In past summers, berry lovers have visited Raising Cane Ranch on the banks of the Snohomish River for the juicy U-pick raspberries. But the plants started to die in 2012 because the soil is too wet. If the farm is even open for raspberry pickers this summer, it will possibly be for fewer days.
“I’m bummed,” says Pate, in a knit cap and rain jacket. “The patch was fun. We liked it when people came out.”
He has planted cider apple trees — still small in blue protective tubes — amid the berries, in hopes they will do better. “You have to be dynamic about meeting your needs,” he says.
Pate also planted blackberries where some of the raspberries died, and they’re doing well. In addition to berries, he offers beef, lamb and honey. Apples, currants and nuts are in the works.
Climate change might not be the only reason Pate is losing his raspberries, but there’s no doubt recent years have been wetter than he had expected.
And in coming decades, climate scientists say, the Northwest will continue to experience warmer air and water temperatures, drier summers, lower snowpack and more extreme precipitation events.
Pate and other growers in Washington are accustomed to dealing with natural climate variability. But now they face new challenges from human-caused climate change. What does this mean for our state’s food and wine production? These four growers share the details of their work to build resilience for the future.