Annual winter crop distribution from MODIS NDVI timeseries to improve yield forecasts for Europe

Lorenzo Seguini*, Anton Vrieling, Michele Meroni, Andrew Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Downloads (Pure)


Crop yield forecasts allow policy makers to anticipate market behaviour and regulate prices. Annual updates on which crops are grown where can improve crop yield forecast accuracy. Existing efforts to map crops across the European Union resulted in late-season map availability or short time series that do not meet forecasting requirements. We propose a new approach to retrieve annual winter crop maps and improve forecasting efforts by identifying pixels with dominant winter crop signals using moderate resolution imagery. These pixels are distinguished from summer crop signals based on their senescence date. When this date precedes the theoretical maturity date of a winter crop, expressed in GDD, the pixel is labelled as having a dominant winter crop signal. Our 2018 map accurately identified 77% and 83% of dominantly winter-crop area, when compared to farmers’ declaration data and a high-resolution crop map for Europe, respectively. While the resulting annual winter crop maps underestimated winter crop area, derived region-specific annual NDVI profiles better described winter crop phenology as compared to the use of static maps. Regression analysis between these regional NDVI profiles and statistical wheat yield data indicates that our annual maps help explain more yield variability than static maps, with an RMSE reduction of 3% for the EU27 as whole. The proposed approach is applicable to long historical timeseries and provides maps before the end of the agricultural season. Those maps positively impact crop yield description, notably in eastern, northern, and northeastern European regions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103898
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024


  • Wheat
  • GDD
  • Phenology
  • Classification
  • Crop group
  • Crop monitoring
  • UT-Gold-D


Dive into the research topics of 'Annual winter crop distribution from MODIS NDVI timeseries to improve yield forecasts for Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this