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SEASONAL climate forecasts can now predict climate with significant skill and lead times in the major cane growing regions of Australia. However, despite these meteorological advancements relatively little research has examined the ‘on-the-ground’ economic impact of these forecasts. This lack of quantitative knowledge creates an atmosphere of uncertainty about whether canegrowers should alter their behaviour in response to the forecast. To address this issue, we developed an agronomic-economic modelof the average cane farmin the Herbert River District to determine the economic value of scheduling the annual harvest start date based onseasonal climate forecasts. Results indicate that the value of seasonal forecasts when used in this manner is modest with respect to the farmer’s annual profits. The central limiting factor appearsto be the reasonably high degree of climatic variability that can still occur within each climate phase predicted by the forecast.The forecast value is also dependent on soil type and therefore likely to be highly variable spatially. This highlights the need to better understand how the forecast would be communicated and changes implemented within the context of the harvest scheduling framework and other farm management decisions.

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