Diverse responses of winter wheat yield and water use to climate change and variability on the semiarid loess plateau in China

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Agronomy Journal, 2014, 106 (4), pp. 1169 - 1178
Issue Date:
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Crop production and water use in rainfed cropland are vulnerable to climate change. This study was to quantify diverse responses of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield and water use to climate change on the Loess Plateau (LP) under different combinations of climatic variables. The crop model APSIM was validated against field experimental data and applied to calculate yield and water use at 18 sites on the LP during 1961 to 2010. The coefficient of variation of yield ranged from 12 to 66%, in which the vulnerability of yield increased from the southeast (12%) to the northwest (66%). This change was attributed to the gradual increase in precipitation variation from the southeast to the northwest. An obvious warming trend during 1961 to 2010 resulted in a significant decrease in the growth duration by 1 to 5 d decade-1. The yield at 12 sites was significantly reduced by 120 to 720 kg ha-1 decade-1. Evapotranspiration was significantly decreased by 1 to 26 mm decade-1; however, water use efficiency at most sites showed no significant trend. Eighteen sites were classified into three climatic zones by cluster analysis: high temperature-high precipitation-low radiation (HHL), medium temperature-medium precipitation-medium radiation (MMM), and low temperature-low precipitation-high radiation (LLH). The trend of decreasing yield was smallest in the HHL cluster because of a minimal reduction in precipitation, while decreasing trends in yield and evapotranspiration were larger in the LLH and MMM because of larger reductions in precipitation. The results imply that among strategies such as breeding for long duration or drought tolerance, modification of the planting date will be necessary to avoid high temperatures associated with climate change. © 2014 by the American Society of Agronomy.
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