Global Crop Forecasting

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Science  16 May 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4445, pp. 670-679
DOI: 10.1126/science.208.4445.670


Many foreign countries are as dependent on imports of food as the United States is on imports of oil. As the world's largest exporter of food, the United States needs reliable information on fluctuating foreign crop production. But available information is often inadequate and at best untimely. It is gathered by the foreign governments' often outmoded systems and its release may be delayed out of economic self-interest. Recently three U.S. government agencies put together a crop inventory system using satellite remote sensing and worldwide weather reporting and tested it in the Large Area Crop Inventory Experiment (LACIE). A 1977 real-time forecast of U.S.S.R. wheat production indicates that the approach works and may be expandable to other areas and other crops.