Reconstructing crop yield variability in Finland: Long-term perspective of the cultivation history on the agricultural periphery since ad 760

Huhtamaa, Heli; Helama, Samuli (2017). Reconstructing crop yield variability in Finland: Long-term perspective of the cultivation history on the agricultural periphery since ad 760. Holocene, 27(1), pp. 3-11. Sage 10.1177/0959683616646188

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Lack of documentation on past harvest fluctuations limits the exploration of long-term trends in crop production and agricultural adaptation strategies. A long-term perspective is needed, however, to understand the wide spectrum of potential human responses to environment and climate change. Therefore, we used tree-ring density series as proxy data to reconstruct climate-mediated yield ratio (harvested grain in relation to sown) in central and northern Finland over the period ad 760–2000. The reconstruction explains 50% of the variance in recorded yield ratio variability over the calibration period (ad 1866–1921). The reconstruction illustrated several intervals of increased and reduced yield ratio over the past 13 centuries. The long-term development of the agricultural prerequisites is characterized by distinct intervals defined statistically as ad 760–1106 (highest yield ratios), 1107–1451, 1452–1694, 1695–1911 (lowest yield ratios) and 1912 onwards. The results provide insight into the establishment and development of crop cultivation in the agricultural margin. The reconstruction suggests that continuous crop cultivation was established in the study region during a favourable period of climatic conditions supporting high yields. Thereafter, the climate-mediated yield ratio declined in the long run until the turn of the 20th century. Periods of agricultural transformations, those previously demonstrated in pollen data and historical documents, followed the onsets of the low yield ratio phases indicated by our reconstruction. Thus, we suggest that ever since the establishment of crop cultivation, climate can be considered as an important factor contributing to the development of the agricultural history in the north.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Huhtamaa, Heli Maaria


900 History








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

15 May 2017 13:00

Last Modified:

30 Mar 2022 08:13

Publisher DOI:





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