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Journal Article

Yield trends, variability and stagnation analysis of major crops in France over more than a century


Schauberger,  Bernhard
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Ben-Ari,  T.
External Organizations;

Makowski,  D.
External Organizations;

Kato,  T.
External Organizations;

Kato,  H.
External Organizations;

Ciais,  P.
External Organizations;

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Schauberger, B., Ben-Ari, T., Makowski, D., Kato, T., Kato, H., Ciais, P. (2018): Yield trends, variability and stagnation analysis of major crops in France over more than a century. - Scientific Reports, 8, 16865.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_22748
France is a major crop producer, with a production share of approx. 20% within the European Union. Yet, a discussion has recently started whether French yields are stagnating. While for wheat previous results are unanimously pointing to recent stagnation, there is contradictory evidence for maize and few to no results for other crops. Here we analyse a data set with more than 120,000 yield observations from 1900 to 2016 for ten crops (barley, durum and soft wheat, maize, oats, potatoes, rapeseed, sugar beet, sunflower and wine) in the 96 mainland French départements (NUTS3 administrative division). We dissect the evolution of yield trends over time and space, analyse yield variation and evaluate whether growth of yields has stalled in recent years. Yields have, on average across crops, multiplied four-fold over the course of the 20th century. While absolute yield variability has increased, the variation relative to the mean has halved – mean yields have increased faster than their variability. But growth of yields has stagnated since the 1990’s for winter wheat, barley, oats, durum wheat, sunflower and wine on at least 25% of their areas. Reaching yield potentials is unlikely as a cause for stagnation. Maize, in contrast, shows no evidence for stagnation.