The weather is the largest uncontrolled variable, as well as the most unpredictable variable, in the production of agricultural products. Agricultural production is based on the growth of plants, and those plants require an optimum environment for maximum production. However, maximum production is seldom realized in the natural environment because the weather seldom matches the needs of plants. Whenever the real environment is significantly different from the optimum, plants are stressed, and production is reduced. The major limiting factor is water. An understanding of the mechanisms of the weather will improve the decision-making process for activities such as cutting hay, irrigating, harvesting, and tillage. Better decisions mean increased productivity for any agricultural enterprise. This chapter will discuss the pressure systems that influence the weather, the hydrologic cycle, and a few of the characteristics of rainfall and runoff.
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