Assessment of drought during corn growing season in Northeast China
Northeast China has experienced extensive climate change during the past decades. Corn is the primary production crop in China and is sensitive to meteorological disasters, especially drought. Drought has thus greatly endangered crop production and the country’s food security. The majority of previous studies has not highlighted farming adaptation activities undertaken within the changed climate, which should not be neglected. In this study, we assessed drought hazard in the corn vegetation growing period, the reproductive growing period, and the whole growing period based on data for yearly corn phenology, daily precipitation, and temperature gathered at 26 agro-meteorological stations across Northeast China from 1981 to 2009. The M-K trend test was used to detect trends in sowing date and drought. The standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) was used to describe drought. Drought frequency and intensity were used to assess the drought hazard in the region. We found that the sowing date was delayed in the southern part of the study area, coupled with a trend towards a shorter and more humid vegetation growing period. In the northern part of the study area, an earlier sowing date increased the length of the vegetation growing period and the reproductive growing period, while drying trends occurred within the two corn growing periods. We assessed the drought hazard during each growing period: the reproductive growing period faced a more severe drought hazard and was also the period where corn was most sensitive to water stress. Drought hazard during the total growing period was closely related to corn yield.
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