Impacts of recent climate warming, cultivar changes, and crop management on winter wheat phenology across the Loess Plateau of China

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Journal Article
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2015, 200 pp. 135 - 143
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© 2014 Elsevier B.V. Crop yields are influenced by growing season length, which are determined by temperature and agronomic management, such as sowing date and changes in cultivars. It is essential to quantify the interaction between climate change and crop management on crop phenology to understand the adaptation of farming systems to climate change. Historical changes in winter wheat phenology have been observed across the Loess Plateau of China during 1981-2009. The observed dates of sowing, emergence, and beginning of winter dormancy were delayed by an average of 1.2, 1.3, and 1.2daysdecade -1 , respectively. Conversely, the dates of green-up (regrowth after winter dormancy), anthesis, and maturity advanced by an average of 2.0, 3.7, and 3.1daysdecade -1 , respectively. Additionally, the growth duration (sowing to maturity), overwintering period, and vegetative phase (sowing to anthesis) shortened by an average of 4.3, 3.1, and 5.0daysdecade -1 , respectively. The changes in phenological stages and phases were significantly negatively correlated with a temperature increase during this time. Differently to most other phase changes, the reproductive phase (anthesis to maturity) prolonged by an average of 0.7daydecade -1 , but this was spatially variable. The prolonged reproductive phase was due to advanced anthesis dates and consequently caused the reproductive phase to occur during a cooler part of the season, which led to an extended reproductive phase. Applying a crop simulation model using a field-tested standard cultivar across locations and years indicated that the simulated phenological stages have accelerated with the warming trend more than the observed phenological stages. This indicated that, over the last decades, later sowing dates and the introduction of new cultivars with longer thermal time requirement have compensated for some of the increased temperature-induced changes in wheat phenology.
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