Imagine a comprehensive sampling of every fruit, nut and other crop that is or has ever been grown in California packed into a concentrated and carefully protected site. This seemingly fictional prospect is actually a reality at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Tree Fruit, Nut Crops and Grapes – a 70-acre facility in Davis, California that contains two each of hundreds of these species grown in California’s past or present agriculture industry.

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Why would such a facility exist? According to Modern Farmer, these crops can’t be reproduced from seeds, and instead need to be replicated via cloning through the planting of a live, healthy cutting from a plant. And as climate change increasingly rears its ugly head in the form of high temperatures, droughts, floods and pestilence, the effects on California’s $17.2 billion fruit and nut industry and the crops that support it are becoming painfully clear. According to a 2009 UC Davis study, “(a)reas . . . for growing walnuts, pistachios, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries are likely to almost completely disappear by the end of the 21st century.”

Related: Drought in California and Texas Threatens US Food Security

Since California fruit and nuts not only add up to a lot of dollars, but account for more than half the nation’s total production, that means a big hit to food security in North America. So having a facility like the repository that preserves current crops and distributes cuttings to anyone who asks for them makes for an invaluable resource. What’s more, the facility banks crops that have a whole host of genetic traits that will be important as the weather of the future quickly becomes the present – like drought, heat and disease resistance.

Via Modern Farmer

Images via stephencurlin and artolog, Flickr Creative Commons