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Study Shows Rise in Mean Temperature Would Reduce Wheat Yields

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kansas State University research shows an increase in mean temperatures could reduce wheat yields
Kansas State University research shows an increase in mean temperatures could reduce wheat yields

According to a recent research study conducted by Kansas State University, simulations found that a one degree Celsius increase (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in projected mean temperature would decrease wheat yields by 10.64 bushels per acre (nearly 21%).

The study, which examined wheat variety yield data from Kansas performance tests, spanned across 26 years (1985-2011) and found that wheat breeding program improvements have allowed wheat yields to continue to increase over time. In fact, throughout the 26 year period, wheat breeding programs lifted average wheat yields by 13 bushels per acre, or 0.51 bushel each year, for a 26% total increase.

"Kansas wheat producers are challenged by weather, pests and disease," said Andrew Barkley, professor of agricultural economics and lead researcher of a multidisciplinary team that included agronomists and plant pathologists. "Fortunately, the Kansas wheat breeding program produces new varieties of wheat that increase yields over time.

Climate change, as well as disease and genetic improvement data, were gathered from Tribune in the western part of Kansas, to Ottawa in the east, to Parsons in the south and Belleville in the north, providing a well-rounded look at 245 varieties of hard red winter wheat from across the state.

For Kansas wheat producers, this data shows if mean temperatures rise, wheat yields could decrease. However, thanks to continued wheat breeding program improvements, yields should have the opportunity to continue to increase in the future according to the KSU study.

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