Indian wheat yields gain but reaching limit

Wheat is a staple crop throughout much of India, but in many areas it is commonly sown past the optimum yield window. A study led by FSE associate director David Lobell uses satellite measurements to estimate a decade’s worth of sow dates in wheat-growing areas of India.

The study finds, among other developments, that wheat was sown one week earlier by 2010 than it was at the beginning of the decade, a change that explains 5% in country-wide yield gains. It also predicts that yield benefits from sow date shifts will likely diminish in the next decade.

"There's an important, one time boost farmers have gotten recently from moving into the optimum sowing window, but the data suggest this effect will run out of steam in the coming years," says Lobell.