ABSTRACT: To facilitate marketing and export, the Australian macadamia industry requires accurate crop forecasts. Each year, two levels of crop predictions are produced for this industry. The first is an overall longer-term forecast based on tree census data of growers in the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS). This data set currently accounts for around 70% of total production, and is supplemented by our best estimates of non-AMS orchards. Given these total tree numbers, average yields per tree are needed to complete the long-term forecasts. Yields from regional variety trials were initially used, but were found to be consistently higher than the average yields that growers were obtaining. Hence, a statistical model was developed using growers’ historical yields, also taken from the AMS database. This model accounted for the effects of tree age, variety, year, region and tree spacing, and explained 65% of the total variation in the yield per tree data. The second level of crop prediction is an annual climate adjustment of these overall long-term estimates, taking into account the expected effects on production of the previous year’s climate. This adjustment is based on relative historical yields, measured as the percentage deviance between expected and actual production. The dominant climatic variables are observed temperature, evaporation, solar radiation and modelled water stress. Initially, a number of alternate statistical models showed good agreement within the historical data, with jack-knife cross-validation R2 values of 96% or better. However, forecasts varied quite widely between these alternate models. Exploratory multivariate analyses and nearest-neighbour methods were used to investigate these differences. For 2001–2003, the overall forecasts were in the right direction (when compared with the long-term expected values), but were over-estimates. In 2004 the forecast was well under the observed production, and in 2005 the revised models produced a forecast within 5.1% of the actual production. Over the first five years of forecasting, the absolute deviance for the climate-adjustment models averaged 10.1%, just outside the targeted objective of 10%.
Agricultural Systems 02/2006; · 2.90 Impact Factor