As Michigan feels the effects of a changing climate, agriculture experts say they can adapt to keep farms running.\u00a0 Certain crops will be grown with less consistent yields, but those changes can also represent an opportunity for farmers willing to take advantage of the new conditions, experts say. \u201cThe three greatest ways that we\u2019re seeing impacts now are increased temperatures, increased rainfall and more intense rain events when we are having rain events,\u201d said Kate Madigan, the director of the Michigan Climate Action Network, based in Traverse City \u201cWe\u2019re already seeing impacts on our agriculture, on our farms. The increased temperatures increase stress on plants, which can bring down the yield,\u201d she said. \u201cThere\u2019s no contest in that respect,\u201d said Phil Robertson, a researcher at Michigan State University\u2019s Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners. \u201cThe crops that are most vulnerable to climate change are the fruit crops.\u201d \u201cWe haven\u2019t yet hit the point where the weather makes it unsuitable to grow fruit \u2013 but one can imagine that in 20 or 30 years we may get to that point, or more quickly than we want,\u201d Robertson said. Joseph Rivet, the deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, also warned of biological threats that could come with climate change. \u201cWe know that warmer, wetter climates spur plant disease and pest infestations,\u201d he said. \u201cThat\u2019s a concept that is just as relevant as a 2-degree temperature change 30 years from now.\u201d Aside from stopping climate change contributors all together, experts say some crops may have a new opportunity to flourish. \u201cMichigan is actually in a better place compared to other states because the warming that we\u2019re seeing would allow farmers to have a little longer season,\u201d said Bruno Basso, an MSU professor and researcher at the Kellogg Biological Station.\u00a0 Farmers may be able to plant crops like corn a few weeks earlier in the year, which he says may benefit them.\u00a0 Julie Doll, a former Kellogg researcher and the chief executive officer of Michigan Agriculture Advancement, an advocacy organization supporting \u201calternatives to the commodity agriculture system,\u201d agreed: \u201cWe\u2019re seeing a longer growing season, which sounds really great and, in some cases, absolutely can be an advantage.\u201d In the agricultural region south of Michigan, the Heartland, certain crops are growing in greater quantities than in Michigan: soybeans in Ohio, melons and mint in Indiana and much greater quantities of corn and pumpkin in Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.. \u201cHowever, it can also be a longer season of risk, especially for perennial crops such as fruit trees, increasing their exposure to the risk of severe frost or freeze,\u201d Doll said. One idea discussed among experts is changing dominant crops in the region as environmental conditions become more favorable. Robertson said, \u201cOne can look at crops in states a little bit farther south and see what kind of crops those might be.\u201d Looking at modern examples of farmers adapting to environmental conditions, Robertson said, \u201cWhen you drive north now up the Lower Peninsula, you\u2019ll see corn a lot farther north than you would have if you were making the same drive 30 years ago.\u201d Robertson\u2019s observations reflect those made by the agriculture community in recent years about the so-called \u201ccorn belt,\u201d the latitudinal region in the U.S. where corn grows best. It has been noticeably shifting north as the average temperatures across the nation rises. A 2020 study from Pennsylvania State University found that ideal growing conditions for crops like corn, soybeans and sorghum will likely continue to climb northward, as seen in the unseasonably warm 2012 growing season. In 2020, Michigan was 11th in corn production. It failed to rank in the top 11 in soybean production in 2020, but was 10th in 2000 and 2020, according to CropProphet. As growing conditions become more favorable in the state, it may be able to regain some of the market share it once had. Basso also addressed the idea of shifting crops, cautioning that while it may be seen to some degree, \u201cobviously we\u2019re not talking about growing avocados.\u201d Farmers and agricultural communities need support to handle the changes that are coming, Doll said. \u201cWe need better social networks for them,\u201d she said. \u201cWe need to connect them better with each other to learn innovative ways of doing things.\u201d \u201cWe need to better support rural communities in which they live, so that we can have the strength of a more local or regional food economy where they have options of where to sell their products. And if they need to grow something different because of climate change, well, then they\u2019re going to need a market for that,\u201d she said. Doll said she\u2019s optimistic. \u201cEver since we as a species started to farm, we\u2019ve adapted. Farming looks very different, even here in Michigan, in the last 50-100 years than it did before.\u201d \u201cAnd so, agriculture can adapt really well to some of these slower changes.\u201d Sheldon Krause writes for Great Lakes Echo.