Impacts of El Niño Southern Oscillation on the global yields of major crops

Toshichika Iizumi*, Jing Jia Luo, Andrew J. Challinor, Gen Sakurai, Masayuki Yokozawa, Hirofumi Sakuma, Molly E. Brown, Toshio Yamagata

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Citations (Scopus)


The monitoring and prediction of climate-induced variations in crop yields, production and export prices in major food-producing regions have become important to enable national governments in import-dependent countries to ensure supplies of affordable food for consumers. Although the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) often affects seasonal temperature and precipitation, and thus crop yields in many regions, the overall impacts of ENSO on global yields are uncertain. Here we present a global map of the impacts of ENSO on the yields of major crops and quantify its impacts on their global-mean yield anomalies. Results show that El Niño likely improves the global-mean soybean yield by 2.1 - 5.4% but appears to change the yields of maize, rice and wheat by -4.3 to +0.8%. The global-mean yields of all four crops during La Niña years tend to be below normal (-4.5 to 0.0%). Our findings highlight the importance of ENSO to global crop production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3712
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May 15
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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