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The steep rate of increase in yield of grain crops in the United States since the mid-1950's has resulted in the use of the term "explosion in technology." Surplus grains piled up to such proportions after the 1960 · harvest that acreage control appeared. to be in order. But despite substantial reductions in acreages after 1960 the increased output per acre has just about compensated for acreage reductions. During this period of rapid increase in output per acre there has been a growing tendency to believe that technology has reduced the influence of weather on grain production so that we no longer need to fear shortages due to unfavorable weather.

There is also a popular belief that acreage control$ fail to achieve the objective of production control, and that public funds are being wasted in storing surplus grains which we don't need.

There is increasing evidence, however, that a period of favorable weather interacted with technology to produce our recent high yields, and that perhaps half of the increase in yield per acre since 1950 has been due to a change to more favorable weather for grain crops.

These findings have important implications in continued support for research in production technology and in the way in which we look at our surplus stocks of feed and food grains. If a period of favorable weather has been responsible for half of the increase in yields since 19501 then what can we expect if the weather trend reverses itself for a few years? Do we have periodicity in weather, and have we just passed through a run of favorable years that might be followed by a run of unfavorable years? Should we treat our surplus grains as reserves? How does our rate of growth in grain output compare with the needs of a growing world population? And of course I in the background of these questions is one big question -- how much of our recent high yields is really due to weather?

To answer these important questions the Center for Agriculture and Economic Development invited outstanding authorities to present their ideas under three main headings: (1) Techniques for Evaluation of Weather Variables in Agricultural Production I (2) Periodicity in Weather Patterns: Implications in Agriculture I and (3) Weather Considerations in Agricultural Policy. The papers have been assembled in the order of their presentation under the general outline above.

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Center for Agricultural and Economic Development, Iowa State University


Ames, IA


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agricultural Education | Agricultural Science | Agriculture | Climate | Economics | Meteorology | Statistics and Probability

Weather and our food supply