Progress Timeline  |  Catching Up  |  Reaching Out  |  Researcher Spotlight
Greetings from the Project Director


Dear Friends,


It's with great excitement that I announce the release of our two newest decision support resources!


AgClimate ViewDST - Your source for historical climate and crop yield data in the Corn Belt


Growing Degree DayDST - Helping you track real-time GDD accumulations and assess climate risks for corn development


We encourage you to visit the tools and share them with others - and please let us know if there are any enhancements you'd like to see as we refine them over the next year. Download our DST Fact Sheet for more information. 


I also want to take this opportunity to thank the U2U team for their dedicated effort on the tools, and I thank all of the farmers and advisors who provided critical feedback during the development process. Additional decision tools are now in the works, so please visit AgClimate4U.org and watch for updates in future newsletters.




Dr. Linda Stalker Prokopy, U2U Project Director

Progress Timeline


Quarterly Progress Report

Fall 2013 kicked-off the start of U2U decision tool outreach and training, two tasks that will continue throughout the duration of the project. See the Catching Up section below for more details.


An updated U2U Executive Summary, including information about our two new decision support resources, is now available.


Our progress timeline is a great way to stay up-to-date on upcoming project milestones. Click on the graphic to view a full-size PDF

Catching Up


Meetings with Ag Advisors

The U2U Social Science Team hosted four focus groups with agricultural advisors in Nebraska (Sept 2013) and Indiana (Dec 2013) to gather critical feedback on our new decision support resources and potential new tools slated for development in 2014. 

Reaching Out



Decision Support Tool Outreach

Decision support tool training and outreach sessions were held at the following events:

46th Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 

Several U2U team members attended the 46th Annual AGU Fall Meeting Dec 9-12, 2013 in San Francisco, CA. They presented results from our crop and climate modeling research that focused on the impact of climate variability and change on corn production in the Midwestern U.S. 


Article in Weather, Climate, and Society

Mase, A.S., and L.S. Prokopy. In Press. "Unrealized potential: A review of perceptions and use of weather and climate information in agricultural decision making." Weather, Climate, and Society



This article reviews research on agricultural decision makers' use and perceptions of weather and climate information and decision support tools (DSTs), conducted in the United States, Australia, and Canada over the past 30 years. Forty seven relevant articles, with locations as diverse as Australian rangelands and the Southeastern U.S., ranging in focus from corn to cattle, were identified. NVivo 9 software wasused to code research methods, type of climate information explored, barriers to broader use of weather information, common themes, and conclusions from each article. Themes in this literature include the role of trusted agricultural advisors in the use of weather information, farmers' management of weather risks, and potential agricultural adaptations that could increase resilience to weather and climate variability. While use of weather and climate information and DSTs for agriculture has increased in developed countries, these resources are still underutilized. Reasons for low use and reduced usefulness highlighted in this literature are: perceptions of low forecast accuracy, forecasts presented out of context reducing farmers' ability to apply them, short forecast lead times, inflexible management and operations that limit the adaptability of a farm, and greater concern with non-weather risks (such as regulation or market fluctuation)... Early online release.


Article in Earth Interactions  

Takle, E.S., C.J. Anderson, J. Andresen, J. Angel, R. Elmore, B.M. Gramig, P. Guinan, S. Hilberg, D. Kluck, R. Massey, D. Niyogi, J. Schneider, M. Shulski, D. Todey, and M. Widhalm. In Press. "Climate Forecasts for Corn Producer Decision-Making." Earth Interactions 



Corn is the most widely grown crop in the Americas, with annual production in the US of approximately 332 million metric tons. Improved climate forecasts, together with climate-related decision-tools for corn producers based on these improved forecasts, could substantially reduce uncertainty and increase profitability for corn producers. The purpose of this paper is to acquaint climate information developers, climate information users, and climate researchers with an overview of weather conditions throughout the year that affect corn production as well as forecast content and timing needed by producers. We provide a graphic depicting the climate-informed decision cycle, which we call the climate-forecast decision cycle calendar for corn. Early online release.


Article in Journal of Forestry

Carlton, J.S., Angel, J.R., Fei, S., Huber, M., Koontz, T., MacGowan, B.J., Mullendore, N.D., Babin, N., and L.S. Prokopy. In Press. "State service foresters' attitudes toward using climate and weather information when advising forest landowners." Journal of Forestry.  



Climate change threatens the health of global forests. Integrating climate information into forest management can help with climate change adaptation but doing so requires extensive engagement between scientists, practitioners, and decisionmakers. Forestry advisors are an important source of forest management information for many private landowners. However, little is known about forestry advisors' attitudes toward using and delivering climate and weather information. We surveyed state service foresters in the midwestern United States to assess their information needs and attitudes

toward incorporating climate and weather forecasts into their practices. Most respondents (70%) indicated that they could find the short-term weather information they needed to advise landowners. Only 26% indicated that they could find the long-term climate information they needed. A majority of respondents indicated they would be interested in receiving long-term climate information. Results suggest that service foresters are open to using climate forecasts and information. Work needs to be done to ensure that the information presented is valuable to and usable by foresters. Early online release.

Researcher Spotlight

Two key partners on the U2U project are researchers Dr. Cody Knutson and Tonya Haigh with the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC). They have assisted in conducting surveys of farmers and advisors across the Midwest, led stakeholder focus groups in Nebraska, and will assist in evaluating U2U informational products. 


Dr. Knutson is a Research Associate Professor and leader of the NDMC Planning and Social ScienceProgram. With a background in social science and water resources, his work focuses on understanding how people and systems are vulnerable to drought and collaboratively developing strategies, tools, and plans to minimize their drought risk. Along with his seven siblings, Cody grew up on a farm/ranch in western South Dakota, where his family raised cattle and wheat. Since 2011, he has worked remotely from Rapid City, SD, where he lives with his wife and two young sons. He spends much of his off-time chauffeuring his kids to school, sporting and Cub Scout events. Otherwise, he can usually be found hiking, fly fishing and exploring with his family in the beautiful Black Hills area.


Tonya Haigh is a Rural Sociologist with the NDMC. She works with ranchers to identify effective drought planning strategies, organizes educational outreach workshops and webinars for producers and range advisors, and provides survey development and analysis support. Tonya is currently completing a certificate program in survey research methodology. Prior to joining the NDMC, Tonya worked for South Dakota/North Dakota agricultural organizations as a program director, community organizer, and grant writer. She lives in Lincoln with her husband, a teenager, a pre-teenager, and a cat, all of whom (except for the cat) enjoy traveling, cross-country skiing, biking, Harry Potter, and Sherlock.


Founded in 1995 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the NDMC works with a variety of stakeholders to reduce drought vulnerability and improve management. For the latest information on drought risk management you can access the National Drought Mitigation Center website at http://drought.unl.edu or follow the NDMC on Twitter @DroughtCenter.


AgriClimate Connection Blog


News and views from the Corn Belt

AgriClimate Connection is an interactive blog where farmers and scientists across the Corn Belt can learn about and discuss cutting-edge farm management strategies, weather and climate conditions and much more. It is jointly-managed by SustainableCorn.org and U2U


Scientists Team Up to Keep Nitrates on Fields

Posted on 12/11/2013 by Lynn Laws

Keeping nitrogen fertilizer on farm fields, to support optimum crop growth, and out of streams and rivers is no simple formula. It's complex... Read more


Revised Corn Field-Guide Reduces Uncertainty

Posted on 11/27/2013 by Lynn Laws

Identifying pests, diseases, disorders and developmental stages in Midwestern corn crops just became easier. New and larger color photographs, updated information on plant diseases and crop production, and... Read more


Missouri 2013 Growing Season Climate Summary

Posted on 11/15/2013 by Pat Guinan

The 2013 growing season was dominated by anomalous weather conditions for much of the spring and summer, and made it another challenging year for Missouri farmers. Agricultural conditions only began to improve toward the end of the growing season with... Read more


Be sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest updates.  

Climate Quiz

December Climate Quiz

Question #1: According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), 2012 ranked as the second costliest year for natural disasters since 1980. The cost of the 2012 Drought that plagued the Corn Belt and other parts of the county has been estimated at: 

Source: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) Billion Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters
Upcoming Events

2013 Indiana Certified Crop Advisor Conference

December 17-18, 2013 | Indianapolis, IN

Chad Hart and Linda Prokopy will be demonstrating U2U tools and products at the 2013 Indiana CCA Conference on December 18, 2013. Walk-in registrations are welcome. The full conference program is available online


2013 MU Crop Management Conference

December 17-18, 2013 | Columbia, MO

Ray Massey and Pat Guinan will be demonstrating U2U tools and products at the 2013 MU Crop Management Conference on December 17, 2013. Conference program available online


6th Annual Crop Production Clinics

January 7-23, 2014 | Nebraska (9 events) 

Tapan Pathak, Extension educator in climate variability at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will demonstrate new U2U decision tools and products at Crop Production Clinics (CPC) across Nebraska throughout January 2014. CPC dates, locations, and registration information are available online

U2U Team Photo  
U2U Team


About Us: 

Useful to Usable (U2U) is a multi-institution research and extension project focused on improving the resilience and profitability of farms in the North Central U.S. amid a more variable and changing climate. Through the development and dissemination of decision support tools, resource materials and training, we strive to transform existing climate information into actionable knowledge for more effective decision making. 

CONTACT US:   Melissa Widhalm, Project Manager                                     Click here to join our mailing list. 

This project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68002-30220 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.