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Kevin P. McNew, Harry P. Mapp, Claude E. Duchon, and Earl S. Merritt

Numerous studies have examined the importance of weather information to farmers and ranchers across the U.S. This study is focused on the kinds of weather information received by farmers and ranchers, the sources of that information, and its use in production and marketing decisions. Our results are based on a survey of 292 producers from the principal agricultural areas of Oklahoma. Producers were classified into five categories related to their source of income from crop and livestock sales.

Among temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, and wind speed, temperature information was most widely received. Forecast lengths of highest interest were 24-h and 5-day forecasts. Precipitation information was used by many respondents for planting and harvesting decisions. Weather data and forecasts seem to be of greater value to diversified crop and livestock operators than specialized crop and livestock, perhaps due to more frequent timing decisions. Relative humidity and wind information appear to be important especially during specific times of the growing season, for example, at harvest time and time of pesticide application. Television is the primary source of weather information for more than 60% of the producers.

It appears that there may be a role for both public and private entities in transforming weather data and forecasts into recommendations to crop and livestock producers. Further research is needed to determine the potential value of weather information for alternative production, marketing and livestock decisions, different categories of producers, and different geographic regions.

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