Climatic Change

, Volume 121, Issue 4, pp 689–700 | Cite as

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

  • Jesse B. TackEmail author
  • David Ubilava


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.


Yield Distribution Downside Risk Corn Yield Corn Belt Crop Insurance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Michael Roberts and Wolfram Schlenker for providing the temperature and precipitation data, as well as Marc Bellemare and several anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

10584_2013_918_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3.8 mb)
(PDF 3.77 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EconomicsMississippi State UniversityStarvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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