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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #393840

Research Project: Resilience of Integrated Weed Management Systems to Climate Variability in Midwest Crop Production Systems

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research

Title: Evidence of sweet corn yield losses from rising temperatures

item DHALIWAL, DALJEET - University Of Illinois
item Williams, Martin

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/27/2022
Publication Date: 10/29/2022
Citation: Dhaliwal, D., Williams, M. 2022. Evidence of sweet corn yield losses from rising temperatures. Scientific Reports. 12. Article 18218.

Interpretive Summary: The U.S. is a pioneer and global leader in sweet corn research, development, and seed supply. A quantified understanding of how climate change may impact sweet corn production is lacking. We successfully quantified the effects of temperature and precipitation trends on sweet corn yield in the U.S. High temperatures (> 30') during sweet corn flowering resulted in substantial yield losses which were exacerbated under rainfed conditions. Producing sweet corn, one of the most popular vegetable crops in the U.S., may be more difficult in the future without adopting new approaches and technologies to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Technical Abstract: Crop production often is sensitive to anomalous weather conditions, but vegetable crops in particular can be highly sensitive to changes in the environment. Using sweet corn data collected on some 20,000 fields over a 27-year period, the objectives of this study were to: (a) estimate yield sensitivities to changes in growing season temperature and total precipitation, (b) estimate critical thresholds in non-linear temperature effects on sweet corn yield across diverse environments, and (c) quantify yield losses from surpassing the upper temperature threshold during anthesis in sweet corn. Our results show sweet corn yield losses from recent trends of rising temperatures in the U.S. across rainfed and irrigated fields. Growing-season temperatures exceeding 30 deg C were detrimental to crop yield. Each additional degree day spent above 30 deg C during anthesis reduced crop yields by 0.5% and 2% in irrigated and rainfed fields, respectively. This study shows evidence for sweet corn yield losses across broad spatial domains in the wake of climate change and underscores the urgency to accelerate adoption of mitigation strategies to sustain production of this highly popular crop.