The Double-Edged Sword of Above-Average Autumn Temperatures in Southern Ontario

Reading up on the latest plant ecology news and research has become an integral part of my day several times throughout the week. One news article posted September 22nd, 2016 in the National Post is still lingering in my mind a week after I read it, so I decided to write a blog post about it.

The article can also be found here.

To summarize the context of the article, a meteorologist by the name of Peter Kimbell predicts that fall temperatures will be above average this year. Senior meteorologist Brett Anderson highlights the potential impact of the drought that had occurred this summer. He states that trees became stressed, and this could potentially lead to leaves falling earlier throughout this fall season. This then leads to less vibrant leaves that can be seen throughout Southern Ontario.

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Now, you might not think there is any plus side to the impacts of drought. However, the article highlights that the Ontario Apple Growers expect their apple crops to be sweeter, more flavourful, and higher in yield this year. This is due to the fact that the apple crops are exposed to more sunlight when temperatures are higher, thus affecting the apple’s starch levels, making them sweeter as a result. Though the apples taste better, they will be smaller in size due to the drought conditions.

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Upon reading this article, I am saddened to hear that the beauty of the Autumn leaves will not be at their full potential this year. However, that does not stop myself and others from enjoying the marvellous sight we look forward to each Fall. If you love apples like myself, you may have felt ecstatic that apples will now taste sweeter and more flavourful, if that is to your personal taste. This may not be great news if you prefer your apples to taste a little more tart rather than sweet.

This article leaves me wondering how the trends in regards to Fall leaf colours of Southern Ontario and apple crops will look in the future. If temperatures are continually above-average annually, the trend of having less vibrant leaves each year may continue as drought conditions persist.This may be disadvantageous for the tourism industry, since less people may be willing to make the trip down to Southern Ontario to look at the leaves. If the trends continue for the apples, it would be interesting to see the impacts on the growers. Though people may prefer their apples to be sweeter, the decline in size of the apples may cause individuals to seek out other fruit options when grocery shopping.

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