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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Cereal Grain Yield: Biblical Aspirations and Modern Experience in the Middle East


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 86 No. 2, p. 362-364
    Received: May 28, 1993

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. J. Amir and
  2. T. R. Sinclair 
  1. A gric. Res. Organization, Gilat Exp. Stn., M.P. Negev 85280, Israel;
    A RS-USDA, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0840.



Very little information exists on crop yields in antiquity. Examination of some of the earliest yield records may give some insight about crop productivity among ancient peoples and a historical perspective on the progress achieved in modern agronomic practices. The Book of Genesis contains one of the earliest recorded expressions of a concern for the yielding potential of cultivated crops. In this paper, we translate the ambiguous biblical reference to crop yield into a modern expression of crop yield per unit land area. Because the yield aspirations of these ancient people are equivalent to modern yields achieved under rainfed conditions at the same location, we undertook an analysis of the agronomic practices used by these ancient people to determine the likelihood that such yields could be achieved. In fact, it appears possible that maximum cereal yields in the ancient Middle East could have approximated modern yields. This analysis may highlight the great advances in modern agriculture to bring high crop yields to large land areas by overcoming various stresses, but the inherent physiological yielding potential may not have been substantially altered over the millennia.

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