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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338876

Research Project: Utilization of the G x E x M Framework to Develop Climate Adaptation Strategies for Temperate Agricultural Systems

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Agroclimatology and wheat production: Coping with climate change

item Hatfield, Jerry
item DOLD, CHRISTIAN - Orise Fellow

Submitted to: Frontiers in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/2018
Publication Date: 2/20/2018
Citation: Hatfield, J.L., Dold, C. 2018. Agroclimatology and wheat production: Coping with climate change. Frontiers in Plant Science. 9:224.

Interpretive Summary: Cereal crops are an important part of the world food supply and crop production around the world has shown a large variation in response to weather conditions during the growing season. We evaluated this response for Oklahoma, Kansas and North Dakota wheat production in the Great Plains of the United States as a case study. There have been a number of indices developed to estimate the impact of climate on crop distribution and production and the most robust forms of these indices utilize soil water as a major factor. We used yield gaps as a method of assessing the impact of temperature and precipitation on yield variation since 1950 and found spring precipitation had the largest impact on yields. Variation of precipitation during the grain-filling period had the most significant impact on yield across the Great Plains. This information will assist researchers and crop consultants in understanding why wheat yields vary and how management can offset the impacts of climate change.

Technical Abstract: Cereal production around the world is critical to the food supply for the human population. The changing climate will impact future production and even change the distribution of where cereals are grown. The distribution of crops is determined by a combination of temperature and precipitation because temperatures have to be in the range for plant growth and precipitation has to be adequate to supply crop water requirements for a given environment. Utilization of agroclimatic indices can provide insights into the potential areas for crop production and these indices incorporate temperature and precipitation. The focus of this paper is to examine the current forms of agroclimatic indices relative to the grain yields in Oklahoma, Kansas and North Dakota in the United States. Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is adapted to this area and there is a history of grain yields. We focused on production in these states since 1950 to 2016 and the yield variation over this period yield gaps are primarily due to inadequate precipitation during the grain-filling period. In Oklahoma, wheat yields were reduced when April and May precipitation was limited, while in Kansas, May precipitation was the dominant factor, and in North Dakota June-July precipitation was the factor explaining yield variation. Temperature varied among seasons and at the statewide level did not explain a significant portion of the yield variation. The pattern of increased variation in precipitation will cause further variation in wheat production across the Great Plains and managing soil to increase water storage would have significant impacts in terms of increasing climate resilience.