Study Says Corn Prices will take the Heat from Climate Change
Posted by Becky Fried
A new study by scientists at Stanford and Purdue University projects that corn prices in the United States will become much more volatile in the near term because of more frequent severe heat conditions expected to result from human-caused
American corn farmers know from experience that weather events like flooding,
The new study, published in the journal Nature Climate, integrates historical data from each of these areas agriculture, energy, economics, and weatherwith models of future markets and climate scenarios to determine the effect of climate-change-induced heat extremes on price volatility for corn. The authors conclude that climate change impacts pose a particular
The study highlights the close relationship between American agriculture and climate change that has been investigated in other scientific documents such as the U.S.
Corn grows in almost every state and is very responsive to changes in climate, said Jerry Hatfield, Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, in a recent statement. As the temperature gets warmer, corn reproduction and grain development are going to be decreased, everything else equal.
Exposure to extreme temperature events during the critical pollination phase can be particularly detrimental to corn yields because pollen doesnt survive well in extremely hot conditions. Temperatures above 95F, for example, will reduce the number of pollen grains that are able to complete fertilization, decreasing the number of kernels per ear of corn. Some producers are already taking steps to cope with these impacts, such as planting crops earlier to avoid having pollination occur on the hottest days, or switching to different crops altogether.
The new study on price volatility is an important reminder that as the frequency and severity of extreme weather events increases due to climate change, farmers may feel the effects on the ground, and citizens may feel them in their wallets.
Learn more about climate change and agriculture here: http://www.usda.gov/oce/ climate_change/
Learn more about corn in the National economy here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/background.htm
Becky Fried is a Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy