Seasonal climate models for national wheat yield forecasts in Brazil

Maximilian Zachow, Rogério de S. Nóia Júnior, Senthold Asseng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

National wheat yield depends on climate conditions and usually remains unknown until harvest. In-season knowledge can be provided by wheat yield forecast systems, supporting the decision-making of farmers, food traders, or policymakers. In this study, we improved a previously developed statistical wheat yield model to forecast trend-corrected wheat yield in Brazil with monthly temperature and precipitation data from seasonal climate models (SCM) from the last three months before harvest. We chose SCM from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), and the UK-based Met-Office (UKMO). A multi-model ensembles (MME) approach from the three individual models as well as a climatology (CLIMATE) approach were also tested. Wheat yield forecasts were issued at the beginning of each month from planting in April to harvest in November. Each month, features from future months are forecasted by SCM, and past features are supplemented with observations from weather stations. Our approach shows a 12% RMSE in forecasting yield early in the season, from April to June. Forecasts start to improve from July onwards, with shorter lead times and including observed features from September onwards. At the beginning of October, about two months before harvest is completed, wheat yield can be forecasted with 7.6%, 7.9%, 7.9%, 9.1%, and 9.3% RMSE using climate data from UKMO, ECMWF, MME, NCEP, and CLIMATE respectively. Seasonal climate models can be useful tools to forecast national wheat yield, even shortly before harvest to prepare for possible food shortages. Our approach could be applied to other staple crops and regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109753
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Volume342
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Multi-model ensembles
  • Regression model
  • Seasonal climate forecasts
  • Yield forecast
  • Yield variability

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