4.2 Weather Impacts on the 2015 U.S. Agricultural Growing Season: Corn Planting and Harvesting

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 3:45 PM
Room 338/339 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Brian V. Smoliak, The Climate Corporation, Seattle, WA; and M. F. Garvert and W. B. Leeds

Farming operations are highly sensitive to environmental conditions at a variety of timescales ranging from short-term weather impacts to seasonal climate variability. Two critical periods of activity in the growing season during which farmers can directly manage weather risk are planting and harvesting. The 2015 U.S. agricultural growing season is reviewed in terms of weather impacts on the planting and harvesting of corn, a cash crop that plays a major role in the national economy as well as state economies from Colorado to Ohio. This U.S. Corn Belt produces over a third of the world's annual corn crop. Impacts are (1) quantified with publicly available crop progress reports and an empirical model of yield response to planting date, (2) attributed to extreme weather events and seasonal climate anomalies, and (3) discussed in terms of the potential to mitigate losses using information from short to long range weather forecasts. It is shown that anomalously wet conditions delayed planting across the southwestern Corn Belt, whereas ideal conditions facilitated planting across the northeastern Corn Belt, with attendant impacts on harvest time and production. Reported planted acres are compared with pre-season forecasts to quantify in-season management choices. The results offer insights into the value of weather forecasts for farmers. Planting and harvesting are limited to narrow time windows constrained by local climate and corn hybrid relative maturity ratings. Thus, skillful weather forecasts at varying lead times can play a significant role in helping farmers effectively plan and manage planting and harvesting.
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