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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 #385360

Research Project: The USDA ARS Climate Hubs - Increasing Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability by Impactful Development and Communication of Climate Smart Agricultural Research and Practices - Ames, Iowa

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Meeting the drought information needs of Midwest perennial specialty crop producers

item HAIGH, TONYA - University Of Nebraska
item OTKIN, JASON - University Of Wisconsin
item WOLOSZYN, MOLLY - University Of Colorado
item Todey, Dennis
item FELKLEY, CHARLENE - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/5/2022
Publication Date: 7/1/2022
Citation: Haigh, T.R., Otkin, J.A., Woloszyn, M., Todey, D.P., Felkley, C. 2022. Meeting the drought information needs of Midwest perennial specialty crop producers. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 61(7):839-855.

Interpretive Summary: Midwestern producers of crops other than corn and soybean are regularly under-served with weather information because of a lack of understanding of how weather and climate affect their production. These weather and climate impacts are often under-reported because USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weekly crop reports include data from these crops only in a few states. The variety of crops and locations make gathering and reporting information difficult. This research focuses on information gathered from various crop producers (grapes, apples, potatoes and cranberries) in the Midwest to understand potential times during the production year where various weather issues can greatly impact production. Crop calendars were subsequently developed to understand and report various decisions and timing where production can be affected by weather/climate events throughout the year. This research will be used by crop producers to understand important decision times and to develop a wider array of crop calendars for other crops. Climate services providers will better understand weather and climate information needs at points in the season. The information will also be used to track climate changes and impacts of changing climate conditions on crop production.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural production in the U.S. Midwest is vulnerable to drought, and specialty crop producers are an underserved audience for monitoring information and decision-support tools. We investigate the decision-making needs of apple, grape, and cranberry growers using a participatory process to develop crop-specific decision calendars. The process highlights growers’ decisions and information needs during the winter dormant season, spring and summer growing season, and fall harvest season. Apple, grape, and cranberry growers tend to be concerned with the effects of short-term drought on current crop quality and quantity, while also taking into consideration how the long-term drought context affects the health of perennial plants and future years’ production. Cranberry growers expressed unique needs for hydrologic drought monitoring information. Drought management decision calendars identify points of entry for currently-available drought monitoring resources and tools, and highlight gaps where additional research and tool development is needed. We identified needs for higher-resolution data; improved seasonal, inter-annual, and longer-term climate predictions; and improved usability of drought monitoring tools and resources to better meet the needs of perennial specialty crop growers.