(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
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.