Study: Climate change expected to hamper wheat yields

A wheat field in Southern Saskatchewan, Canada. (Evan Leeson/Flickr)
A wheat field in Southern Saskatchewan, Canada. (Evan Leeson/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | December 23, 2014

Rising global temperatures caused by climate change is expected to reduce wheat yields according to a recent report.

The report “Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production” was published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study’s lead author is Senthold Asseng, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida.

The researchers found that wheat yields are expected to be reduced by 6 percent for every 1 degree Celsius the temperature rises. Estimates show that global temperatures are expected to rise between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This temperature change and its affect on wheat harvesting is expected to have a significant impact on food demand as the world population may be as high as 12 billion by 2050.

Wheat is used to produce a wide range of goods from bread to beer and is grown in nearly every state in the country. Roughly 70 percent of wheat grown in the U.S. is used for food products, 22 percent is used for animal feed and residuals, and the remaining eight percent is used for seed.

Kansas leads the country in wheat production followed closely by North Dakota. Iowa produced 1,092,000 bushels of wheat in 2013 which amounted to less than one percent of wheat production nationwide. Wheat was the primary crop planted by early settlers in Iowa and the Hawkeye State ranked second nationwide in wheat production prior to 1870.

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