||Variability of crop yields is detrimental for food security. Under climate change its amplitude is likely to increase, thus it is essential to understand the underlying causes and mechanisms. Crop models are the primary tool to project future changes in crop yields under climate change. Asystematic overview of drivers and mechanisms of crop yield variability (YV) can thus inform crop model development and facilitate improved understanding of climate change impacts on crop yields. Yet there is a vast body of literature on crop physiology and YV, which makes a prioritization of mechanisms for implementation in models challenging. Therefore this paper takes on a novel approach to systematically mine and organize existing knowledge from the literature. The aim is to identify important mechanisms lacking in models, which can help to set priorities in model improvement. We structure knowledge from the literature in a semi-quantitative network. This network consists of complex interactions between growing conditions, plant physiology and crop yield. We utilize the resulting network structure to assign relative importance to causes of YV and related plant physiological processes. As expected, our findings confirm existing knowledge, in particular on the dominant role of temperature and precipitation, but also highlight other important drivers of YV. More importantly, our method allows for identifying the relevant physiological processes that transmit variability in growing conditions to variability in yield. We can identify explicit targets for the improvement of crop models. The network can additionally guide model development by outlining complex interactions between processes and by easily retrieving quantitative information for each of the 350 interactions. We show the validity of our network method as a structured, consistent and scalable dictionary of literature. The method can easily be applied to many other research fields.