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Managing the risk of extreme climate events in Australian major wheat production systems

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Extreme climate events (ECEs) such as drought, frost risk and heat stress cause significant economic losses in Australia. The risk posed by ECEs in the wheat production systems of Australia could be better managed through the identification of safe flowering (SFW) and optimal time of sowing (TOS) windows. To address this issue, three locations (Narrabri, Roseworthy and Merredin), three cultivars (Suntop and Gregory for Narrabri, Mace for both Roseworthy and Merredin) and 20 TOS at 1-week intervals between 1 April and 12 August for the period from 1957 to 2007 were evaluated using the Agricultural Production System sIMulator (APSIM)-Wheat model. Simulation results show that (1) the average frequency of frost events decreased with TOS from 8 to 0 days (d) across the four cases (the combination of locations and cultivars), (2) the average frequency of heat stress events increased with TOS across all cases from 0 to 10 d, (3) soil moisture stress (SMS) increased with earlier TOS before reaching a plateau and then slightly decreasing for Suntop and Gregory at Narrabri and Mace at Roseworthy while SMS increased with TOS for Mace at Merredin from 0.1 to 0.8, (4) Mace at Merredin had the earliest and widest SFW (216–260) while Mace at Roseworthy had latest SFW (257–280), (5) frost risk and heat stress determine SFW at wetter sites (i.e. Narrabri and Roseworthy) while frost risk and SMS determine SFW at drier site (i.e. Merredin) and (6) the optimal TOS (window) to maximise wheat yield are 6–20 May, 13–27 May and 15 April at Narrabri, Roseworthy and Merredin, respectively. These findings provide important and specific information for wheat growers about the management of ECE risk on farm. Furthermore, the coupling of the APSIM crop models with state-of-the-art seasonal and intra-seasonal climate forecast information provides an important tool for improved management of the risk of ECEs in economically important cropping industries in the foreseeable future.

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We thank the National Variety Trials for providing the measured climate datasets and wheat production data for validating the APSIM-Wheat model.


This study was supported by Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation with project code of US00081.

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Correspondence to Qunying Luo.

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Luo, Q., Trethowan, R. & Tan, D.K.Y. Managing the risk of extreme climate events in Australian major wheat production systems. Int J Biometeorol 62, 1685–1694 (2018).

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