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Climate and Crops: A Guide to Variable Climate Farming

Climate and Crops: A Guide to Variable Climate Farming

 AUBURN, Ala.— Forecasts show a worsening drought expanding across the Southeast. Drought threatens Southeastern states’ economic health. In Alabama alone, major row crops generated more than $663 million in 2015.

With crop prices low,  farmers need tools to help ensure that the 2017 season is profitable. Climate and Crops, a new iBook from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University, is the tool that farmers need.

Dr. John Beasley, head of Auburn University’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, points out that farmers can control every production variable except the weather.

“Weather is the most difficult challenge they face,” said Beasley, who is a contributor to Climate and Crops. “Until now they have not had a tool to manage the one thing they can’t control.”

“This free iBook provides farmers with tools to take advantage of the knowledge base that has developed regarding how crops are affected by climate.”

Dr. Brenda Ortiz, scientific editor of Climate and Crops and Auburn University associate professor says thanks to breakthroughs that merged the sciences of agronomy and climatology, food producers can now base crop decisions for the next year on global climate patterns.

“Row crop farmers across the Southeast are very concerned about the next planting season,” said Ortiz, who is also an Alabama Extension precision agriculture specialist. “Growers can use Climate and Crops to anticipate risks and improve their preparedness.” In addition, she notes that the iBook, which recently debuted at the American Society of Agronomy’s national meeting, can enhance farmers’ profitability.

Multi State Effort

Twenty-five climate and crop experts specializing in agronomy, entomology, plant pathology, climatology and weed science from four of the Southeast’s leading research universities: Auburn University, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, and Florida State University contributed to the project. Alabama Extension specialists representing several scientific disciplines also contributed.

Alabama Extension director Dr. Gary Lemme says this is the first one-stop, comprehensive digital resource for farmers.

“This new iBook provides strategies for adapting to and reducing climate-related risks,” said Lemme. “Alabama Extension and Auburn University are proud to be leading the way helping farmers have a better understanding of how climate variability affects their crop production.”

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded the project through a multi year grant. The iBook focuses on the Southeast’s five major row crops: corn, cotton, peanut, soybean and wheat. It features multiple interactive options, including 17 videos, 33 interactive graphics and hundreds of images related to problematic insects, diseases and weeds.

Each chapter includes basic considerations associated with crop production. Additionally, each chapter covers potential climatic conditions that may occur during the growing season and how these affect each of the principal crops in terms of planting, crop growth and development, insect, weed and disease pressure and harvesting. Along with the risks, farmers are provided with the most effective management strategies to deal with each of these climate scenarios.

Climate and Crops is intended to be a comprehensive resource not only for farmers, crop consultants and Cooperative Extension professionals but also for school teachers who want to introduce their students to how farming practices are increasingly being adapted to new findings about climate variability.

Learn more about Climate and Crops at http://www.aces.edu/climateandcrops.

About Maggie Lawrence