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An economic analysis of potential rotation crops for Maine potato cropping systems

Halloran, J.M., Griffin, T.S., Honeycutt, C.W.
American journal of potato research 2005 v.82 no.2 pp. 155
Solanum tuberosum, potatoes, crop rotation, economic analysis, farm profitability, Hordeum vulgare, barley, Zea mays, Phaseolus vulgaris, green beans, Glycine max, soybeans, Brassica napus var. napus, canola, crop yield, Monte Carlo method, risk reduction, sweetcorn, Maine
Potato cropping systems in Maine include both continuous potatoes and short-term potato rotations with small grains. Producers recognize the benefits of increased rotations, but the economics of producing a high-valued crop such as potatoes (Solanm tuberosum L.) create incentives for continuous potato production. Research at the USDA-ARS research site in Newport, ME, is evaluating the agronomic and economic impacts of five crops in two-year rotations on potato production and whole-farm profitability. The rotation crops are barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), sweet corn (Zea mays L.) green bean (Phaseolus vulgares L.), soybean (Glycine max L., Mer.), and canola (Brassica napus L.). Enterprise budgets for the five crops were developed. The budgets and historical prices and yields were used as inputs to a Monte Carlo simulation. The simulation was conducted to determine the impact of rotation crops on whole-farm profitability and income risk, as measured by income variability. The net incomes of the five rotation sequences were compared against continuous potatoes. Two rotation crops, sweet corn and green beans, resulted in an increase in net income relative to continuous potatoes. AU of the rotation crops were found to greatly reduce income risk and chance of economic losses. In the case of green beans and sweet corn, the analysis was rerun using data from the research trials on the following potato crop yields. Depending on whether the rotation effect was negative or positive, net income either fell or rose when compared to fist analysis. However, even when the rotation crop led to decreased yields in the following potato crop, income variability and likelihood of economic loss was still superior to the continuous potato rotation. These findings provide support for including rotation crops as a method to improve potato production and sustainability, increase wholefarm profitability, and reduce income risk.