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Cornwall became subtropical, ideal for exotic crops

Staff Writer |
The subtropical weather in Cornwall means new exotic crops such as quinoa and Japanese persimmon are now more likely to succeed.

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This is according to a new technique developed by University of Exeter experts to monitor the climate.

Parts of Cornwall have become subtropical since 2000 and this could create opportunities to grow new, unusual plants. Sunflowers, maize, grapevines and tea are already grown in the Duchy.

Researchers from the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Penryn, Cornwall, have developed new techniques for modelling local microclimates. The models capture the effects of terrain, sea temperatures, altitude and soil properties to predict local temperatures, which can differ greatly from those measured at weather stations.

Using these models, they have been able to identify particularly mild parts of the landscape that would be most suitable for growing unusual crops associated with warmer climates.

Sheltered coastal valleys are often buffered from the coldest temperatures by the more stable sea temperatures, and south-facing slopes are often up to 15 degrees warmer than the surrounding landscape.

The model shows that the amount by which temperatures have increased over the last 40 years has varied across the county, as Cornwall has become sunnier as well as warmer, but some locations have benefited from this more than others.

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