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Testing Day's Conjecture That More Nitrogen Decreases Crop Yield Skewness

  • Du, Xiaodong
  • Hennessy, David A.
  • Yu, Cindy

While controversy surrounds skewness attributes of typical yield distributions, a better understanding is important for agricultural policy assessment and for crop-insurance rate setting. Day (1965) conjectured that crop yield skewness declines with an increase in nitrogen use at low levels but not at higher levels. Employing four corn yield experimental plot datasets, we investigate the conjecture by introducing (a) a flexible Bayesian extension of the Just–Pope technology to incorporate skewness and (b) a quantile-based measure of skewness shift. Bayesian estimation provides strong evidence in favor of negative skewness at commercial nitrogen rates and for Day’s conjecture. There was weaker evidence in favor of positively skewed cotton yield and little evidence in favor of the conjecture. The results are confirmed by the quantile-based measure. We also find evidence that skewness becomes more negative upon moving from corn-after-corn to corn-after-soybean.

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File URL: http://www.econ.iastate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/papers/p15022-2012-03-29.pdf
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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 35022.

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Date of creation: 29 Mar 2012
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Publication status: Published in American Journal of Agricultural Economics, January 2012, vol. 94 no. 1, pp. 225-237
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:35022
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Richard E. Just & Quinn Weninger, 1999. "Are Crop Yields Normally Distributed?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(2), pages 287-304.
  2. Just, Richard E. & Pope, Rulon D., 1978. "Stochastic specification of production functions and economic implications," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 67-86, February.
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  6. Phoebe Koundouri & Nikolaos Kourogenis, 2011. "On the Distribution of Crop Yields: Does the Central Limit Theorem Apply?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1341-1357.
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  8. Salvatore Di Falco & Jean-Paul Chavas, 2007. "On Crop Biodiversity, Risk Exposure, and Food Security in the Highlands of Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(3), pages 599-611.
  9. Tian Yu & Bruce A. Babcock, 2009. "Are U.S. Corn and Soybeans Becoming More Drought Tolerant?," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 09-wp500, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
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  15. David A. Hennessy, 2009. "Crop Yield Skewness Under Law of the Minimum Technology," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(1), pages 197-208.
  16. Seo, Sangtaek & Mitchell, Paul D. & Leatham, David J., 2005. "Effects of Federal Risk Management Programs on Optimal Acreage Allocation and Nitrogen Use in a Texas Cotton-Sorghum System," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 37(03), December.
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