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CR 65:7-21 (2015)  -  DOI:

Monthly-to-seasonal predictions of durum wheat yield over the Mediterranean Basin

Roberto Ferrise1,*, Piero Toscano2, Massimiliano Pasqui3, Marco Moriondo2, Jacopo Primicerio3, Mikhail A. Semenov4, Marco Bindi1,5

1Department of Agri-food Production and Environmental Sciences (DISPAA), University of Florence, Florence, Italy
2Institute of Biometeorology (IBIMET), CNR Firenze, Florence, Italy
3Institute of Biometeorology (IBIMET), CNR Roma, Rome, Italy
4Computational and Systems Biology Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK
5Research Unit ‘Climate chAnge SyStem and Ecosystem’ (CLASSE), University of Florence, Florence, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Uncertainty in weather conditions for the forthcoming growing season influences farmers’ decisions, based on their experience of the past climate, regarding the reduction of agricultural risk. Early within-season predictions of grain yield can represent a great opportunity for farmers to improve their management decisions and potentially increase yield and reduce potential risk. This study assessed 3 methods of within-season predictions of durum wheat yield at 10 sites across the Mediterranean Basin. To assess the value of within-season predictions, the model SiriusQuality2 was used to calculate wheat yields over a 9 yr period. Initially, the model was run with observed daily weather to obtain the reference yields. Then, yield predictions were calculated at a monthly time step, starting from 6 mo before harvest, by feeding the model with observed weather from the beginning of the growing season until a specific date and then with synthetic weather constructed using the 3 methods, historical, analogue or empirical, until the end of the growing season. The results showed that it is possible to predict durum wheat yield over the Mediterranean Basin with an accuracy of normalized root means squared error of <20%, from 5 to 6 mo earlier for the historical and empirical methods and 3 mo earlier for the analogue method. Overall, the historical method performed better than the others. Nonetheless, the analogue and empirical methods provided better estimations for low-yielding and high-yielding years, thus indicating great potential to provide more accurate predictions for years that deviate from average conditions.

KEY WORDS: Yield predictions · Seasonal forecasts · Analogue forecasts · Stochastic weather generator · Empirical forecasting models · Durum wheat · Crop modelling · Mediterranean Basin

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Cite this article as: Ferrise R, Toscano P, Pasqui M, Moriondo M, Primicerio J, Semenov MA, Bindi M (2015) Monthly-to-seasonal predictions of durum wheat yield over the Mediterranean Basin. Clim Res 65:7-21.

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