Introduction

Corn production is the principal source of family income for about 24 million Filipinos. Isabela Province, located in one of the most depressed regions in northern Philippines, is considered the top corn-producing province in the country contributing 17% or 536353 tons of the total yellow corn production in the country. Corn is grown rainfed in Isabela. Monocropping of corn is predominantly practiced in Isabela and there are two cropping seasons per year - wet season cropping from May to August and dry season cropping from November to February. In 2003, a total of 146965 hectares were planted to yellow corn in the province. In the same year, average yield of yellow corn was 3.65 tons per hectare (t ha-1) which was comparatively higher than the national yellow corn yield average of 3.03 t ha-1. Most of the corn type being produced in the province is yellow corn which comprised 95% of the total corn produced in the province (Lansigan et al. 2001). Yellow corn is primarily used as animal feed ingredient especially for poultry and swine.

Climate in the agricultural region of Isabela has historically no pronounced dry or wet seasons - relatively dry in the first half of the year and wet during the second half. Average rainfall is 1844 mm per year, mean temperature is 29 °C and mean relative humidity is 66%. In general, the climate in the vast plains of Isabela is suitable to corn production. However, in 1998, drought devastated 110 996 hectares of corn field in Isabela incurring a production loss of about 219 000 metric tons of corn (BAS 2001). The Philippines is visited by an average of 20 typhoons per year from 1948 to 2000 (PAGASA 2001). The months of July, August, and September have the most frequent typhoon occurrence in the country (Kintanar 1984). Experts have observed that typhoon development in the Philippines has been erratic and almost unpredictable with strongly varying movement and structure (Tacio 2000).

In recent years, improvements in our understanding of the interactions between the atmosphere and its underlying sea and land surfaces, advances in modeling the global climate system, and the substantial investment in monitoring the tropical oceans helped provide a degree of predictability of climate fluctuations at a seasonal lead time in many parts of the world (Hansen 2002). This has allowed critical agricultural decisions to be made in crop production to minimize negative impacts of, or maximize the benefits from the expected climatic conditions (Gadgil et al. 2002). Thus, this chapter seeks to examine the agronomic and economic impacts of advanced climate information on corn production systems in Isabela Province, Philippines as affected by planting date decision.

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