Reducing risk with multiple very-short-lifespan crops
I once met a fellow who'd taken up lettuce farming in New Mexico. He gave it up, though, when a 20-minute hailstorm destroyed his $30,000 crop. When was the last time you ever heard the words "crop failure"? Well, it happens, whatever they call it now. On a bus in Saskatchewan I talked with an elderly farmer who confirmed that locusts do exactly what you've heard they do: arrive in immense swarms and eat everything. And somewhere in Brazil, I saw a canefield that looked fine except for the big purple flowers. The flowers themselves looked fine too, but if you've let your sugarcane crop advance to that stage, sucrose concentration will have already dropped. The crop hadn't "failed," but for some reason - a labor shortage is my wild guess - it was unharvestable at peak profitability, and that is about as bad.
So here's the idea: instead of raising one crop over, say, a five-month period, raise five crops, each on one-fifth of your land, over one-month periods. In a disaster-free year, say your yield is 100 units, whichever way you do it. If you grow the five-month crop and there's a disaster anywhere in those five months, your yield is zero. If you're growing the one-month crops, you lose only 20 units should a disaster happen in one month. So which makes more sense, risk-wise? (I'm not yet talking about botany-wise.) Note that by "disaster" I mean something fairly quick, like a hailstorm, or a drought the same week your maize tassels.
Set the chance of such a disaster for each of the five months:and then