AgWeb] Some of the most important U.S. crops, from wheat to soybeans, are at risk of substantial damage from climate change.
Higher temperatures may cut the wheat harvest by 20 percent by the
end of the century without efficient carbon reductions, according to a
study by researchers including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research and the University of Chicago. Yield reduction could reach 40
percent for soybeans and almost 50 percent for corn, relative to
non-elevated temperatures, the group said in a report released Thursday.
"The effects go far beyond the U.S., one of the largest crop
exporters," the researchers said. "World market crop prices might
increase, which is an issue for food security in poor countries."
For each day above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), corn and
soybean harvests could lose about 5 percent, according to the findings.
Those temperatures will be more common amid “unabated” climate change,
and yields could be further lowered if temperatures are above 36
Celsius. The researchers ran a set of computer simulations of U.S. crop
Without further pledges to curb emissions, world temperatures are set to
rise by as much as 3.4 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial
levels, according to a November report from the United Nations’
Environment Program. Scientific consensus is that any increase above 2
degrees would lead to catastrophic changes to the climate -- from
extreme droughts and coastal flooding to disruptions to world food
In 2016, global temperatures were record hot for a third straight
year, according to U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
figures released this week.
"Increased irrigation can help to reduce the negative effects of
global warming on crops," the crop study’s researchers said. "This is
possible only in regions where sufficient water is available. Eventually
limiting global warming is needed to keep crop losses in check."
Not all climate research has found the same results. A study from the
European Union’s Joint Research Centre last year said wheat yields may
benefit from higher carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere,
while corn could suffer. The uncertain position of the Donald Trump
administration is clouding the future of environmental research
conducted by agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. Trump takes office Friday.
Rising temperatures have yet to slow growth in U.S. crop yields. U.S.
corn and soybean output has soared in recent years, aided by increased
plantings of genetically modified seeds. Corn yields reached a record
174.6 bushels per acre in the 2016 season, up 37 percent from two
decades prior, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Soybean yields
at 52.1 bushels an acre were also an all-time high. Read More