Guest essay by David Archibald

Back in late April, European wine growers were hit by the most damaging frost since 1991. That frost affected vines as far south as Tuscany. More recently it is the western Corn Belt that has been affected by late Spring frost. The following two figures show damage to crops from frosts a few days ago:

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Figure 1: Chickpea crop in Saskatchewan just north of the Montana border, 27th June 2017 (image source Mike Foley, yellow is frost-killed dead plant material)

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Figure 2: Frozen corn just east of McLaughlin, South Dakota, 27th June, 2017

(image source Joel Bierman)

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Figure 3: South Dakota Spring frost incidence 1974 – 2003

As Figure 3 shows, the majority of frosts for McLaughlin are usually over by mid-May.

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Figure 4: U.S. Drought Monitor

Warmer is wetter and colder is drier. In a cooling climate there will be a concommitant reduction in moisture available.

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Figure 5: Spring Wheat Futures

The reaction of the wheat market has been a 50% increase in price over two weeks. That has geopolitical implications, as shown by the following graphs.

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Figure 6: Percentage of personal budget spent on food

This is a graphic made in 2010 using data from 2009. At 6.9…