Policy makers, government planners and agricultural market participants in Pakistan require accurate and timely information about wheat yield and production. Punjab Province is by far the most important wheat producing region in the country. The manual collection of field data and data processing for crop forecasting by the provincial government requires significant amounts of time before official reports can be released. Several studies have shown that wheat yield can be effectively forecast using satellite remote sensing data. In this study, we developed a methodology for estimating wheat yield and area for Punjab Province from freely available Landsat and MODIS satellite imagery approximately six weeks before harvest. Wheat yield was derived by regressing reported yield values against time series of four different peak-season MODIS-derived vegetation indices. We also tested deriving wheat area from the same MODIS time series using a regression-tree approach. Among the four evaluated indices, WDRVI provided more consistent and accurate yield forecasts compared to NDVI, EVI2 and saturation-adjusted normalized difference vegetation index (SANDVI). The lowest RMSE values at the district level for forecast versus reported yield were found when using six or more years of training data. Forecast yield for the 2007/2008 to 2012/2013 growing seasons were within 0.2% and 11.5% of final reported values. Absolute deviations of wheat area and production forecasts from reported values were slightly greater compared to using the previous year's or the three- or six-year moving average values, implying that 250-m MODIS data does not provide sufficient spatial resolution for providing improved wheat area and production forecasts.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited