Study finds climate change may dramatically reduce wheat production

February 19, 2015 by Greg Tammen
A recent study finds that in the coming decades, wheat yields are projected to decrease by 6 percent for each degree Celsius the temperature rises if no measures to adapt to extreme weather fluctuations are taken. 

A recent study involving Kansas State University researchers finds that in the coming decades at least one-quarter of the world's wheat production will be lost to extreme weather from climate change if no adaptive measures are taken.

Vara Prasad, professor of crop ecophysiology and director of the USAID Feed the Future Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab at Kansas State University, is part of a collaborative team that found wheat yields are projected to decrease by 6 percent for each degree Celsius the rises if no measures to adapt to extreme weather fluctuations are taken. Based on the 2012-2013 wheat harvest of 701 million tons worldwide, the resulting temperature increase would result in 42 million tons less produced wheat—or a loss of nearly one-quarter of the current .

"It's pretty severe," Prasad said. "The projected effect of climate change on wheat is more than what has been forecast. That's challenging because the world will have to at least double our food supply in the next 30 years if we're going to feed 9.6 billion people."

Prasad and colleagues published their study, "Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production," in a recent issue of the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. The study was supported through the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Wheat Alliance, two organizations seeking ways to increase wheat yield.

For the study, researchers systematically tested 30 wheat crop models against field experiments from around the world that were conducted in areas where the average temperature of the growing season ranged from 15 to 32 degrees Celsius. The models accounted for planting dates, planting rates, temperatures and other crop management factors.

With the models, researchers were able to look at the effects of temperature stresses on wheat and predict future changes based on temperature changes.

Researchers found that the effects from climate change and its increasing temperatures on wheat will be more severe than once projected and are happening sooner than expected. While Prasad said increases in the average temperature are problematic, a bigger challenge is the extreme temperatures that are resulting from .

"Extreme temperature doesn't only mean heat; it also means cold," Prasad said. "Simply looking at the doesn't really show us anything because it's the extremities that are more detrimental to crops. Plants can handle gradual changes because they have time to adapt, but an extreme heat wave or cold snap can kill a plant because that adjustment period is often nonexistent."

Researchers also found that increasing temperatures are shortening the time frame that wheat plants have to mature and produce full heads for harvest, resulting in less grain produced from each plant.

"It's like having one minute to fill a tall glass with water. Under optimal conditions, we can fill that glass pretty well," Prasad said. "But now we're factoring in extreme temperatures that are affecting the growing window and the grain size. So it becomes like trying to fill that same glass, but now we only have 40 seconds to do it and the faucet is running slower."

Currently, Prasad and colleagues at Kansas State University, in collaboration with the university's Wheat Genetics Resource Center, are using growth chambers and heats tents to quantify the effects of temperature. The data will help in refining the crop models so that they can be more accurate in predicting wheat responses.

Their work will help scientists develop more robust models that can help farmers globally select more weather-tolerant and resilient wheat varieties based on their location. Additionally, farmers can determine the optimal planting date to avoid stress and minimize possible exposure to extreme weather events, such as heat and cold snaps, during the growing season.

Kansas is the No. 1 wheat-producing state in the U.S., growing 9.4 million acres of in 2014.

Explore further: Global warming reduces wheat production markedly if no adaptation takes place

More information: "Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production." Nature Climate Change 5, 143–147 (2015) DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2470

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33 comments

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howhot2
4.1 / 5 (13) Feb 19, 2015
KS is considered the bread basket of the world with it's wheat crop. But the plains as of late have been getting hammered with excessively hot summer temperatures as well as a taxed water supply from an over burdened aquifer used in irrigation of some parts. This past summer had some extremely hot summer days and nights way beyond normal. Typical temps for SW KS is 87F in June, but 2013 there where 8 days above 100F going to 110F on several. That June is typically the growing month for winter wheat.

And there are some ridiculous deniers out there that claim we can live with an addition 10F global average temp increase by 2100 from AGW. (after 2100 then what?).

OT: Here is a good discussion about the US aquifer system. It's kind of interesting to see and then overlay your various fracking sites on top of that for an idea of what waters supplies could be effected from fracking.

http://web.mit.ed...er.shtml
foolspoo
2.5 / 5 (12) Feb 19, 2015
wheat, a GMO by human hands, is incredibly resilient. it is this type of nonsense that gives the ignorant doubters their fuel.

Perhaps middle america won't be the ideal place to grow maize in the coming decades, just as it was not the ideal place for the majority of its existence. change motivated by fear is far from ideal. while fear assumes power, knowledge is permanence.
foolspoo
2 / 5 (9) Feb 19, 2015
gkam
2.3 / 5 (15) Feb 19, 2015
foolspoo conflates and confuses the raw emotion used on the pathetically-vulnerable using screams of "WMD!", with the concern of rational scientists over AGW.
gerald_kaiser_5
4.3 / 5 (11) Feb 19, 2015
It seems there is an army of trolls standing ready to trash any article on climate change, usually anonymously. I've noticed that such articles almost always get a low rating at phys.org. Who's the paymaster?
gkam
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 19, 2015
Wait until the chronic malcontents come out, screaming "LIAR!", and using foul language.
foolspoo
3 / 5 (8) Feb 19, 2015
gkam, you have failed yourself. try again
gkam
2.5 / 5 (13) Feb 19, 2015
Unable to debate the point, somebody says :"gkam, you have failed yourself. try again".

My point was valid, commenting on the differences between one stimulus and the other, and how folk react.

The evidence for AGW is undeniable, unlike the screams that panicked folk without decent educations or rationality into those mass killings for our conservatives and the oil business.
foolspoo
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2015
"unlike the screams that panicked folk without decent educations or rationality into those mass killings for our conservatives and the oil business."

precisely... thats one of the reasons why the effort made in this article is borderline futile.
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 19, 2015
The Pathological Lies of the AGW Cult and their Pathological "science", all just to propagate their dogma.
Tell us, how much did it warm in the previous century and by how much did wheat production decrease?
JoeBlue
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 19, 2015
Crops do not just die out because a change of environment. Some strains might die in a particular region, but other strains will be able to survive through the change of environment.

That's what the theory of evolution tells us, and how it works in reality.

This article is just fear mongering to the uneducated.
gerald_kaiser_5
4.3 / 5 (11) Feb 19, 2015
JoeBlue: Dinosaurs don't just die out either, right? Try moving to New Guinea and see what part of you evolves to survive the harsh environment.

"This article is just fear mongering to the uneducated." I guess PhDs in mathematics and physics don't count for much.
howhot2
3.7 / 5 (12) Feb 19, 2015
@gerald_kaiser_5. You are correct. Phys.org is an open battle ground of wits. Don't give the otherside an even break. Just bring your logic to the debate, and have fun until it hurts. That is what the rightwing trolls do, so pay-back is fair game.

Just follow @Joe_blue; "That's what the theory of evolution tells us, and how it works in reality.
This article is just fear mongering to the uneducated" And this guy can even afford an internet connection? Haha.
Rustybolts
not rated yet Feb 20, 2015
This is why Monsanto and hr933 are in place. Didn't you get the memo Kansas?
gkam
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 20, 2015
Ain't no real debate here, unless it is with the Bushites, in league with the Saudis. Their products are killing the Earth.

Even the Koch Brothers learned their lessons when they funded a critic of AGW to "prove" it is wrong. He went through every study made, every model, and did more studies,and came to the conclusion AGW was REAL!

http://blogs.berk...skeptic/

http://www.thegua...nge-mind
foolspoo
4 / 5 (4) Feb 20, 2015
embarrassing
gkam
2.2 / 5 (10) Feb 20, 2015
Full of Disclosure did not like my references to the studies which prove him not only wrong, but silly.

Wait until he actually reads them!
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 20, 2015
gerald_kaiser_5
4.3 / 5 (12) Feb 20, 2015
@howhot2: Sorry, I've got better things to do. The climate change trolls will go the way of the tobacco trolls. *That's* evolution.
foolspoo
4 / 5 (4) Feb 20, 2015
was not aware you didn't attempt to comprehend my comments. i have been informing folks of the dangers and unknowns in relations to our changing climate since the 90's. you would do well to understand what you argue prior to taking such a firm stance. good luck gkam.
foolspoo
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2015
and speaking of irony, wait until you actually pay attention to what im saying!
gkam
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 20, 2015
Foolspoo, you are correct about me not getting it.

Sorry. Had a Vet Center appointment on my mind.
foolspoo
3 / 5 (2) Feb 20, 2015
all good! i did enjoy reading mullers thoughts, thanks. some digging to do now

from antigoracles' link;
" I think when you say I've now reached agreement with 98%, I actually disagree with most of that 98% on many of the things they say, if not most things. Global warming is real, but the things they attribute to climate change, I think, are mostly wrong and demonstrably wrong"
gkam
2.6 / 5 (10) Feb 20, 2015
". . but the things they attribute to climate change . . "

Such as ocean acidification, spread of tropical diseases, dislocation of food-growing areas, severe weather, long-term and severe drought, . . . those things?
full_disclosure
1.3 / 5 (7) Feb 20, 2015
Full of Disclosure did not like my references to the studies which prove him not only wrong, but silly.

Wait until he actually reads them!


Nice try g-scam....that kook-aid must be soooo sweet....
foolspoo
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 20, 2015
On second thought, the quotation is not as apt as i initially thought. mullers words mirror my thoughts on all the speculation rather than the data.

referencing the time period of 1753 to the present, muller said: "There was short-time—short-term variability that was due to volcanoes, essentially nothing due to the solar variation. Theoretically, that's not too surprising, but I was surprised nonetheless. But the remaining curve, the rise in that curve, was dead on to human production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. At that point, the data had led me to a conclusion I would not have expected a few years earlier."
Egleton
1 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2015
Limits to Growth report the Standard run.
Let me tell you folks, It's going to be fun.
The Thing just wont go away.
And here is your answer
"USA, USA,USA"
zorro6204
1.7 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2015
So? Americans get fat eating all that wheat, it's not good for you to eat the stuff at all. Grow something more healthy, like beans.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (6) Feb 22, 2015
Study finds climate change may dramatically reduce wheat production
Idiot AGWite scaremongering.

Some of the most productive farmland in the world is in a hot, semi-arid climate.

"The Central Valley is one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. More than 230 crops are grown there. On less than 1 percent of the total farmland in the United States, the Central Valley produces 8 percent of the nation's agricultural output by value:"

http://en.wikiped...iculture
gkam
3.3 / 5 (12) Feb 22, 2015
Ooba leaves out the significant amount of water which has to be taken from other places to achieve this in the Central Valley. Maybe it is not in Wiki. In that case, I'll school him on how it works.

We are running out of water to grow his nuts and avocados. Sea level rise threatens salt-water intrusions into the Valley. Corporate Farming has salted the land up with Selenium to toxic levels, using taxpayer-subsidized water. Having ruined it, the corporations will declare it a loss to evade taxes, and walk away.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (6) Feb 22, 2015
Ooba leaves out the significant amount of water which has to be taken from other places to achieve this in the Central Valley. Maybe it is not in Wiki. In that case, I'll school him on how it works.

We are running out of water to grow his nuts and avocados. Sea level rise threatens salt-water intrusions into the Valley. Corporate Farming has salted the land up with Selenium to toxic levels, using taxpayer-subsidized water. Having ruined it, the corporations will declare it a loss to evade taxes, and walk away.
Are unsubstantiated hysterics all you have?

Bongstar420
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 22, 2015
The only problem is unqualified farmers making bad crop decisions. Most of the "problems" outlined in the link above are not experienced by actual good farmers. This is because you can have a fair idea about spring will be half a year before it approaches.

Like how I expect Oregon to have a warmer than average spring with normal rain. Oregon crops are going to do quite well next season. I am definitely not waiting till mid-late June this year to get my Tomatoes out.

Wheat yields are at record levels btw, even with all the "bad news" about the "climate effects"

gkam
2.9 / 5 (10) Feb 22, 2015
No, that is not the "only problem", nor the greatest one. Look into how Selenium from corporate farms got flushed into Kesterson wildlife refuge, killing the birds. Look into the drop in the water table in the Valley. Look into the huge increase in pollution in the Valley, from Nitrates in the water to the Volatile Solids, little pieces of manure in our "breathing zone" from a million diary cows.

Oregon is not the Central Valley, which was formerly an estuary, a marsh.

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