Climate variability adversely impacts crop production and imposes a major constraint on farming planning, mostly under rainfed conditions, across the world. Considering the recent advances in climate science, many studies are trying to provide a reliable basis for climate, and subsequently agricultural production, forecasts. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon (ENSO) is one of the principle sources of interannual climatic variability. In Iran, primarily in the northeast, rainfed cereal yield shows a high annual variability. This study investigated the role played by precipitation, temperature and three climate indices [Arctic Oscillation (AO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and NINO 3.4] in historically observed rainfed crop yields (1983-2005) of both barley and wheat in the northeast of Iran. The results revealed differences in the association between crop yield and climatic factors at different locations. The south of the study area is a very hot location, and the maximum temperature proved to be the limiting and determining factor for crop yields; temperature variability resulted in crop yield variability. For the north of the study area, NINO 3.4 exhibited a clear association trend with crop yields. In central locations, NAO provided a solid basis for the relationship between crop yields and climate factors.