More on Mark Hertsgaard’s ridiculous claims – The Goldilocks Crop and the Impending Extinction of Pasta

Guest Post by David Middleton

Yesterday, WUWT covered the issue from one angle, and blew Hertsgaard’s riduculous claims out of the water. Today, here’s another independently arrived at conclusion that suggests Hertsgaard’s claims are pure fantasy.

It is apparently becoming too warm to grow wheat…

Bakken Oil Boom and Climate Change Threaten the Future of Pasta

Dec 10, 2012 12:00 AM EST

Temperatures are rising. Rainfalls are shifting. Droughts are intensifying. What will we eat when wheat won’t grow.

A world without pasta seems inconceivable. Mac-and-cheese-loving children across the United States would howl in protest. Italy might suffer a cultural heart attack. Social unrest could explode in northern China, where noodles are the main staple.

But if humans want to keep eating pasta, we will have to take much more aggressive action against global warming. Pasta is made from wheat, and a large, growing body of scientific studies and real-world observations suggest that wheat will be hit especially hard as temperatures rise and storms and drought intensify in the years ahead.

[...]

Three grains—wheat, corn, and rice—account for most of the food humans consume. All three are already suffering from climate change, but wheat stands to fare the worst in the years ahead, for it is the grain most vulnerable to high temperatures. That spells trouble not only for pasta but also for bread, the most basic food of all. (Pasta is made from the durum variety of wheat, while bread is generally made from more common varieties, such as red spring.)

“Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it,” says Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production, according to David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment.

[...]

Newsweek

This is really funny because it wasn’t that long ago that it was too cold to grow wheat…

Little Ice Age

by Edna Sun

February 15 , 2005 — It was only a few hundred years ago that the earth experienced its last ice age. Global temperatures started falling during the 1300s and hit their lowest points in the late 1700s and early 1800s. New Yorkers could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island across a frozen harbor, while Londoners held “Frost Fairs” on a solid Thames River. Glaciers advanced in China, New Zealand, and Peru, and snow covered Ethiopian peaks. Diseases, aided by the change in climate, spread quickly throughout Europe and Asia. Iced waters delayed shipping from ports, growing glaciers engulfed farms and villages, tree lines receded, and agriculture deteriorated, leading to centuries of poor harvests, famine, and social unrest. Though the average global temperature dropped only one to two degrees Celsius below what they are today, the cold spell nevertheless drastically affected life at this time.

- – – – – – – – – – – -

Global temperatures naturally fluctuate slightly from year to year. However, in the past 10,000 years, there have been three relatively long global cold spells. The Little Ice Age (LIA) is the most recent and best documented, especially in Europe

It may have had a greater effect on history than its predecessors because it immediately followed several centuries of unusually warm temperatures. Between 800 and 1200, Europe basked in a warm spell known as the “Medieval Warm Period” (MWP); temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than they are today.

[...]

Fatal Harvest

During the LIA, summers were wet and unusually cold and the growing season was shortened. Widespread crop failure resulted in famine that killed millions of people. To avoid starvation, people would eat the planting seed for next season, which created more of a shortage the following year.

During the MWP European farmers primarily grew cereal grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, which flourished. But the long thin stalks of these crops made them vulnerable to the strong winds and heavy rainfall that came during the LIA. The temperature drop in northern Europe made it difficult to raise these grains and many farmers gave up trying. Less grain was produced, creating a severe shortage and raising prices.

[...]

PBS

“[A] mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production.” Yet wheat and cereal production flourished during the Medieval Warm Period, when “temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than they are today”…

Obviously wheat can’t handle any temperature. The LIA was too cold. Today it’s too warm for wheat, even though the wheat flourished during the warmer MWP. I guess the Goldilocks temperature for wheat must have occurred sometime between 1975 and 1980, since Newsweek reported that we were on the verge of a new ice age in 1975 and anthropogenic global warming began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 (intentional sarcasm).

Whenever I run into an Alarmists Gone Wild non sequitur, I always check the math.

Wheat production data for the period 1961-2010 are available from FAOSTAT and temperature data can easily be downloaded from Wood For Trees.

Figure 1. Wheat yield and production have more than doubled over the last 50 years. Data sources: FAOSTAT and Hadley Center & UEA CRU (via Wood for Trees). Yield is in hectograms per hectare (Hg/Ha), area harvested is in hectares (Ha) and production is in tonnes.

This explains why wheat liked the Medieval Warm Period and disliked the Little Ice Age.

The only explanation for this sort of nonsense, is Alarmists Gone Wild…

“Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it,” says Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production, according to David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment.

Wheat yield and production have more than doubled over the past 50 years.

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75 thoughts on “More on Mark Hertsgaard’s ridiculous claims – The Goldilocks Crop and the Impending Extinction of Pasta

  1. 5.5% drop in wheat production?
    Could it just possibly be that every kid and his brother is growing corn for ethanol?

  2. “Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it,” says Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission.” Just how can Mr Manthey be given the title professor? How can he be given any post in any university bearing in mind his utter ignorance of established empirical data? Even worse than the folk at CRU, UEA UK.

  3. Aha! In that very PBS article, there is a bit about the MWP- and the fact that it was as much as 3C warmer than today. You would think the people who have done their best to keep skeptic views off the air, would notice they had let the Truth slip out, on their own website!

  4. “Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it,” says Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University.

    Has this idiot ever been to the Mallee?

  5. Well, farmers grow wheat in Australia. The last of the crop in Cowell (S.A.) was harvested today in 38 ℃ weather. There would have been many days over 35 ℃ in the lead up to harvest.

    It would seem that varieties of wheat that cope with higher temperatures are already in use.

  6. Too hot to grow wheat? WTF?! One of the largest wheat producing area’s is country Western Australia – check out the average tips in the “wheat belt” in WA

  7. What they’ll probably turn around and say, was that wheat production is 5.5% below what it would have been, except that would still only be a 10% drop in real terms (over 50 yrs), a figure that would have easily been compensated for by demand & pricing.

    You are quite right. Utter BS!

  8. The problem now appears to be that the wheat strains are so inbred people are experiencing wheat intolerance and are turning to other grains.

  9. “Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it,” says Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

    Obviously Frank Manthey has never visited the wheatbelt regions of inland New South Wales or Western Australia down here in OZ. Daytime temperatures in the month or so leading up to, and including harvest time, are typically in the 30 – 40 deg C range.

  10. I also plotted the global population vs. wheat production from 1961 to 2009 (extent of the wheat data) from the FOASTAT data, and they trend almost exactly, with Wheat production moving above the population line in 1979 and staying there.

  11. The drop is this year’s. Cold and wet in the UK has meant that the harvest was very poor and that Britain is net importing grain from Germany ( where the harvest was slightly down, caused by early year frosts).
    The droughts in the US and the heatwaves in Europe put paid to the maize harvests although paradoxiaclly wheat in the US was up.
    This is a good source

    http://www.uswheat.org/reports

  12. “wheat, corn, and rice …. All three are already suffering from climate change”

    Is that so? USDA says rice production is setting records in the USA and globally.

    http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/RCS-yearbook/RCS-yearbook-04-09-2012.pdf

    “In 2010/11, the U.S. produced a record 243.1 million cwt of rice, a result of a 16-percent increase in plantings.”
    “In the global market, expanded area boosted 2010/11 world production more than 2 percent to 453.2 million tons, the largest to date. ”
    ” Global rice trade in calendar year 2011 rose 10 percent to a record 35.1 million tons (milled basis), with Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for most of the import expansion. ”
    “U.S. 2010/11 Rice Plantings Were the Second-Highest on Record ”
    “Larger Crops in South and Southeast Asia Boosted Global Production in 2010/11 to a Record 449.8 Million Tons “

  13. There are too many idiots out there who think that people will only read the headlines, and wont bother to look up the facts to disprove them. Unfortunately, too many people prove them right.

  14. …Wheat production data for the period 1961-2010 are available from FAOSTAT and temperature data can easily be downloaded from Wood For Trees…

    Woodfortrees is down, and has been for some time now.

    Does anyone know why?

  15. This is really the most silly alarmism ever, because even if most rambling alarmists were right about AGW, there wouldn’t be a wheat problem, because enormous new areas suitable for wheat would open up in Canada and Siberia.

  16. OK, here we go.

    Medieval Climatic Optimum
    Michael E Mann
    University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
    ………….It is evident that Europe experienced, on the whole, relatively mild climate conditions during the earliest centuries of the second millennium (i.e., the early Medieval period). Agriculture was possible at higher latitudes (and higher elevations in the mountains) than is currently possible in many regions, and there are numerous anecdotal reports of especially bountiful harvests (e.g., documented yields of grain) throughout Europe during this interval of time. Grapes were grown in England several hundred kilometers north of their current limits of growth, and subtropical flora such as fig trees and olive trees grew in regions of Europe (northern Italy and parts of Germany) well north of their current range. Geological evidence indicates that mountain glaciers throughout Europe retreated substantially at this time, relative to the glacial advances of later centuries (Grove and Switsur, 1994)……………..

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/shared/articles/medclimopt.pdf

  17. These morons seem to think that *everything* bad is caused by climate change/global warming.
    But one thing is beyond dispute: global warming can drive people mad.
    Chris

  18. Truly the most tragic aspect of AGW is the reduction of intelligence in its hardcore believers.
    Hertsgaard’s pasta/wheat fear article is a great example of this reduction intelligence in action.
    Newsweek is no longer a serious news magazine, but one would expect that editors would edit for reality and facts, but as sufferers of AGW dementia, they are unable, apparently.
    The claims regarding the extinction of wheat and pasta are stupid on every level.

  19. the fact the big agris been pushing canola and corn rr gmo crud, and then add kyoto removing farmland use in aus as well, then prices for wheat were under the cost of oats canola etc until this year when decent prices began to be paid..
    the EXspurt is a drip indeed.

  20. woodfortrees (Paul Clark) says:
    December 13, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Folks, apologies for the WFT downtime, it was caused by an IP address allocation cockup at my hosting provider. Should be fixed now but it may take some time to propagate through DNS.

    Thank you Paul. Thank you, thank you. So many of us use your excellent resource that half our side of the Internet would be folded back upon itself if WFT truly fell over.

  21. What is the effect on wheat of an increase in minimum temperatures? I think pasta for the world will be safe. Here is a peer reviewed letter to Nature.

    Increased Australian wheat yield due to recent climate trends
    Nature – 01 May 1997- Neville Nicholls
    Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia

    The possibility that future climate change may affect agriculture has attracted considerable attention1,2. As a step towards evaluating such influences, the effect of climate trends over the past few decades3 needs to be assessed. Here I estimate the contribution of climate trends in Australia4,5 to the substantial increase in Australian wheat yields since 1952. Non-climatic influences— such as new cultivars and changes in crop management practices—are removed by detrending the wheat yield and climate variables and using the residuals to calculate quantitative relationships between variations in climate and yield. Climate trends appear to be responsible for 30–50% of the observed increase in wheat yields, with increases in minimum temperatures being the dominant influence. This approach should be applicable in other regions for which sufficient data exist.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v387/n6628/abs/387484a0.html

  22. We’ve all seen pictures of wheat harvest in progress, with huge combines cutting down vast acres of golden fields, but none of those pictures were taken in North Dakota.
    The ND growing season is too short for wheat to ripen on the stalk, so the wheat is swathed and wind- rowed, then after drying in the field, the rows are picked up via special attachments to the combines.

    Is anyone the least bit surprised anymore, by the agenda- driven pronouncements from academia?

  23. If you just take a look at the2004 book “Canicules et glacieres – Histoire humaine et compare du climat” (“Heat waves and glaciers: human and compared history of climate”), by the French renowned historian Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie, you will find a detailed analysis of climate from the middle 1330 until 1740, with ad accurate reconstruction (sometime at the “day by day” level) of cereal prices on the most important markets of the time, clearly showing the direct correlation between “bad” climate and agriculture during most of the LIA.
    This detailed analysis is a clear confirmation of the early book (1967 !) by the same Author, “Histoire du climat depuit l’an 1000” (“History of climate since 1000 AD”): the English edition (1973) of that book brings the evocative title “Time of feast, time of famine”: in fact, the new book shows clearly the equation: cold weather = famine; warm weather = feast.
    The conclusions of the new book are very sharp: in Europe, between 1300 and 1740, there’s been a lot of very severe food crisis (episodes of continental – scale famine that lead to the death by starvation of hundreds of thousands of people, sometime millions): well, almost 90% of this episodes were caused by COLD weather, just a few by hot weather.

    Another thing to remember: as clearly pointed out by Jared Diamond in “Guns, germs & steel”, the most common cereal grains have been “selected” from the corresponding natural species, by our ancestors, 5.000 years ago, in the Middle East; also the corn, it has been selected in Central America.
    In both cases, they come from very WARM places: do you know any edible vegetable, of relevant use, “born” in a COLD place ?

    Just my 2 cents…

  24. No need to look as far as Australia to see that high temperatures don’t hinder wheat production – Texas produces far more wheat than either of the Dakota’s. And it’ll take a heck of a lot of warming to get the Dakota’s even close to Texas temperatures.

  25. The Chinese have been making rice noodles for centuries.
    Seems like they invented them.
    But then the Italians invented a way to eat them by producing the fork.

  26. Silliest story I’ve seen … not only is wheat very successfully grown in very hot places in Oz, there are also millions of hectares of great farming land in places such as Belarus, Ukraine Russia, Mongolia etc which would only benefit from being a little warmer …. likewise Canada’s growing seasons would be extended.

    Just a headliner for simpletons.

  27. Here in the US we grow wheat across a variety of temperature zones, from Texas to North Dakota. During the summer, there has got to be close to a 20 degree temp delta from Texas to North Dakota and we have plenty of wheat. I think someone started early on their legal pot habit…

  28. Dario from NW Italy says:

    “In both cases, they come from very WARM places: do you know any edible vegetable, of relevant use, “born” in a COLD place ?”

    Yes. Rutabaga which is originally a Scandinavian coastal plant. And cranberries.
    Not exactly major food crops though.

  29. This is so foolish it should be shoveled with the remainder of the organic fertilizer used on wheat field. It frankly does not deserve serious or even satirical discussion.

  30. It would appear that wheat production in 2010 was indeed down on 2009 by about the stated percentage. Mainly due to a drop in production in Russia and Kazakhstan. (drought based)
    Luckily Brazil was up by 18%!! (Not that they are a real major producer but it does show that temp is not much of an issue).
    Wheat production has since gone up again and expectations are that total world cereal production is up by about 3% for this year over 2011.
    If it can grow well in Brazil and Australia some of the current wheat strains do not seem to be that much influenced by temperatures. No doubt that the strain in Canada might have trouble with the temp in Brazil but that is a variety issue and nothing that genetic tinkering can’t solve.
    I remember when I was living in the more northern parts of Europe that the wheat harvest tended to be below average if it was a colder then usual summer.
    So the temp link is weak at best and likely to be only at the variety level.
    We know that more CO2 will make it grow faster, there must be a yield per hectare statistic somewhere to show the relation between CO2, faster growth of the plant and bigger kernel size (or not for that matter).
    But what was that again: correlation is not necessarily causation. The same thing the realists claim will be thrown back at them now by the believers, after all it is heresy to claim that CO2 is actually good for something.
    Water and land use seem to be more of an issue.
    If the worldwide cereal crop is up it has to be growing somewhere.
    It would appear that the Italians can continue to enjoy pasta and pizza and Mc Donald’s will continue to serve wheat based hamburger buns rather then rice buns.
    It is likely that the professor wants to do more research on this ‘vital’ link between temp and wheat harvest size so we will hear more of this. Hunger makes the funds flow as much as climate research. Every agricultural researcher, nutritionist, dietician and what not will soon be on the AGW hunger bandwagon.

  31. woodfortrees (Paul Clark) says:
    December 13, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Should be fixed now

    Thank you! Sometimes people do not appreciate what they have until they lose it. By the way, the wti part still stops at August. Is this being discontinued?

  32. Uh, yeah, we gotta make the world colder so the plants will grow better. Everyone knows food grows better the colder it is. Makes perfect sense. Just because I got to eat fresh tomatoes all the way DEEP into October doesn’t mean a darn thing. Pole beans? E’t ‘em right off the vine all the way to Halloween. Heirlooms just keep blooming and blooming. I got 3 separate crops of beans and maters to come to harvest, but I’m sure this has nothing to do with the mild autumn this year. Nope. Nothing at all. By all means – make it colder, fret about the warmth. Meanwhile, I’m gonna go down and pull up another jar of beans. I’m loaded.

  33. Maybe we should stick with the only foods that the human genome is prepared to use for food. Namely meats, vegetables and fruits. The grains unleash a far worse insult on our bodies than they do our vehicles via ethanol.

    Fewer grains is a blessing – not a curse.

    And, er…. of course it won’t happen anyway.

  34. In an unrelated crop, now that WA and CO have legalized marijuana, what are the young growers going to discover? Maybe the wheat farmers will take notice. ;-)

    http://bestbudsgreenhousesupplies.com/co2.htm

    “Why should I care about co2? Outdoor carbon dioxide concentrations (400-600 ppm in spring/summer) are constantly being replenished by billions upon billions of plants, animals, and microorganisms. In the greenhouse or indoor growing area, plants are isolated and using co2 in large amounts. Levels of co2 can drastically drop below 400 ppm, which causes slow photosynthesis and growth. Low co2 levels fool your plants into thinking it’s fall or winter. Your plants will become stressed and will quickly stop growing. It is important for your growing area to maintain co2 concentrations of at least 400 ppm. Increasing co2 levels above 400 ppm promotes faster growth and sturdier, hardier plants. Higher co2 levels of 1000 to 1500 ppm increases photosynthesis dramatically. The faster the photosynthesis the faster water and nutrients are transformed into sugars and plant solids which result in higher yields of crops, fruit, or flowers. Having co2 equipment in your growing area gives you a definite advantage and should be among the serious grower’s tools.”

  35. Dario from NW Italy says:

    “…[D]o you know any edible vegetable, of relevant use, “born” in a COLD place ?”

    tty says:

    “Yes. Rutabaga which is originally a Scandinavian coastal plant…”

    Hey, he said edible.

  36. Out here in Kern County, CA we get yields that are 2-3 times that of wheat grown in Kansas, where 1/5 of the wheat comes from. This is largely due to irrigation. For those that have never been through Kern County, one of the descriptions that has NEVER been used for this place is “cold”. I think the wheat crops are going to do just fine.

  37. There are real threats to the staff of life, and they are indeed anthropogenic: agreements with China to legislate Agricultural Sustainability policies.
    For example, “EU, China agree on ag sustainability”

    http://www.seeddaily.com/reports/EU_China_agree_on_ag_sustainability_999.html

    “In the future, however, farmers will have fewer water and energy resources, meaning they will have to produce more with less.

    In response, the United Nations is advocating agricultural techniques that draw on “nature’s contribution to agricultural growth,” for example, soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests.

    The FAO report calls for a reduction in the massive amounts of waste in traditional agriculture and urges the introduction of “improved crop varieties that are resilient to climate change and use nutrients, water and external inputs more efficiently.”

    Why is China now asking for agreements from Europe to end the use of pest controls, high-yield cultivars, and chemical fertilizers? Does anyone honestly think this is to save the planet? Adam Smith said that droughts and war cause dearth, but it is the violence of “well-intentioned” governments that changes dearth to famine. There simply is not enough organic matter to fertilize depleted fields! Does anyone think that restricting water and reversing agricultural advancements is a good thing? If so, is it possible that there may be some unforeseen consequences of China’s agreement with Europeans? Any undesirable side effects? Any problems? Please.

  38. The Aussies have it. Back in the mid 80’s the CSIRO was predicting that global warming was coming and that it would be good for Australia.The prediction was that the wheat belt in the Eastern part of Australia would migrate in extent one hundred kilometers inland and the Western Australian wheat belt would diminish. The net effect would be total bumper crops for Australia.
    Australia, the granary of the empire in the nineteenth and twentieth century has through the work of the CSIRO plant breeding produced high protein, drought tolerant wheat. If it is not hot and dry at the harvest then the crop is wasted.On the land in wheatgrowing areas the farmers are harvesting twenty four hours a day under lights to get the wheat in.
    Not that any cooling or warming has occurred in the last sixteen years.
    If any professors are worried about the future of wheat in the US or Europe they only need to adapt like we have in Australia.The wheat certainly can.
    As for the present CSIRO, that is another story.

  39. In fairness to Mr. Hertsgaard, someone in another Internet forum I frequent suggested that maybe the article was just referring to durum production in North Dakota. The headline did mention the Bakken (mostly in North Dakota) and cited a durum expert (Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University) and durum is used in pasta.

    Durum is a cool-season crop and that warmer summers might have an impact on North Dakota durum production. Production and yield data are available from the North Dakota Wheat Commission. A cross-plot of North Dakota durum yield vs. seasonal temperatures does support the claim that warmer summers could cause a drop in durum yield…

    North Dakota Durum Yield vs. Seasonal Temperatures

    A 1 °F rise in average summer temperature could reduce durum yield by 1.6 bushels per acre. That’s in the neighborhood of a 5.5% decline.

    However, all of the “global warming” in North Dakota over the past 50 years has occurred in winter…

    North Dakota Seasonal Average Temperatures

    Winter warming has no correlation to durum yield (R² = 0.0194).

    Durum production and acreage planted increased from 1961-1981 and then have decreased since 1981, while yield has steadily increased.

    Total North Dakota wheat production has increased over the last 50 years.

    North Dakota Historical Wheat Production

  40. China has also gotten agreements with the USDA:

    U.S., China Sign Plan of Strategic Cooperation in Agriculture

    Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 16, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and China’s

    “Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu today signed an historic Plan of Strategic Cooperation that will guide the two countries’ agricultural relationship for the next 5 years. The plan was signed as part of the U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium held today at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The symposium focused on bilateral cooperation in the areas of food safety, food security and sustainable agriculture, as well as enhanced business relationships between the two countries.”

    These agreements do include the enforcement of “sustainable” agriculture. This includes organic and local-only policies, as well as scary bunkum water shortage models. While I lack the specifics of the agreement, I think China’s interest in “sustainable” farming policies for the western countries should be compared with EU agreement, and the fact that Chief Sha Zukan was the Secretary General of Rio +20.

  41. “A world without pasta seems inconceivable. Mac-and-cheese-loving children across the United States would howl in protest. Italy might suffer a cultural heart attack. Social unrest could explode in northern China, where noodles are the main staple.”

    “Howl in protest.” USA
    “Cultural heart attack.” Italy
    “Social unrest could explode.” China

    Hmmmm. You know? I think they might be trying to frighten us…

    These guys are getting pathetic.

    A lot of people have already pointed out that wheat grows in Australia. You know, the warm country. Aussies grow a lot of wheat and it does very very well. For those hard of understanding: A LOT OF WHEAT. IT GROWS BRILLIANTLY HERE IN SUNNY, WARM AUSTRALIA.

  42. borssyk says:
    December 13, 2012 at 11:41 am
    Here is link to the full article:

    http://homepage.agron.ntu.edu.tw/~menchi/2012%20%A7@%AA%AB%BE%C7%AFS%BD%D7/Climate%20Trends%20and%20Global%20Crop%20Production%20Since%201980.pdf

    borssyk says:
    December 13, 2012 at 11:53 am
    Supporting material for David Lobell’s article claiming 5.5% fall in wheat production:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2011/05/05/science.1204531.DC1/Lobell.SOM.REVISED2.pdf

    There’s nothing in either the paper or the supporting materials that supports Lobell’s assertion that “[A] mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production.”

    And the FAOSTAT data (Figure 1) clearly show that global wheat production and crop yield have more than doubled over the past 50 years.

  43. “Wheat is a cool-season crop.”

    My understanding is farmers plant ‘winter wheat’ because most of the precipitation in their area falls during the cool seasons.

  44. Whenever I see nonsense like this from the MSM, after I stop laughing, I think I should submit an article, filled with equations, graphs, and metric system units, that claims global warming is due to the polar bears, (PBGW),

    But, I would probably win a Nobel Prize, millions of dollars. Then my wife would be jealous of all the babes coming after me….

  45. “Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality, no doubt about it,” says Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

    Wheat apparently originated in the Levant in a part of the Fertile Crescent cutting across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, State of Palestine, Israel, Cyprus and Turkey. It will have to get damn hot in more northerly parts for us to see doomed wheat.

    http://www.sciencefromisrael.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,2,14;journal,12,44;linkingpublicationresults,1:300170,1

  46. I don’t suppose we’ll see this Manthey fellow coming here to defend his assertions against such a barrage of contrary evidence. Anyone know him?

    /Mr Lynn

  47. A hard freeze can kill a crop in one night. A growing season of hot temps still results in yield. Not great yield. But yield nonetheless. NOAA itself warns us of freezing temps. Cover your crops they say. Bring in your plants. Panic! Warning! …But hot days?… Eh. Put on cool clothes and keep your plants watered as best you can and you and your plants will survive. But one single night of freezing temperatures? The sirens scream out the warning!

    The pasta panic is for the weak minded. Now if it’s grapes that are in trouble…PANIC!

  48. And…. whatever happens, never underestimate the plant breeders:

    took them only 40 years to make Brazil the biggest soyabean exporter in the world, in spite of the fact the crop was not suited to those latitudes:

    http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1023%2FA%3A1024191913296

    Approximately forty years after commercial cropping of soybean in Brazil began, the total area under this crop has reached over 13 M ha with a mean productivity of 2400 kg ha–1. Soybean varieties introduced from the USA and varieties rescued from early introductions in Brazilian territory were part of the Brazilian soybean-breeding programme which spread the crop from high to low latitudes. Disease-resistance, pest-resistance, tolerance to low fertility soils, as well as production of plants with pods sufficiently high above the ground for efficient mechanical harvesting, were all aims of the programme.

    (Note also in the article the biological nitrogen fixing (BNF) capabilities which were also selected for.)

  49. @Dario from NW Italy:

    There are lots of cool climate crops. Pretty much any traditional food from a cold place. List way too long to put here, but for starters:

    Most of the cole family. Kale (and the related “Russian Kale” that’s really a kale hybrid more closely related to rutabaga) and cabbages, mustards and broccoli along with all the oriental “choy” and related (like Napa Cabbage – that’s really a leaf making kind of turnip family member).

    Then there’s the canola grown all over Canada (the “Can” in canola is from “Canada” where it was developed from rape seed – another cold area crop).

    Then there’s peas. Really don’t like the heat.

    Potatoes from the high cold Andes (that saved Europe’s butt in the LIA).

    Parsnips like to overwinter in the ground as do turnips (that are part of the cole family so already mentioned indirectly).

    Fava Beans ( I grow them in winter, though they will put up with summer heat if kept watered).

    I think carrots too, but I’m not sure.

    Spanish winter Black Radish. (and some of the oriental radishes – think Kim Che Fixings).

    Garlic, leeks, onions too…

    Oh, and chard and beets…

    Pretty good list here, past the hoop frame DIY greenhouse:

    http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/category/cold-season-crops

    Celery and mustard greens too (though mustards are in the cole family so already mentioned)

    Another list:

    http://www.sunset.com/garden/garden-basics/cool-season-crops-00400000042441/

    Buckwheat is a common ‘catch crop’ that’s very short season. There’s a lot of overlap between ‘short season’ and ‘cold season crops’. Note that buckwheat (the commercial kinds) originated in Russia:

    http://www.jeffersoninstitute.org/pubs/buckwheat.shtml

    I think I’ll stop here… but there are more…

    Why mention it? Partly because it’s important to know that we can shift to those as it becomes too cold to grow other things in any given area…

    Can’t end without mentioning that Barbarians (Hordes as in Hordeum) were named that by Romans as they were “Barley Eaters” (Latin name for Barley is Hordeum Vulgare…) Those were the people from the cold up north…

    http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Crops/Barley/Default.aspx

    Barley is widely grown in many climates of the world due to its WIDE ADAPTATION

    COLD TOLERANCE
    Spring barley has excellent cold tolerance
    Spring types are grown at HIGHER ALTITUDES than any other cereal
    Grown in upper plateaus of Tibet – Spring barley is grown farther north than any other cereal
    Some grown within the ARCTIC CIRCLE

    EARLY RIPENING
    Some barley varieties ripen earlier than any other cereal
    Barleys in the ARTIC CIRCLE ripen in 60-70 days

    There’s a reason Scotch Whisky is made from Barley… and that the English swapped from wine (warm grapes) to beer (cold barley) when the M.Warm Period ended and the L.Ice Age began….

    So there’s lots of foods from ‘cold places’ that can be grown in, well, cold places… (Though they often do well in warm – but not scorching hot – places too. For scorching hot places you use crops from those origins… Tepary Beans, Corn, Tomatoes… etc.)

    Basically, it’s the match of the plant to the temperature more than any one temperature being idea… Well, other than that nothing much really grows under snow…

  50. Luther Wu says:
    “December 13, 2012 at 6:11 am

    “We’ve all seen pictures of wheat harvest in progress, with huge combines cutting down vast acres of golden fields, but none of those pictures were taken in North Dakota.
    The ND growing season is too short for wheat to ripen on the stalk, so the wheat is swathed and wind- rowed, then after drying in the field, the rows are picked up via special attachments to the combines.”

    Luther, I don’t know where you are from but you are the one spouting nonsense. I live in North Dakota–have lived in the northeast south and southwest parts, and have worked in the wheat harvest and observed it for decades and windrowing wheat here is very rare.

    Ken Smith
    Ellendale ND

  51. Did they revise the article in Newsweek?

    I look at the web article at the Newsweek link and it says:
    “Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production compared to what would have occurred in the absence of global warming, according to a study published by David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment.”

    Thus seeming to add the text: “compared to what would have occurred in the absence of global warming” compared to what is quoted in the discussion of the article above

    This is what Lobell et al. appear to suggest in their paper, that production is reduced compared to their model. So it doesn’t matter that wheat production has increased, it hasn’t increased as much as the magical mystery model says it should have increased.

  52. For the general public’s information the following is from Wikipedia –

    Classes used in the United States:
    Durum – Very hard, translucent, light-colored grain used to make semolina flour for pasta & bulghur; high in protein, specifically, gluten protein.
    Hard Red Spring – Hard, brownish, high-protein wheat used for bread and hard baked goods. Bread Flour and high-gluten flours are commonly made from hard red spring wheat. It is primarily traded at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.
    Hard Red Winter – Hard, brownish, mellow high-protein wheat used for bread, hard baked goods and as an adjunct in other flours to increase protein in pastry flour for pie crusts. Some brands of unbleached all-purpose flours are commonly made from hard red winter wheat alone. It is primarily traded on the Kansas City Board of Trade. One variety is known as “turkey red wheat”, and was brought to Kansas by Mennonite immigrants from Russia.[35]
    Soft Red Winter – Soft, low-protein wheat used for cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and muffins. Cake flour, pastry flour, and some self-rising flours with baking powder and salt added, for example, are made from soft red winter wheat. It is primarily traded on the Chicago Board of Trade.
    Hard White – Hard, light-colored, opaque, chalky, medium-protein wheat planted in dry, temperate areas. Used for bread and brewing.
    Soft White – Soft, light-colored, very low protein wheat grown in temperate moist areas. Used for pie crusts and pastry. Pastry flour, for example, is sometimes made from soft white winter wheat.
    Red wheats may need bleaching; therefore, white wheats usually command higher prices than red wheats on the commodities market.
    …”

    The seven classes have two predominate types.

    Winter or spring wheats.

    Winter is planted in late September ( in Kansas) germinates then goes into dormancy when the ground freezes. In order for the plant to tiller then flower the next spring, the wheat must go through a cold event. If you planted winter wheat in the spring, it would not reproduce or head till the next spring after it has gone through a period of dormancy from freezing temps.

    The effect of a warmer environment would be to shift the growing region north,

    On the other hand, once the kernel is formed hot weather can adversely affect the quality of the endosperm since the amount of carbohydrates placed into the kernel is governed by warm temperatures. This could be overcome by breeding.

    The rest of the wheat would benefit from a longer growing season.

  53. Oh yeah, one more thingie – I am off to the Grain Science Dept @ Kansas State to use the flour milling equipment to mill malted barley for beer.

    The question is what will warmer temps to do to barley production. Barley loves cool temps when the endosperm is being formed in the milk stage.

    As for the desert durum in Kern County, CA – There is plenty of land in KS that makes 100 bushel/acre winter wheat without irrigation! It is only in the western 1/3 of the state where water is short enough to curtail cereal grain production.

    And yes the remnants of hurricanes are always welcome in Kansas.

  54. Wheat has more chromosomes, genes, and DNA than humans. Lotsa tricks and resources stashed away in that library …

  55. Taphonomic says:
    December 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm
    Did they revise the article in Newsweek?

    I look at the web article at the Newsweek link and it says:
    “Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production compared to what would have occurred in the absence of global warming, according to a study published by David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment.”

    Thus seeming to add the text: “compared to what would have occurred in the absence of global warming” compared to what is quoted in the discussion of the article above

    This is what Lobell et al. appear to suggest in their paper, that production is reduced compared to their model. So it doesn’t matter that wheat production has increased, it hasn’t increased as much as the magical mystery model says it should have increased.

    I should have screen-capped the entire article. My quoted passage was cut & pasted directly from the original version. However, even with the added caveat, Dr. Lobell’s assertion is patently idiotic. Since 1961, global wheat yield has had a very positive correlation with temperature. Yield has increased at a rate of 22,397 Hg/Ha per 1 degree C of warming since 1961.

  56. In Re; Ken Smith says:
    December 14, 2012 at 6:04 am

    In Re; Luther Wu says:
    “December 13, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Ken,

    Bet you never thought someone who’s been to Ellendale ND would be on this board. My family is from Bowdon and Sykeston. If you don’t know where that is; 180 rotation of Jamestown to Ellendale. Almost dead center of ND. Small world.

    If you are unfamiliar with a swather and a drapper combine head then you probably aren’t very old. That used to be the way of it, at least in central ND. Not so much any more, with better combines and genetics. I well remember the days of swatting wheat, leaving it lay a couple of weeks and then getting the combine all clogged up because it hadn’t sufficiently dried.

    Anyway, Luther had a valid point, until modern combines and growing techniques arrived.
    But they did use (and you still occasionally see it, even today) wheat being left in windrows and picked up with a drapper head latter on. Especially with a cold and wet spring. Luther; you are severely wrong. A lot of those pictures of combines running wing on wing and unloading on the go happen in North Dakota. Especially just west of Fargo on up to Grand Forks where the land is table top flat for miles on end.

    Next thought; As it is; wheat grows from Central Texas all the way up into mid-Alberta and Saskatchewan. Across to the west coast and east through the mid south and up into the great lakes region. There is no way on earth a one degree temperature difference matters to the wheat crop. None whatsoever. This professor of whatever it is knows not the first thing about wheat.

    I can refute the notion that wheat productivity has declined, on any basis you care to name; that is just a stupid assertion, easily dis-proven in any wheat harvesting region in the US. There may be some odd country out there in the world who’s wheat harvest has declined in the last 30 years, but they are far and away in the minority. In fact every nation with available data and level yields has also shows reduced fertilizer use during the intervals in which they show flat yield, according to a 2012 study out of Harvard. Revealing another situation in which policy goals are interfering with production levels. But there has been zero decline that I can determine.

    Where’d this guy get his PHD? A gumball machine?

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