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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #350569

Title: Climate and extreme weather events taking a toll on specialty crops in the Midwest

item Kistner-Thomas, Erica
item Todey, Dennis

Submitted to: Midwest Climate Hub Website
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2018
Publication Date: 3/8/2018
Citation: Kistner-Thomas, E.J., Todey, D.P. 2018. Climate and extreme weather events taking a toll on specialty crops in the Midwest. Midwest Climate Hub Website. available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: While the Midwestern United States ranks among the world's most important corn-soybean production regions, the area also produces a variety of high-value specialty crops. These crops are an important component of the region's rural economy with an estimated value of $1.8 billion in 2012. More profitable per-acre than many row crops, specialty crops also have higher production-related risks. They are generally more sensitive to climatic stressors and require more comprehensive management compared to traditional row crops. Temperature and precipitation fluctuations across the Midwest directly impact specialty crop production quantity and quality and indirectly influence the timing of crucial farm operations and the economic impacts of pests, weeds, and diseases. Increasingly variable weather and climate change pose a serious threat to specialty crop production in the Midwest. In this article, we assess how climate variability and observed climatic trends are impacting Midwestern specialty crop production using USDA Risk Management Agency data. In addition, we review current trends in grower perceptions of risks associated with a changing climate and assess sustainable adaptation strategies. Our results indicate that weather induced losses vary by state with excessive moisture resulting in the highest total number of claims across all Midwestern states followed by freeze and drought events. Overall, specialty crop growers are aware of the increased production risk under a changing climate and have identified the need for crop specific weather, production, and financial risk management tools and increased crop insurance coverage.