Tailoring management of tomato production to ENSO phase at different scales

Carlos D. Messina, David Letson, James W. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The opportunity to benefit from climate prediction arises from the intersection of human vulnerability, climate predictability, and decision capacity. Climate forecasts, like other technical innovations, are not an unambiguous boon to growers. Florida's tomato industry was shown vulnerable to predictable climate variability. This industry is characterized by a small number of decision makers who may have profound influence on aggregate supply, prices, grower's decision capacity, and potential benefits of climate predictions. The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential benefits of ENSO forecast information as a function of the scale of adoption. Using a participatory approach, biophysical modeling, and economic modeling, we estimated the value of ENSO forecasts at the field, farm, and regional scales for Florida 's fresh tomato production. Simulated yield reductions in El Niño years relative to neutral years (∼20%) compared closely with historical results (∼23%). At the field scale, we showed that growers can adjust planting dates to reduce negative impacts of El Niño on yields and increase productivity during La Niña years. Adoption of climate forecast can help growers increase income and reduce costs at the farm scale. At the regional scale, the aggregate forecast value to producers increased with increasing adoption. However, our simulation results suggest that widespread forecast adoption can offset and perhaps eliminate the benefits of forecast adoption to individual tomato growers. Climate forecasts are an emerging technical innovation that may improve productive efficiency for Florida's tomato growers. However, if tomato growers' responses to ENSO forecasts will affect agricultural markets, then growers should consider those market changes when deciding whether to adopt these forecasts. Future development of technology to apply climate forecasts in the tomato industry should focus on strategies to reduce costs rather than to increase tomato production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1993-2003
Number of pages11
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • ENSO
  • El Niño southern oscillation
  • Optimization
  • Simulation models
  • Tomato management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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