The Amazon basin has been subjected to unprecedented rates of land-use change over the past several decades, primarily as a result of the expansion of agriculture. Enhanced rain forest conservation efforts toward the end of the twentieth century slowed deforestation of the Amazon but, in turn, increased demand for land repurposing in the adjacent Cerrado (savanna) region, where conservation regulations are less strict. To maintain or increase yields while minimizing the need for additional land, agricultural producers adopted a form of intensification in which two rain-fed crops are planted within a single growing season (double cropping). Using 10 years (August 2002 to July 2012) of MODIS and TRMM data, it is demonstrated that there exists a threshold growing season rainfall amount (1759 mm) for double cropping. But more nuanced is the relationship between observable precipitation information available to farmers at the time of planting decision and the choice to “double crop” in a given year. An evaluation of decision-available precipitation characteristics provides strong evidence for the importance of high rainfall frequency during a critical period prior to, and including, the rainy season onset.

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Copyright © 2017, American Meteorological Society. This article first appeared in Weather Climate and Society 9:2 (2017), 201-213.

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