M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences
Atmospheric science; Agriculture--Economic aspects
Some of the costliest meteorological and climatological phenomena that occur in the United States (U.S.) are due to massive crop failures. Many fruit crop failures are caused by extreme cold winter temperatures or by false springs, which is when a hard freeze occurs in the spring after plants have broken dormancy and started to grow. The peach is one of the least cold hardy of the tree fruits making it especially vulnerable to freezing temperatures; thus, it is a favorable subject for the study of false springs and extreme cold winter temperatures. In this research, a decision-support tool was created to predict major, regional peach yield reductions based on the analysis of significant peach crop loss years in the Midwest (IL, MO, and AR) and Southeast (AL, GA, SC, and NC) U.S. from 1934 to 2016 using surface temperature data. The decision-support tool was tested on both regions for accuracy using data from high-yield peach harvest years and was found to function well in all of the sample years for the Midwest and 75% of the sample years in the Southeast. The decision-support tool was then tested on the false spring event of 2017 that occurred over parts of the Eastern U.S. The tool indicated that the entire Southeast region of the U.S. would likely experience a major peach crop yield reduction, while many peach growing areas in the Midwest might be spared as not all Midwest stations had accumulated enough growing degree days prior to experiencing a hard freeze. Composite 500hPa geopotential height anomalies associated with the "warm" periods of false spring events were 100m above average for the Midwest and 100--125m above average for the Southeast. Cold period composites of the low-yield years suggested 500hPa geopotential height anomalies were 100--200m below average for the Midwest and 100--175m below average for the Southeast. This forecasting information used together with the decision-support tool will assist those in the peach growing industry, as well as other tree fruit growers, to anticipate major, regional yield reductions.
Chun, Steven, "Predicting major peach yield reductions in the Midwest and Southeast U.S." (2017). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 4469.
Northern Illinois University
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