Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation

By S. C. Pryor | Go to book overview

6.
Potential Future Impacts of Climate on Row
Crop Production in the Great Lakes Region
J. A. ANDRESEN, G. ALAGARSWAMY, G. GUENTCHEV,
PERDINAN, K. PIROMSOPA, A. POLLYEA,
J. VAN RAVENSWAY, AND J. A. WINKLER
introduction
The Great Lakes region spans the U.S. states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York and the Canadian province of Ontario (Figure 6.1). Agriculture ranks among the most important economic activities of the region, accounting for more than $19 billion in annual cash receipts in the U.S. states of Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin alone (USDA/NASS, 2007a). Agriculture in the region follows a south to north gradient, with intensive row crop monoculture in southern sections gradually giving way to forests and other natural vegetation across the north. Southwestern sections of the region form the northern boundary of the U.S. Corn Belt region (Hart 198).Crop production in the Great Lakes is strongly influenced by climate and weather. Previous research has identified water availability as a key determinant of year-to-year yield variability of regional row crops. However, the amount of thermal time and growing season length was also found to be of importance, especially for annual crops in northern fringes of the region (Andresen et al. 2001). The key climate parameters of consequence for dictating crop yields within the Great Lakes region include:
Drought: As described in chapter 2 of this volume, approximately only 3% of farmland in this region is commercially irrigated, largely for seed corn, potato, and soybean production (USDA/NASS, 2007b). Crop yields are highly sensitive to drought conditions, particularly during reproductive growth stages (Mishra and Cherkauer 2010). During extended drought periods such as 1988, large area yields for corn and soybeans were less than 50% of average trend yields (USDA/NASS, 2007b).
Flooding: Excess water is also a source of risk to crop yields in the region, and farmers lost large portions of their crops during the extensive flooding years of 1993 and 1997, particularly in western sections of the region (Rosenzweig et al. 2002).

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