Statistical analysis of the weather impact on robusta coffee yield in Vietnam

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Weather and climate strongly impact coffee; however, few studies have measured this impact on robusta coffee yield. This is because the yield record is not long enough, and/or the data are only available at a local farm level.

A data-driven approach is developed here to 1) identify how sensitive Vietnamese robusta coffee is to weather on district and provincial levels, 2) during which key moments weather is most influential for yield, and 3) how long before harvest, yield could potentially be forecasted. Robusta coffee yield time series were available from 2000 to 2018 for the Central Highlands, where 40% of global robusta coffee is produced. Multiple linear regression has been used to assess the effect of weather on coffee yield, with regularization techniques such as PCA and leave-one-out to avoid over-fitting the regression models. The data suggest that robusta coffee in Vietnam is most sensitive to two key moments: a prolonged rainy season of the previous year favoring vegetative growth, thereby increasing the potential yield (i.e., number of fruiting nodes), while low rainfall during bean formation decreases yield.

Depending on location, these moments could be used to forecast the yield anomaly with 3–6 months’ anticipation. The sensitivity of yield anomalies to weather varied substantially between provinces and even districts. In Dak Lak and some Lam Dong districts, weather explained up to 36% of the robusta coffee yield anomalies variation, while low sensitivities were identified in Dak Nong and Gia Lai districts. Our statistical model can be used as a seasonal forecasting tool for the management of coffee production. It can also be applied to climate change studies, i.e., using this statistical model in climate simulations to see the tendency of coffee in the following decades.

Dinh, T.L.A. ; Aires, F.; Rahn, E.

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