot presently pay its employees, much less deliver a safety net of food if its people begin to starve. We ought to be thinking in terms of that safety net now, because even a small delay in its delivery (with the attendant mass starvation amongst a very poor, food-brittle population) is going to produce violent revolution.

    If violent revolution does begin, it will turn north very quickly. Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, replied “that’s where the money is.”

    North is where the food is.

  79. The pot crop that cycles with the corn crop in that area is up in smoke too,

    In North America the good stuff is mostly indoor hydro. Of course the lights increase CO2 production (coal fired plants). I have read reliable reports that CO2 enhancement is used to increase indoor production and lower the electrical cost per unit of output.

    I can see the current food problems encouraging people to go to grow op stores with the cover story: “tomatoes” .

    And I’m already way too off topic. BTW Instapundit linked this article:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/114929/

    and:

    Food – Force Majeure which also linked back here.

  80. what towns exactly?
    another cold freeze hit border areas AZ etc 1957.
    what about central a m –
    ericaine suppliers?

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