Drought and corn in Kentucky

Kortney E. Craft, Rezaul Mahmood, Stephen A. King, Gregory Goodrich, Jun Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Accurate documentation and analysis of historical data can play an important role in effective decision-making and mitigation of drought impacts. Drought has been recorded in Kentucky since the late 1800s and data on corn prices and corn yield in Kentucky have been recorded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) since the late 1920s. Yet, there is no known single long-range historical study that documents both drought and its impacts on corn production in the state. Corn is one of the most important agricultural crops in Kentucky and drought can have a significant impact on this crop. Proper documentation of drought impacts will help identify drought vulnerabilities and result in improved risk management and mitigation. The purpose of this research is to document and describe the history of drought in Kentucky and its impact on corn production. Furthermore, the study assessed relationships between drought episodes and the price of corn and revenue from corn production by climate divisions. Historically, the most significant drought years in Kentucky were 1930-31, 1940-42, and 1952-55, and more recently were 1987-88, 1999-2000, and 2007. The results of this study provide a historical account of how corn yield, production, and prices deviated from decadal averages during these significant drought years. The study found up to 47% reduction in revenue from corn during episodes of severe drought in Kentucky. It is concluded that this study provides a clearer understanding of drought impacts on Kentucky corn production and thus improves our ability to address and potentially reduce such impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-362
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Corn
  • Drought
  • Impact assessment
  • Kentucky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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