, Volume 121, Issue 4, pp 689-700
Date: 21 Sep 2013

The effect of El Niño Southern Oscillation on U.S. corn production and downside risk

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ENSO teleconnections imply anomalous weather conditions, causing yield shortages, price fluctuations, and civil unrest. We estimate ENSO’s effect on U.S. county-level corn yield distributions and find that temperature and precipitation alone are not sufficient to summarize the effect of global climate on agriculture. We find that acreage-weighted aggregate impacts mask considerable spatial heterogeneity at the county-level for the mean, variance, and downside risk of corn yields. Impacts for mean yields range from − 24 to 33 % for El Niño and − 25 to 36 % for La Niña, with the geographical center of losses shifting from the Eastern to Western corn belt. ENSO’s effect on the variance of crop yields is highly localized and is not representative of a variance-preserving shift. We also find that downside risk impacts are large and spatially correlated across counties.