Submitted to: Arctic Institute of North America
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2002
Publication Date: 9/1/2003
Citation: SHARRATT, B.S., KNIGHT, C., WOODING, F. CLIMATIC IMPACT ON SMALL GRAIN PRODUCTION IN THE SUBARCTIC. ARCTIC INSTITUTE OF NORTH AMERICA. 2003. V. 56. P. 219-226. Interpretive Summary: Little is known concerning the impact of climate on growth and production of small grain crops in subarctic regions of the world. Therefore, a study was conducted to assess those climatic factors most important to small grain production in interior Alaska. Low frequency and poor distribution of precipitation events during the growing season had the largest influence on nyield of barley, oat and wheat. This was particularly evident in regions with coarse-textured versus fine-textured soils. In regions with fine- textured soils, sub-optimal air temperature and insolation also limited production of small grains. This study indicates that small grain production in the subarctic can be bolstered by the identification and development by growers of land management practices that will conserve soil water.
Technical Abstract: A cool and dry growing season is often a barrier to crop growth and development in the subarctic. Little is known, however, concerning the impact of the subarctic climate on crop production. The purpose of this study was to assess those climatic factors most important to the production of small grains in Alaska. Climate and yield data for barley, oat, and wheat were collected over 8 years at Delta Junction and 15 years at Fairbanks. Multiple regression analysis was used to assess the yield response to climate at both locations. Yield response to individual climatic factors was similar at Delta Junction and Fairbanks, but the number of factors influencing yield differed between locations. Barley yield, for example, was bolstered by a reduction in the storage precipitation deficit at both locations as well as by higher air temperature and insolation at Fairbanks. Yield of oat was bolstered by smaller precipitation deficits and shorter periods of drought at both locations and with higher insolation at Fairbanks. Yield of wheat increased as a result of a reduction in the storage precipitation deficit and increase in maximum air temperature at both locations. These seasonal climatic factors accounted for at least 57% of the variation in yield of barley and wheat and for 43% of the variation in yield of oat. This study suggests that precipitation (number of events, distribution, or deficit) is perhaps the most important climatic factor influencing small grain yield in interior Alaska.