Do farmers rapidly adapt to past growing conditions by sowing different proportions of early and late maturing cereals and cultivars?
In the short growing season of the northernmost European growing conditions, farmers are increasingly interested in expanding cultivation of later maturing crops at the expense of early maturing ones with lower yields. In this study we aimed to assess how the switching between spring cereals that differ in earliness was associated with different external factors. This was tested using unique datasets for regional cropping areas and cultivar use for the last 15 years. Early maturing barley was favored at the expense of later maturing wheat when a high number of days to crop maturity was required in the preceding year. In contrast, farmers reduced the barley area when a high number of cumulated degree days was required for a crop to mature in the previous year. A shift was recorded from early to late maturing cultivars. This study indicated that despite limited opportunities for farmers to alter land use, they readily responded to past conditions and used the knowledge gained for decision-making to reduce risk. This is a valuable operative model for studying adaptation to opportunities and constraints induced by climate change.