Rainfed agriculture is practiced in the central clay plains of Sudan and is affected by the high rainfall variability in time and space within and between seasons. This study focused on analyzing rainfall variability and trend using a 30-year record (1985-2014) of seven meteorological stations at the major agricultural production areas in Gedarif state in eastern Sudan. Yearly rainfall has relatively low variability compared to monthly variability. According to annual rainfall totals, it was possible to classify stations into two groups; one with annual rainfall more than 600 mm and the second with rainfall ranging between 500 to 600 mm. In both groups, the majority of rainfall (60%) occurred during July and August. Trends of rainfall were inconsistent and the cropping season extended from June to September. Farmers in areas having high rainfall and extended growing season (group I) could grow suitable crops and varieties and their appropriate management practices should be implemented. In areas of low rainfall and short growing seasons (group II), farmers could grow crops of short maturing varieties and water harvesting techniques. There is a need for research activities that examine rainfall trends and how agricultural practices might adapt accordingly.
Key words: Rainfall, variability, trend, sorghum yield, Gedarif, Sudan.
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