Manitoulin is relatively protected by Lake Huron so the climate trends we’re experiencing will not likely be a huge detriment to crops and only minor changes would be required.
The biggest change that may be required is increasing the number of fields with tile drainage to deal with increased spring precipitation.
With tile drainage, crops can be planted earlier in the spring so they have enough time to establish root systems to help deal with summer drought conditions.
Hay is the most grown crop on Manitoulin and it along with winter wheat are particularly susceptible to winter kill.
With increased winter precipitation in the form of rain, the ground could be covered in layers of ice rather than the typical snow pack. This prevents oxygen from getting to the plants and could lead to increased winter kill.
An increase in the freeze thaw cycle can cause the roots of overwintering hay to be drowned.
While the winters may be more difficult for hay, a warmer and wetter spring could be beneficial in terms of growth.
- Preventative measures could include increased seeding in the Fall as well as earlier planting.
A decrease in summer precipitation or an increase in summer evaporation due to increased air temperatures could slow the growth and reduce the yield of these plants.
Barley and oats grow best in cooler climates so an increase in summer air temperatures could also reduce growth on its own regardless of precipitation.
- Preventative measures could include earlier planting to avoid extreme heat and lack of precipitation.
- If springs are expected to be extremely wet having tiled land would also be a benefit.
Legumes establish deeper roots and will be better suited to dealing with summer drought conditions.
However, legumes are also susceptible to winter kill and it may be necessary to keep an updated stand that's tilled every 4-5 years.
The number of frost-free days and the number of growing degree days (GDD) are predicted to increase across Manitoulin which is an overall benefit for crop agriculture.
- From 1981-2010 Gore Bay had on average 209 frost free days per year. By the 2080’s it is expected there will be on average 276 frost free days.
- From 1981-2010 Gore Bay had on average 1813.7 GDD. By the 2080’s it is expected there will be on average 3006.4 GDD per year.
- From 1981-2010 Little Current had on average 204 frost free days per year. By the 2080’s it is expected there will be on average 273 frost free days.
- From 1981-2010 Little Current had on average 1741.7 GDD. By the 2080’s it is expected there will be on average 2917 GDD per year.
- From 1981-2010 South Baymouth had on average 218 frost free days per year. By the 2080’s it is expected there will be on average 289 frost free days.
- From 1981-2010 South Baymouth had on average 1761.4 GDD. By the 2080’s it is expected there will be on average 2988 GDD per year.
- Heat stress is unlikely to be a major health issue unless cattle have zero access to shade. The water consumption of cattle may increase and more grazing may occur during cooler periods of the day. If it is too hot bulls will not breed and the calving season may be delayed. Planting trees or allowing for bush access to provide shade could be a preventative measure
- If calving occurs in the winter or spring and there is a lot of temperature fluctuation, calves may be more susceptible to illness and respiratory issues like pneumonia. Wetter springs could also lead to an increase in scours, naval infection and foot rot. Wet springs lead to more flies which are stressor for cattle and if extreme summer temperatures are added on top of that as well as moving cattle, it could lead to a reduction in weight gain.
- Higher temperatures could mean that sheep require shearing twice a year as opposed to once in order to reduce heat stress. If the spring is also particularly wet there will be more flies which lay eggs in the wool of sheep and the maggots could begin eating the sheep.