Down and Dirty with Rachel

Aug 31, 2022 | Experiences, Information

The other day, I was looking up at the great cottonwood tree in my courtyard, listening to the gentle melody of wind chimes. Peace washed over me. But mixed with this peace was sadness. The cottonwood’s gnarled branches and scars of branches removed betray stories of decades past. “Is it going to have any progeny survive to bear witness to stories of decades future?” I wondered.
grapesA couple of weeks ago, I went to New Mexico Wine’s Grape Day conference, where the focus was climate change’s impact on grape growing and wine making. Climatologist Dr. Gregory Jones showed us that by 2050, some regions of New Mexico and the world will have to grow entirely new grape varieties due to predicted rising temperatures. Even today, changing temperatures and growing seasons are changing the flavor profile of wine. This could spell shocking news for wine lovers and vineyards alike. But it can also be seen as an opportunity to develop new wines and grape varieties.
Another speaker was Dr. John Clark from the University of Arkansas in my hometown. I would venture to guess he is one of the top plant breeders in the world. (Most of the fat, juicy blackberries you get in the store come from one of his varieties. Or if you have a thornless blackberry bush at home? That is also likely thanks to him.)  Dr. Clark described the process of crossing varieties and selecting for desired traits.Just as the cottonwood in my yard has adapted its growth each year to different environmental conditions, we will have to adapt to our changing climate in part by growing new varieties of grapes and other crops.

EarthChange is hard. But change and the need to change can lead to some of the greatest opportunities. When I interviewed for the Sandoval County Agricultural Agent position, I said that we could use the drought as an opportunity for Sandoval County to become a leader in water-wise agriculture. Farmers are notoriously, and understandably, reluctant to change, but I have already heard area farmers express interest in new irrigation practices. Humans are an adaptable bunch, and I am optimistic that Sandoval County agriculture will thrive for much longer than the old cottonwood has been alive. Even if that entails finding a new favorite wine.

puzzle​Last month’s puzzler: Can you simplify the following polynomial that is composed of 26 factors: (x+a)(x-b)(x+c) … (x-z)?
Answer: If you start from (x-z), you will notice that we get (x+y)(x-x)…. Since (x-x) = 0, the whole polynomial simplifies to 0.

This month’s puzzler
: What is special about the following words: revive, banana, grammar, voodoo, assess, potato, dresser, uneven?

Rachel Zweig is our new Sandoval County Agriculture and Extension Agent

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