Association of Agrometeorologists

Assessing impact of weather variability and changing climate on oil-palm yield in major growing regions of southern Thailand


Oil palm yield is very responsive to weather fluctuations in the growing season. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between yield variation and climate trends in the major oil palm-growing regions, especially in Southern Thailand (Chumphon; CP, Ranong; RN, Krabi; KB, Trang; TR, Satun; ST, Phang-Nga; PN, SuratThani; SR and Nakhon Si Thammarat; NS) where oil palm has been grown in a large plantation. Monthly weather variables from 16 agricultural meteorological stations were analyzed by linear and non-linear regressions over 28 years in each major oil palm-producing region. To evaluate the trends of changes in weather parameters and yield, a statistical model was developed for estimating oil palm yield based on climatic trends during 1994-2017. The results showed that warming trends were observed at all major oil palm-growing regions. There were pieces of evidence of significant correlation in temperature trends which had the strongest values in KB (Tmax, R2=0.534**) and PN (Tmin, R2=0.670**). The highest trends of ET and RH were also markedly increased in SR (R2=0.618**). Whereas precipitation trend had slightly increasing changes in CP (R2=0.220**) and PN (R2=0.233**). In addition, the annual trends in the values of Heliothermal Index, Dryness Index and Cool Night Index were markedly increased in NS, RN and KB, respectively. Comparing climate variables and yield variations over 19 years, the study indicated that the relationships between observed yield and estimated yield had highly significant differences in CP (R2=0.468**), SR (R2=0.735***) and NS (R2=0.579***), but there was lower value in KB (R2=0.098*) than those of the other regions. Therefore, this study indicates that recent climate trends have had an implicit effect on oil palm yield in the major producing regions in Southern Thailand. This study could be a guideline to further planning for oil palm management. 

Yield variation, plant climate model, phenotypic plasticity, phenology