New approach offers more accurate end-of-season yield forecasts earlier in the season

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In Illinois, researchers at the University of Illinois developed a new method to report forecasts of end-of-season yield that outperforms the real-time farmer surveys and analysis from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The study evaluated end-of-season accuracy of individual and combined data sources as compared with the national maize yield forecast in the monthly USDA WASDE reports. “Compared with using historical climate information for the unknown future, which is what most previous research is based on, using seasonal climate prediction from the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction gave better forecasting performance, especially in reducing the uncertainties,” says Bin Peng, the lead author of this study and postdoctoral research associate in NRES and NCSA.

The new approach allows more accurate end-of-season predictions to be made earlier in the season. At the end of the growing season, farmers can look back and evaluate the accuracy of each previous month’s prediction.