The strategies for adapting crop production to climate warming

Global warming has been proved to affect significantly crop production. Several studies have reported the negative impacts of the rising temperature on crop yields(Wang et al., 2020; Zhao et al., 2017). Higher temperature can drive a faster phenological development of crops and thus shorten the length of crop growing period. It also leads to heat damages on crops growth (Asseng et al., 2015). Given the negative effects of warming and the threat to food security, it is urgent to develop adaptation strategies to deal with the negative effects of warming on crop production.

Breeding and the adjustments of planting dates are two effective strategies. Different crop varieties show different sensitivities to temperature and require specific accumulated heat units for growth. Well-adapted varieties usually require more accumulation of heat units which delays crop maturity (Zabel et al., 2021). Consequently, the shortening of the growing period causing by faster phenological development could be counteracted partially even entirely by delayed maturity. (Zabel et al., 2021) recently investigated the requirements of breeding to allow for successful adaptation to climate warming under different future climate change scenarios. They indicated that the requirements were substantial and region-specific.

Another strategy by adjustment of planting dates allows to shift the growth stages of crops to more favorable climatic conditions. This shift could reduce the heat damages during critical periods of crop growth. However, the lack of comprehensive understanding in the acclimation of planting dates to climate leads to this adjustment is still dependent on the experience of farmers. This points out more attention should be paid to how adjust planting dates scientifically for the adaptation to climate warming.


Thanks Wang Han for her detailed comments on improving this blog.


Asseng, S. et al., 2015. Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production. Nature Climate Change, 5(2): 143-147.

Wang, X. et al., 2020. Emergent constraint on crop yield response to warmer temperature from field experiments. Nature Sustainability, 3(11): 908-916.

Zabel, F. et al., 2021. Large potential for crop production adaptation depends on available future varieties. Glob Chang Biol.

Zhao, C. et al., 2017. Temperature increase reduces global yields of major crops in four independent estimates. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114(35): 9326-9331.


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