Could climate change put an end to Arizona’s alfalfa heyday?
It’s always alfalfa season in Arizona. In most other parts of the country, the perennial crop grows tall enough to harvest just a few times a year. But in the sun-drenched Southwest, the irrigated fields allow the crop to grow year-round, to the tune of 8.5 tons harvested for every acre and $397 million a year. All farmers need to do is add water. At least that’s been the case for the many decades that alfalfa has boomed and bloomed in the Arizona desert, providing feed to the region’s megalithic dairy industry. Now, accelerating climate change and depleting water availability could change this.