Abstract. Agricultural drought mainly stems from reduced soil moisture and precipitation, and it causes adverse impacts on the growth of crops and vegetation, thereby affecting agricultural production and food security. In order to develop drought mitigation measures, reliable agricultural drought forecasting is essential. In this study, we developed an agricultural drought forecasting model based on canonical vine copulas in three dimensions (3C-vine model) in which antecedent meteorological drought and agricultural drought persistence were utilized as predictors. Furthermore, a meta-Gaussian (MG) model was selected as a reference to evaluate the forecast skill. The agricultural drought in China in August of 2018 was selected as a typical case study, and the spatial patterns of 1- to 3-month lead forecasts of agricultural drought utilizing the 3C-vine model resembled the corresponding observations, indicating the good predictive ability of the model. The performance metrics the NashSutcliffe efficiency (NSE), the coefficient of determination (R2), and the root-mean-square error (RMSE) showed that the 3C-vine model outperformed the MG model with respect to forecasting agricultural drought in August for diverse lead times. Moreover, the 3C-vine model exhibited excellent forecast skill with respect to capturing the extreme agricultural drought over different selected typical regions. This study may help to guide drought early warning, drought mitigation, and water resource scheduling.