Letter | Published:

Meteorology and Wheat Shortage

Naturevolume 98page369 (1917) | Download Citation



IN looking through some old papers I came across one entitled “The Law of Sequence in the Yield of Wheat for Eastern England for 1885—1904,” contributed by Sir Napier Shaw to the Hann Band der meteorologischen Zeitschrift, 1906, pp. 208—16 (Brunswick: Fried. Vieweg und Sohn, 1906). From a study of the rainfall and its connection with the amount of the harvest, Sir Napier Shaw applied the method of harmonic analysis to the quantity in question, and obtained a formula according to which its fluctuations are periodic, the period being eleven years. In Fig. 42 (p. 212) curves are shown in which the agreement between the calculated and observed results is very close. It now becomes interesting in the light of recent events to extend Sir Napier Shaw's predictions for a further period of eleven years, with the following results, the numbers representing average yield in bushels per acre:—The highest maximum of about 35.5 should have occurred in 1909–10, followed by a minimum of about 29.5 in 1911–12. The predicted yield next rises to about 32.5 in 1912–13, and then decreases, the lowest minimum being about 27.0 bushels per acre and occurring at the beginning of the war, in 1914–15. From now on the predicted yield should increase, but would not reach its former maximum of 35.5 until 1920–21. For the period 1915–17 the predicted yield is not much more than 29 bushels per acre. It will be seen, therefore, that, according to theory, it was to be expected, both here and abroad, that England's wheat supply, so far as it depends on the eastern counties, would be at its lowest at and about the present time.

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