TitleDrought effects on US maize and soybean production: spatiotemporal patterns and historical changes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsZipper, SC, Qiu, J, Kucharik, CJ
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Date Published2016
ISBN Number1748-9326
Keywordsagriculture, Climate change, drought, food production, SPEI, yield variability

Maximizing agricultural production on existing cropland is one pillar of meeting future global foodsecurity needs. To close crop yield gaps, it is critical to understand how climate extremes such asdrought impact yield. Here, we use gridded, daily meteorological data and county-level annual yielddata to quantify meteorological drought sensitivity of US maize and soybean production from 1958 to2007. Meteorological drought negatively affects crop yield over most US crop-producing areas, andyield is most sensitive to short-term (1–3 month) droughts during critical development periods fromJuly to August. While meteorological drought is associated with 13% of overall yield variability,substantial spatial variability in drought effects and sensitivity exists, with central andsoutheastern US becoming increasingly sensitive to drought over time. Our study illustratesfine-scale spatiotemporal patterns of drought effects, highlighting where variability in cropproduction is most strongly associated with drought, and suggests that management strategies thatbuffer against short-term water stress may be most effective at sustaining long-term cropproductivity.