Farming very difficult during Grand Solar Minimums

(Reader responds to a statement by Chris Voight, director of the Washington State Potato Commission, in Huge Delays for Northwest Planting Season.)

“We’ve had the longest winter ever,” said Voight. “Normally we start planting potatoes the end of February, but this year we weren’t able to start planting until April 1.”

Farming very difficult during Grand Solar Minimums

J.H. Walker

Grand Solar Minimums (GSM) take 10 years for the effects of climate change (cooling) to be locked into fossil records in North America and Europe. Winters become longer, start early and finish late. Spring and Summer are much more wetter than the same seasons during a benign warm period like 1945 to 2008.

This GSM has to finish this cycle Solar Cycle 24, possibly at the end of 2020. The next cycle (SC25) may be a much reduced 11 years long, with a full sized Sun Spot count maximum of 55. Yes, fragment short-lived spots will boost the spot count by a further 100 spots per month during Solar Max, but these produce far less UV than full sized ones.

UV controls our climate by moderating the normal meridional jet stream to far more lateral streams as during the Solar Warm Period. Following this GSM is a seventy years Tepid period call a Gleissberg Period similar to 1890 to 1940.

Farming during a Grand Solar Minimum will be very difficult, particularly in our Industrial mechanised heavy farming practise, which needs the soil to be dry to work on.

This has significant implications for crop yields. History repeats itself. The Dalton GSM caused millions of deaths in Asia due to drought and crop failures. The climate effects of the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA) 585AD and its following volcanism caused similar population reductions due to crop failure and disease.


16 thoughts on “Farming very difficult during Grand Solar Minimums”

  1. I don’t know what to say here but the price of a pack of rice has already risen here from $2.20 to $2.40 here in just 2 weeks time!
    It’s terrible!

  2. I am a bit confused. I thought that little and regular ice ages caused drought. The Great Famine was caused by being too wet.

  3. trying to farm crops is no easy task, my new land that Id watched for 9yrs got wet but not too wet…until the yr i bought it!
    I planred pasture and oats and lost the lot as the heaviest rains in yrs kept the block flooded for around 4 months! even the less pooled water areas were way to wet for even a smallish tractor to drive let alone work on;-(
    so I thought Id look to planting wild rice..and then it didnt rain as much, and next yr hardly at all..for an income or even to feed your own stock or yourself Farming is a massive gamble, and I dont use the expensive fertilisers chemicals and patented seed. trying to cover those costs bank loans and super duper equipment for commercial farming is an utter nightmare!

  4. It is also the case that most of our major food crops do not thrive with “wet feet”. However, many of the pathogens that can devastate our crops thrive when conditions are excessively wet.

  5. There’s another unusually cold snap over large parts of Europe and it is May. This is quite severe. The damage for the farmers could be significant.

  6. I am confused. Is JH stating that this GSM will finish this cycle Solar Cycle 24, possibly at the end of 2020, or is this wishful thinking? And the next cycle (SC25) may be a much reduced 11 years long, with a full sized Sun Spot count maximum of 55. Is this wishful thinking also? I thought if we are going into a GSM, we are looking to at least 2050 for it to end.

  7. I worked on a small farm during summers for much of my high school and college period. We farmed mostly vine vegetables like cucumbers, pickles, pumpkins, melons, etc. We would start our plants in a greenhouse to avoid frost in the spring and lengthen our growing season. We would also watch the weather forecast closely and cover our plants during any late-spring overnight frost events. The wet years were the worst. Mildew rot would destroy all of our crops early, sometimes before we could even pick anything off the vine. What we did pick was usually sub-par.

    The dry years were great because we had irrigation and we used water-conserving trickle hose under plastic mulch, which kept the mildew and other pathogens from splashing up off the ground onto the plants’ leaves. This style irrigation also allowed us to feed nitrate directly through the irrigation hose. This is not to mention that nobody else in the area had good yields during those years because they were big mechanized outfits with traditional overhead rotor irrigation, heavy pesticide use and no mulch. They watered so much that they would salt the soil and they had even worse mildew than normal years because the rotary heads sling water sideways, which disturbs the soil more than rain would. They also used a lot more nitrate than we did. We made a killing those years because prices jumped.

    Sometime during all of this we installed drainage all over the property and that really helped keep the mildew down and get rid of any standing water when it rained a lot. This with our other measures yielded enough that we couldn’t pick them fast enough during the hottest months. The farmers who are dealing with this unprecedented wetness will have to innovate similarly or they will not be able to produce enough to meet demand.

  8. Farming as we know it is not natural. Plants naturally grow as a poly culture and not a mono culture.

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