• Climate in the Gulf
• The Report
• For Teachers
• Slow the Change
• Speed our Response
• Water Resources
• Sea-Level Change
• Human Perspectives
Agriculture and Forestry
Agriculture and forestry are both enormously important industries in Texas and highly sensitive to climate change.
- For south Texas, climate models project drier conditions in the areas closest to the coast. As a result, the risk of wild fires would increase. This in turn would help maintain coastal prairies and grazing lands by suppressing the permanent establishment of invasive species such as the Chinese tallow tree.
- The production value of cotton in Texas is the highest in the nation. However, cotton production may decline without irrigation. Other crops, such as soybeans, sorghum, hay, vegetables, and citrus fruits could also suffer without irrigation. The fertilization effect from increased levels of carbon dioxide in the air will increase plant productivity only if the amount of water used for irrigation also increases sufficiently.
- Rice production in coastal areas would be particularly sensitive to an increase in water salinity.
- The managed shortleaf and loblolly pine tree forests in eastern Texas contributed over $12 billion to the state economy in 1997. They are vulnerable to drought and fire in areas that could become drier. As temperatures rise, the capacity of trees to absorb and store carbon decreases.
- Savannas and grasslands would expand at the expense of forests, particularly in the uplands of the Gulf Coast if the drier climate scenario were to play out.
- Warmer, wetter conditions would increase the risk of agricultural and forestry pests such as the southern pine bark beetle.
- Increased fire frequency in drier conditions would require significant adaptations in forest and fire management. It may lead to changes in species selection, stand density control, fertilization, and rotation length. Extreme, long-lasting droughts would seriously damage forests in the long-term.
Bluebonnet - A. Funke Taylor, www.actnowgraphics.com.
Cotton - S. Moser.
Southern pine bark beetle damage - Texas Forest Service, R. F. Billings, Image 0284017. ForestryImages.org.
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