Crop Yield: Definition & Consequences
There are a few reasons why understanding crop yield is so important. First, as we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of mouths to feed on our planet and there's a finite amount of land to grow food on. Being able to estimate crop yield allows us to understand food security, the ability to produce enough food to meet human needs in the foreseeable future.
Second, each crop has an estimate of what its yield will be, called a potential yield. Individual farmers can compare their crop yields to this potential yield to see how well they are competing. The difference between their output and the potential yield is called a yield gap, and a farmer's goal is to exceed the potential yield for the lowest price.
Why do farmers care about achieving the potential yield? Well, farmers' incomes are based upon the amount of food they produce. They don't get paid by the hour like some of us! Thus, if a farmer's crop yield is high, he (or she) is making more money! A farmer is always balancing the price of growing crops with the expected yield so that he makes as much money as possible.
Finally, we care about crop yields because they directly affect how much money we pay for groceries. If crop yields for strawberries are high one season, there will be a lot of strawberries for sale, so the price will generally be lower. If, however, conditions cause a dramatic decrease in the strawberry crop yield the following year, there will be fewer strawberries for sale, and they will be priced much higher. Additionally, if a crop has many years of low crop yield, farmers may switch to growing something else, causing a long-term decrease in availability and higher prices.
Advances in Crop Science and Technology Journal