Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET) Aids Crop Decisions

Enhance Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Producers
Research Year: 
2006
Issue: 

Properly tailored weather information can assist with important management decisions related to variety selection, planting dates, crop assessment, pest control, irrigation and harvest. The Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET) was developed in 1987 to provide weather data and information in near real time to the state's producers of agricultural and horticultural crops.

Description of Action: 

he AZMET network of 28 automated weather stations located across Arizona supplies meteorological data from important agricultural production areas and selected urban locations. Data obtained by the stations are transferred to a Tucson-based data processing center nightly, where computers process the data into a variety of informational formats to assist in decision making. AZMET data and reports are available to the public free of charge via three Web pages.

AZMET data provide reliable information on heat unit accumulation, used to monitor general crop development, to time planting and harvest dates for melons, sweet corn and other horticultural crops, and to predict pest development. For example, the AZMET Southeast Arizona Crop Water Use Advisory provides corn, forage, chile and nut growers in Cochise and Graham Counties information on weather, water requirements and crop development. For cotton, AZMET generates weekly updates on heat unit accumulation, crop water use and current and projected weather conditions. The updates are distributed to nearly 500 growers each week as part of the Cotton Advisory Program. AZMET also provides daily updates on heat stress, which can significantly reduce cotton fruit retention and yield.

AZMET data on evapotranspiration (ET) are used to estimate the water use of vegetation, including field crops and turf. AZMET generates daily turf water use reports for the Phoenix area and distributes this information to the public via a turf water management web page, email and an automated fax transfer system. Twenty large turf facilities (with more than 10 acres in turf, mostly golf courses and parks) receive this information via email or fax daily. AZMET also generates a lawn watering guide published daily in major newspapers in the Phoenix metropolitan area. AZMET's turf water management program includes weather stations in the low desert, and also in Flagstaff, Prescott and Payson. A Web site offers information on landscape irrigation to residents of northern Arizona. AZMET provides reference ET data to the Bureau of Reclamation for use in the Lower Colorado River Accounting System (LCRAS). LCRAS represents a new and improved means of assessing water use along this portion of the Colorado River.

Impact: 

AZMET is now widely accepted as an important (and often the only) source of meteorological information pertaining to the production of agricultural and horticultural crops in Arizona. Use of AZMET information continues at a high rate; users accessed AZMET web pages in excess of 600,000 times in 2006, which is close to double the number accessed in 2005. In conjunction with personnel affiliated with the Ft. Mohave Indian Reservation, AZMET ET information is now used to schedule irrigations on more than 20,000 acres of cotton and alfalfa in western Arizona. The turf web page was accessed in excess of 27,000 times in 2006.

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council; Arizona Grain Research & Promotion Council; Arizona Department of Water Resources; City of Phoenix; United States Bureau of Reclamation; Golf and Environmental Foundation of Arizona; station sponsors: irrigation districts, NRCDs, power districts, commodity organizations, etc.

Conact Name: 
Paul W. Brown
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

429 Shantz Bldg #38

Tucson, AZ 85721

Tel: 520-621-1319, FAX: 520-621-9796