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Midwest Climate and Specialty Crops

Specialty crop agriculture in the Midwest is an important and diverse industry, valued at $4.7 billion in 2012. The Midwest produces a wide variety of specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, and greenhouse and nursery crops. The 2014 United States Third National Climate Assessment reports that climate disruptions to agriculture have been increasing, and are projected to become more frequent and extreme. Increased variability in annual and intra-seasonal Midwest weather is already evident with heavier rainfall events and drought. Temperature and precipitation fluctuations are affecting frost dates, weed management, soil erosion, crop productivity, and pest and disease life cycles. This variability increases the uncertainty and risks associated with planting schedules, quantity and quality of crops harvested, timing of labor needs, and the entire value chain from product storage and processing to marketing. While US agriculture has continually adapted to changing weather and climate conditions, the magnitude of future change is expected to pose increased challenges and new opportunities.

To develop a plan of work that responds to Midwest specialty crop needs, twenty-five specialty crop leaders, research and extension faculty from Michigan State University and The Ohio State University participated in a planning process using a concept mapping methodology. Researchers Lois Wright Morton, professor of sociology at Iowa State University, and Anna Johnson, a graduate student at Iowa State, offer this report on crop leader views and priorities shared during the planning process. The findings in this 19-page report will be used to focus future research and inform individuals developing a region-wide plan of work for the Midwest Climate Hub. This is just a beginning.

Pages / Length: 19
Publication Date: 02/2015

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