Simulation of winter wheat evapotranspiration in Texas and Henan using three models of differing complexity

Shujiang Kang, William A. Payne, Steven R. Evett, Clay A. Robinson, Bobby A. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Crop evapotranspiration (ET) is an important component of simulation models with many practical applications related to the efficient management of crop water supply. The algorithms used by models to calculate ET are of various complexity and robustness, and often have to be modified for particular environments. We chose three crop models with different ET calculation strategies: CROPWAT with simple data inputs and no calibrations, MODWht for intensive inputs and limited calibrations, and CERES-Wheat with intensive inputs and more calibrations for parameters. The three crop models were used to calculate ET of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grown at two experimental sites of China and US during multiple growing seasons in which ET was measured using lysimeter or soil water balance techniques. None of the models calculated daily ET well at either Bushland or Zhengzhou as indicated by high mean absolute differences (MAD > 1.1 mm) and root mean squared errors (RMSE > 2.0 mm). The three models tended to overestimate daily ET when measured ET was small, and to underestimate daily ET when measured ET was large. The fitted values of daily crop coefficients (Kc), calculated from daily ET and reference ET (ETo), were very similar to those of Allen et al. (1998) [Allen, R.G., Pereira, S.L., Raes, D., Smith, M., 1998. Crop evapotranspiration guidelines for computing crop water requirements. Irrigation and drainage paper 56, Rome] although some Kc were overestimated (≥1.0). Leaf area index (LAI) was poorly calculated by MODWht and CERES-Wheat, especially when using the Priestley-Taylor method to estimate potential ET (PET). Poor overall ET calculation of three models was associated with poorly estimated values of PET or ETo, Kc and LAI as well as their interactions. Therefore, this suggested that considerable revisions and calibrations of ET algorithms of the three models are needed for the improvement of ET calculation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Crop model
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Winter wheat

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