Impact assessment of climate change and later-maturing cultivars on winter wheat growth and soil water deficit on the Loess Plateau of China

Abstract

The use of adapted crop cultivars is an effective approach to cope with climate change. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impacts of climate change and the use of later-maturing cultivars on winter wheat yields and soil water deficit in dryland farming on the Loess Plateau of China. The later-maturing cultivars of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were generated by increasing the growing degree day requirement according to Root Zone Water Quality Model 2. The results showed that the wheat yields and water use efficiency were significantly improved by the later-maturing cultivars and fluctuated along with precipitation trends. The downward trend of wheat growth duration due to climate warming conditions was effectively counteracted and even reversed by introduction of the later-maturing cultivars. Increased precipitation during the longer growth period of the later-maturing cultivars partly compensated for the wheat evapotranspiration, so that the soil water deficit level was maintained or even reduced. The results of this study contribute to gaining improved understanding of the effective phenotypic characteristics of dryland winter wheat to cope with climate change using model-based assessments.

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Acknowledgments

This work is jointly supported by the National 863 Research Program (2013AA102904, 2011AA100503), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41371234), the NWAFU Research Project (2014YQ002), and the “111” Project (B12007).

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Correspondence to Hao Feng or Ying Zhao.

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Ding, D., Feng, H., Zhao, Y. et al. Impact assessment of climate change and later-maturing cultivars on winter wheat growth and soil water deficit on the Loess Plateau of China. Climatic Change 138, 157–171 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1714-1

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Dryland
  • Later-maturing cultivars
  • Winter wheat
  • Water deficit
  • Precipitation distribution