09/27/2012 07:30 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2012

California Farmers Face Dramatic Changes Due To Volatile Weather

This article comes to us courtesy of California Watch in collaboration with KQED.

By Mark Schapiro

Ten miles outside of Modesto, in the farming town of Hughson just off Highway 99, the Duarte Nursery is at the front line of dramatic changes now under way in California's immense agriculture industry.

The family-run nursery, founded in 1976, is one of the largest in the United States, and there's a good chance the berries, nuts and citrus fruits eaten across the West began their journey to market as seedlings in Duarte's 30 acres of greenhouses, labs and breeding stations.

The nursery's owners have built a thriving business using state-of-the-art techniques to develop varieties adapted to the particular conditions and pests California farmers face.

These days, according to John Duarte, president of the nursery, that means breeding for elevated levels of heat and salt, which researchers say are symptoms of climate change - even if Duarte doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"Whether it's carbon built up in the atmosphere or just friggin' bad luck," he said, "the conditions are straining us."

Visit California Watch to read the rest of this story.