7.6 Mapping the Decision Calendar across the U.S. Corn Belt

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 11:30 AM
Room 245 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Melissa Widhalm, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and T. Haigh, E. S. Takle, J. Andresen, S. Carlton, and J. R. Angel

Agricultural production in the U. S. Corn Belt depends upon favorable weather, and climate variability affects agricultural decisions and outcomes at many points throughout the year. A better understanding of when producers make decisions throughout the year may help climate information providers develop more usable resources and tools, and decision calendars have been proven useful for identifying opportunities to insert climate information into the decision making process. The extent to which decision making time periods are localized versus generalized across the major crop producing regions such as the U.S. Corn Belt is unknown, as it spans a region of significant climatic, geological, and vegetation gradients. Based on a 2012 survey of more than 4,770 agricultural producers across the U.S. Corn Belt region, we examined the timing of decision making at the heart of on-farm management of climate risk, including input purchases, seeding rate, tillage, insurance, cover crops, and propane purchase for grain drying. We found variation in timing of decision making points in the crop year, based on geographic variation as well as crop management differences. We also found that many key decisions in the cropping year take place during the preceding fall and winter, months before planting. We will discuss our findings and describe implications for developing usable climate information tailored to agricultural risk management.
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