Claim: Crop breeding is not keeping pace with climate change

From the UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS, where I’m not sure they have seen this graph:

us grain yields and temperature

Now, if only Africa could solve its political problems, get reliable energy, and reliable roads for transport…and they’d have the kind of success we enjoy in the United States.

UPDATE: Fred Berple notes in comments:

Maize production:

Malawi – 1961
815000 tons

Malawi – 2011
3699150 tons

so after 50 years of global warming, Malawi is producing more than 4 times as much maize.

http://www.foodsecurityportal.org/api/countries/fao-production-maize?order=__num_2011&sort=asc


Press release:

Crop breeding is not keeping pace with climate change

UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS

Crop yields will fall within the next decade due to climate change unless immediate action is taken to speed up the introduction of new and improved varieties, experts have warned.

The research, led by the University of Leeds and published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, focusses on maize in Africa but the underlying processes affect crops across the tropics.

A farmer in Malawi checks her maize crop that is struggling as a result of the worst drought in three decades. CREDIT Neil Palmer (CIAT)

A farmer in Malawi checks her maize crop that is struggling as a result of the worst drought in three decades. CREDIT Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Study lead author Professor Andy Challinor, from the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, said: “In Africa, gradually rising temperatures and more droughts and heatwaves caused by climate change will have an impact on maize.

“We looked in particular at the effect of temperature on crop durations, which is the length of time between planting and harvesting. Higher temperatures mean shorter durations and hence less time to accumulate biomass and yield.”

It takes anywhere between 10 and 30 years to breed a new crop variety and have it adopted by farmers. The rate at which temperatures are increasing across the tropics means that by the time the crop is in the field it is being grown in warmer temperatures that it was developed in.

By looking at a range of data on farming, regulatory policy, markets and technologies, the researchers developed average, best and worst case scenarios for current crop breeding systems.

The researchers found that crop duration will become significantly shorter by as early as 2018 in some locations and by 2031 in the majority of maize-growing regions in Africa. Only the most optimistic assessment – in which farming, policy, markets and technology all combine to make new varieties in 10 years – showed crops staying matched to temperatures between now and 2050.

The research team, comprising experts in agriculture, climate and social science, looked at the options for ensuring that crops can be developed and delivered to the field more quickly. These range from improved biochemical screening techniques to more socially-centred measures, such as improving government policies on breeding trials and farmers’ access to markets.

Dr Andy Jarvis, from CIAT (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture), said: “Investment in agricultural research to develop and disseminate new seed technologies is one of the best investments we can make for climate adaptation. Climate funds could be used to help the world’s farmers stay several steps ahead of climate change, with major benefits for global food security.”

The researchers have also proposed an alternative plan: use global climate models to determine future temperatures, then heat greenhouses to those temperatures and develop new crop varieties there.

Professor Challinor said: “The challenge here is in knowing what future emissions will be and ensuring that climate models can produce accurate enough information on future temperatures based on those emissions.

“At the Priestley Centre, researchers are working on these challenges by improving climate models and targeting their use directly at solving such problems.”

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136 thoughts on “Claim: Crop breeding is not keeping pace with climate change

  1. It’s too bad no one has ever studied what crop varieties are suited to different climate zones …

    • Yes, it’s too bad, because that’s all my father did for 55 years … although he may have been under-qualified since he only had two master’s degrees, and a PhD, but he never drank the Kool-Aid.

    • Ed Bo — Agriculture is weather and soil driven. Over the centuries of experiences, our forefathers evolved farming system technology that can adapted to soil & climate and climate change — climate change involves all parameters of climate, more particularly precipitation as this will modify other climate parameters in both space and time. This was a stable agriculture system. After 60s new technology, a mono crop-high yielding seed – chemical fertilizer- irrigation system changed the traditional system and increased the weather risk. Figure 1 presents impact of this system on yields, more particularly on maize and paddy. This was achieved under the high government subsidies in terms inputs and irrigation. Thus, around 30 to 50% of the production is going as waste and natural resources used to produce that much extra-production. We are simply looking at increasing the production but least bothered on the quality of food. This lead innumerable new diseases and drug manufacturing companies and hospitals and high level of pollution [air, water, soil, food]. Now GMO seed entered but this works under the same new technology only. This will benefit seed companies only with zero yield advantage and with highly unstable seed that needs modefication — Bt-cotton was modified three times in 13 years with poison potency level rising — Bt1 to Bt2 to Bt3. Here I want ask those who are in support of Golden Rice, to eat that rice and show the world and then ask others to eat the same. In India and China, under the traditional system the varieties developed are out yielding the Golden Rice.

      The two important periodic elements that affect development are temperature and photoperiod. In addition to these two, relative humidity, soil moisture, soil temperature, soil type, soil fertility, plant population, agronomic aspects are reported to affect the crop development and thereby crop growth.

      In African there are certain crops used as stapple food. For example Tef in Ethiopia and Cassava in Mozambique grown in a specified zones in the respective countries. In these zones weather and soil risks are very high.

      All these issues are discussed in myfollowing two books:

      1. Agroclimatic/Agrometeorological Techniques: As applcable to dry-land agriculture in developing countries, 1993, http://WWW.SCRIBD.COM/GOOGLE BOOKS, Book review appeared in Agric. For. Meteorol., 67:325-327 [1994]

      2. “Green” Green Revolution: Agriculture in the perspective of Climate Change, 2011, http://www.scribd.com/Google Books [under printing in a book form]

      • Well, aren’t you seeing a dark lining behind every silver cloud, even one that isn’t there.

        Seriously. I eat every genetically modified food I can count on, avoid “organic” like the plague (as any serious view sees that it has higher environmental impact, higher cost, and no benefit). The only reason I don’t routinely eat golden rice is that it’s not available at the supermarket. The claim that “traditional methods” work better is belied by the fact that modern methods produce better yields and make more money more consistently.

        And as for “traditional” farming being somehow weather proof, you are quite simply wrong. There are regular records back to Roman and Egyptian times all the way through the American West of routine crop failures and famines due to droughts or floods. Heck, read Laura Ingalls Wilder for a first hand account of drought on a frontier family, or the rise of Shaka Zulu for the account of how failures cause the rise of an empire. Then, you have the fact that deaths due to famine have dropped over 90% in the 20th century. Not death-rates but actual deaths. I just have no words to say.

        You are simply contrafactual on your base claims and willfully ignorant on your history

      • Good job Ben OF H. Most farmers and/or investors in crops buy crop insurance to mitigate changing weather. I grow my own crops and found the best yields come from 3 month old grass and leaves compost with just nitrogen. When stink and red suicide bugs attack, for water in the vegetable’s, I spray liquid seven to deter them for a few days. If you look at the conditions to be called organic, You will be surprised with what the can use. A high price for no improvement in flavor. Try indian purple tomatoes for a surprising taste.

      • Since You are such an expert on rice varieties you undoubtedly realize that golden rice can hardly be expected to compete with standard rice yields since it must also devote energy to beta-caroten production. It was meant to produce nutritionally superior rice, not more rice.
        By the way – do stay away from carrots they are chock-full of beta-caroten.

      • Some expressed with little knowledge on the subject — Vitamin A is present in some traditional cereals naturally. In Pearl Millet Vitamin A was developed using such crops without GM. British Medical Researchers presented a report saying Golden Rice Vitamin A content is a health hazard.

        When we make statements on production, we rarely take in to account the government contribution to development of infrastructure like irrigation projects or heavy subsidies on inputs. Also we rarely account their impact on environment, more particularly pollution and thus the investment to overcome this hazard. In USA Missipi River pollution from agriculture runoff created dead Gulf of Mexico.

        GMO work under this scenario only. While the natural food production system we get more quality food by including animal husbandry as part of agriculture syste. This provides the necessary inputs to agriculture also.

        Dr. Jeevananda Reddy

  2. This article is complaining about not ENOUGH crop breeding? Have they never heard of Monsanto, Round-Up resistant varieties (to save energy the farmers don’t have), and the NO-MORE-GMO movement? Geeeze!

    • Well we can’t have any more GMOs can we. Those starving people around the world, will just have to wait till nature’s trial and error process eventually comes up with some food for them. Or learn to do without.

      g

      • GM seed manufacturers trumpet: “We have a billion hectares now under GM cultivation!” Which is roughly 3.86 million square miles Or 2.47 million acres. Or 10 percent of the world’s arable farmland. There’s a reason other nations keep a stiff-arm in these demons’ faces. But not the United States. Where gratuities for elected seals climb quickly toward six figures when critical votes for things like, say, food safety for humanity come up. These one-eyed jacks have deliberately tried to force-feed this poison to America and the world for the past two decades, and worked and met and schemed and refined the technology to do it several decades before that.

        They keep trying to shove this crap down humanity’s throats with propaganda and praises from their paid propaganda puppets.

        Africa, Europe, Canada, Russia, Latin America, US. . . no one wants this spit. The sterilizing and sickening toxins they’ve spliced into humanity’s food are no accident. It’s a deliberate act to rid the planet of “useless eaters”; deemed so by a handful of self-anointed devils wadded in wealth who’re in the process of purchasing the world and its resources for themselves; “culling” humanity in the process. They’re evil to the bone. When the truth about this aberrant “food” is written, here’s how those wonderful folks feeding it to you keep dragging their intent behind the curtain to keep you from reading about it. Genetic Fallacy:

        How Monsanto Silences Scientific Dissent

        And here’s their end game: Planned Sterilization
        http://www.globalresearch.ca/genetically-modified-organisms-gmos-planned-sterilization-of-humanity/5511206

        You eat this spit, Smitty?

      • Interesting that I recognize one set of people on this debate, but not the other. Are we being targeted by an organized group, or did this just get linked to by anti-GMO site?

      • Wrusser:

        Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – Planned Sterilization of Humanity?

        This is the plot of Dan Brown’s (Da Vinci Code) Novel “Inferno”.
        An OK read.
        “Vector Virus” causes random sterility across all mankind.
        This novel is a work of FICTION.

      • It’s a conspiracy to contaminate our precious bodily fluids! First came the flouride. Now the GMO’s. It’s the lizard people, I tell you, the LIZARD PEOPLE!

      • george e.smith — W are producing more than what we needed. FAO reported that around 30% of it is going as waste. Reasons are money that vary with country to country. The figure is 40-50% for India. In developing countries, the main problem is poor transport facilities make them to transport excess production zones to deficit production zones; there are no sufficient storage facilities to store what hey produce. These are practical problems. These will be possible with good governance. We rarely find such governments.

        Some countries dump excess production in to sea to balance the price market.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Haven’t you heard? The way the eco-hippies talk, Monsanto has a whole factory whose only job is to daily punch puppies and kick kittens.

      • And the eco-hippies also convniently ignore the fact that all our food crops, plant and animal, are the result of breeding, the old-fashioned name for genetic modification.

      • In the old days, they would expose seeds to known mutagens, then examine the resultant crops to see if any of the resulting mutations were usable.

    • Well I used to work for Monsanto, in their Central Research Laboratories, near St Louis MO. Actually near Lambert Field where McDonald Aircraft used to be, making F-4 Phantoms.

      No I didn’t work on anything chemical, just electronics (for process control).

      Monsanto in those days was one of the most ethical companies one could ever wish for.
      Their first chemical product, made right there in St Louis (maybe East St Louis) was Sacharin; the pink plastic sugar substitute, with the funny aftertaste. After 100 years or so, it is still the only plastic sugar that has never been linked to any form of sickness or medical problem, other than it tastes funny.
      They also make Aspirin; in those days they made 85% of the world’s Aspirin. Yes it’s exactly the same stuff as the expensive Bayer Aspirin, but made by a better cheaper process. I used to have an aspirin tablet about 4 inches in diameter, that I could whittle a small chip off if I wanted to. They sold aspirin by the rail car load.

      They also make Nylon, which is a Dupont invention. Once again, Monsanto makes a better nylon by a cheaper process, starting with different feedstocks from the patented Dupont process. Well I imagine those patents are all long gone.
      Monsanto makes Skydrol; you all know what that is. It is the non flammable hydraulic fluid, that in those days was used in about 100% of all commercial airliners. Don’t know if any of these things are current situations.

      Their patented GMO seeds, are protected for a purpose. They are sterile, to prevent them from getting loose in the environment and altering other things not intended. That’s why farmers have to buy new seed every year.

      I currently have no connection with Monsanto whatsoever, unless my investment guy has a fund that owns Monsanto Stock. Their central engineering Research Building in St Louis County (maybe Creve Couer) looks like a big gold brick. The glass wndows are gold plated to keep heat in or out of the building. You can’t see in those windows, it just looks like a solid lump of gold. Inside, you aren’t even aware of any color to the windows; well hardly any.

      As for Roundup I use it where I need to use it, and have never poisoned anything good with it yet.

      I’m about to use it to get rid of all the broad leaf weeds that my next door neighbor has deliberately cultivated and spread them to the whole block of houses.

      I know it is fashionable to bash Monsanto. Well ignorant people go off at anything that they know nothing at all about.

      G

      • I should add, that the next lab along the hall from our electronics lab was a “cooking lab”. The chemists in there kept on preparing batches of cookies, which they then brought over to our lab for taste testing. They were trying to make tasty edibles that had absolutely no food nutritional value whatsoever, but tasted good like a cookie should.

        Well they were developing products for all of those fat Americans, who can’t stop eating. Some of the cookies tasted great.

        No idea what marketable products they ended up with.

        G

      • Taste tests are not what I need to see before I can feel justified in speaking to the safety of specific GMOs, george. Just sayin’, ya know?

      • Their patented GMO seeds, are protected for a purpose. They are sterile, to prevent them from getting loose in the environment and altering other things not intended. That’s why farmers have to buy new seed every year.

        Patently untrue ;-)

        Biosecurity Tasmania report volunteer GMO canola plants are still turning up 15 years after the trial.

        http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity/product-integrity/gene-technology/former-gm-canola-trial-sites-audit-reports

        Earlier this year, an Oregon farmer discovered wheat growing in his field that had been genetically engineered to be resistant to the weed-killer glyphosate. Months later, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is still trying figure out how the wheat got into the field, Nature reported.
        Genetic tests by the USDA determined that the wheat matches MON71800, also called Roundup Ready wheat, a glyphosate-resistant wheat developed by biotech company Monsanto. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for growth in the U.S., although Monsanto did field trials of its Roundup Ready wheat in 16 states including Oregon between 1997 and 2005.
        Upon hearing of the contaminated wheat field, South Korea and Japan initially halted imports of US wheat, but South Korea has now resumed them. Tests indicate that the US wheat supply is generally free of genetically modified plants.

        http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/36582/title/Escaped-GM-Wheat/

      • Myth: Monsanto Sells Terminator Seeds

        Myth: Monsanto sells “Terminator” seeds.

        Fact: Monsanto has never commercialized a biotech trait that resulted in sterile – or “Terminator” – seeds. Sharing the concerns of small landholder farmers, Monsanto made a commitment in 1999 not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops. We stand firmly by this commitment, with no plans or research that would violate this commitment.

        http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/terminator-seeds.aspx

      • Taste tests are not what I need to see before I can feel justified in speaking to the safety of specific GMOs, george. Just sayin’, ya know?

        But it is putting your money where your mouth is.

      • They are sterile, to prevent them from getting loose in the environment
        ==============
        that cannot be true, because Monsanto has been suing farmers in Canada for using seeds that have been cross pollinated from other famers that are using “round-up ready” rapeseed.

        This is truly a miscarriage of justice. In effect a bull has wandered into your field and impregnated all your cows. Monsanto then claims ownership of all the calves because of their patents on the bull.

        This overturns centuries of common law, where the owner of the cow owned the calves, and it has ruined more than a few farmers.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Schmeiser

      • Not knowing all the details of the suits Monsanto has brought, It’s certainly conceivable to have some unethical farmers “accidentally” plant some GMO seeds next to another field not seeded with purchased Monsanto seeds and, well, “Gosh, I just don’t know how those traits cross pollinated into my field that I don’t have to pay royalties on…”

      • ferdberple: Percy Schmeiser was a friend of mine when he was the Mayor of Bruno, Saskatchewan and my firm was doing water and wastewater treatment facilities for the Village. A very nice man caught up in a complex messy lawsuit.

      • I only worked for Monsanto from June 1964 to about July 1967.

        I have no knowledge of what policies they adopted in 1999.

        G

  3. “Higher temperatures give shorter durations ” BS. Reality check . Try frost, you nitwit.

    • It does seem odd that they talk about Maize and ‘days’ without mentioning degree-days. The lifeblood of maize growing is the number of degree-days it takes to create a ripe crop.

      Is everyone reading aware that if the temperature is higher, generally speaking, the degree-day target is met sooner? That is why it grows so well in Illinois above 100 f.

      • AND the increased CO2 makes this more of a sure thing. Fancy that, CO2 making things better!

  4. Why would we need new breeds?
    If the climate warmed to that of the Medieval Warm Period, we could just use the original seed stocks.
    Breeds that are not currently in commercial use as the weather is too cold to get best yield.

  5. Oh, bullshit. Even some ardent climate changers have noticed the CO2 enhanced greening of Earth with faster plant growth. And NASA satellites have mapped it. Plant scientists are skilled at breeding new food crop varieties both the old fashioned way and through GMO techniques, and existing varieties for different climate zones are known.

  6. The problem (generalized): “climate change will have an impact on maize” (There’s a surprise because climate never changed before.)

    The solution:”crops [that] can be developed and delivered to the field more quickly … improved biochemical screening techniques [and] improving … breeding trials and farmers’ access to markets…

    The Priestley Centre heroically confronts the problem by: “improving climate models.”

    Who’d ever think to make up this stuff?

    Desperate mother: my children are starving because there’s no food!
    Priestley Centre functionary: We can help by modeling traffic!

  7. A farmer in Malawi checks her maize crop that is struggling as a result of the worst drought in three decades
    =============================
    so 30 years ago they had a worse drought. that was when temperatures were lower than now.

    so droughts are not as bad as they were before global warming..

    • Ther is always a drought in Southern Africa during an El Niño. The “thirty-years-ago” drought they are talking about is the one connected with the big 1982-83 Niño.

  8. Since temperatures cannot significantly increase in the tropics (and the IPCC agrees)…this really can’t be a significant issue.

  9. >>>Dr Andy Jarvis, from CIAT (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture), said: “Investment in agricultural research to develop and disseminate new seed technologies is one of the best investments we can make for climate adaptation. <<< must in the pay of big seed!

  10. ..Why bother actually growing corn ?? We can just make “models” of growing corn….and then make “models” of us eating the “models” of the grown corn !! D’oh !!

    • According to Elon Musk the odds we’re in base reality and not living in a computer simulation is only “one in billions.” So, if you believe the snake-oil salesman, it’s all computer models anyway.

      • Evan,

        The computer is too dusty and the fan isn’t cooling adequately; the computer generated heat is mussing up the programs’ sensor input. The warming that we are feeling is from exterior reality crossing over into our program, but the program assumes that the sensors are accurate … and they aren’t. The program can’t figure out why and it is continuously to trying to re-calibrate itself, leading to more and more anomalies.

        Pretty the maintenance guys will clean out the dust and the cooling system regain its original efficiency, Let’s hope that the computer program doesn’t keep adjusting the data the wrong way, creating an even bigger lag cycle, after the dust clears.

  11. experts in agriculture, climate and social science

    Pffffft! What, exactly, would be the contribution from social scientists?

    as early as 2018 in some locations

    Well now… a testable hypothesis in only two years! Did the specify exactly what “some locations” refers to?

    • Some locations will be those locations that show what the authors predicted.
      Locations that do not show what the authors predicted, will not be the “some locations” you are looking for.

    • “as early as 2018 in some locations

      Well now… a testable hypothesis in only two years!

      That’s what I was thinking, too.

      I guess the author didn’t get the memo about extending one’s CAGW predictions out as far as possible into the future to avoid embarassment.

  12. Complete garbage. Maize is one of the few C4 crops. See Dr. Michael Moore’s previous guest post. And Cimytt (Borlaug’s Institute) has been working for decades on drought resistant Africa variants, since the MAM monsoon rain is 1-2 months shorter than the Maize ideal. See ebook Gaia’s Limits for many details and references.

  13. The growing zones are moving north. With new strains of corn and slightly longer growing season, farmers are now growing corn in North Dakota, which was pretty rare 40 years ago.

    • katphiche: My uncle used to breed plants for Agriculture Canada. He spent the summers in Indian Head, Saskatchewan and the winters south of the Salton Sea in southern California. They grew two seed crops in each zone, breeding for specific characteristics. So they grew things in radically different areas thousands of kilometres apart. All this talk of plants marching north with the “climate” just makes me laugh. Maybe there is an effect but lots of plants can do just fine in radically different “Climate Zones”.

      • Interesting. A distant cousin’s father bred spuds at UofSask. The Patterson potato is still popular.

  14. Key phrase: “Climate funds could be used to help the world’s farmers stay several steps ahead of climate change, with major benefits for global food security.”

    This press release is about money, not facts, not reason.

  15. AW, your graph of US production is quite revealing, especially when extended to FAO world yields per unit area crop land. Wheat plateaued globally, not just US, as Norman Borlaug’s green revolution spread. Maize (corn) increases with US GMO, but not in Europe or China where GMO is generally prohibited. Rice has plateaued in best practices US, Japan, and China, but can continue to expand yields in less than best practices rest of SE Asia. The big issues are not plant breeding keeping up with climate change. They are the root/shoot limits of plant breeding diminishing returns yields given arable land limits and the global spread of best ag practices. EBook Gaia’s Limits delves into the complicated fact details.
    The US chart post 2000 foreshadows much. None good, and completely different than CAGW.

    • Some of the yield plateau is due to practice, with low-till and no-till and less intensive use of fuel. It’s hard to push yields when diesel is at $4.00 a gallon. We operate 7 sections in central Michigan and could easily push our yields by 15% with available methods, including additional side-dressing of nitrogen. But 5 years ago that would have cut into the bottom line in a huge way due to fuel and N costs. Right now we don’t do it because we’re operating with different equipment, and the life-cycle of the hardware is too long to make an adjustment. Don’t blame agricultural technology, blame the bozos in Washington for the 70 year failure to have a coherent energy policy.

      • Mark – exactly right – around where I live, everyone has cut back on fertilizer. When I stopped farming my few acres quite some time ago, I had cut my fertilizer application in half as I got the same bottom line after accounting for lost yield and fertilizer costs. It came down to a cost versus yield calculation.

  16. Does anyone have access to satellite temperature data for that particular region?

    I suspect it would show a general rise from 1970-1990, then a sharp dip in 1991, climbing to around 1998 then levelling off.

  17. This makes me think of the PFRA. It was a response to the Dirty Thirties on the Canadian Prairies. It has been said that the PFRA prevented the Canadian prairies from becoming a desert. The US had a similar response starting even sooner than in Canada.

    An environmental disaster can be dealt with. The alarmists never admit that.

  18. This is straight out of the ex-Soviet Union propaganda handbook, only the Soviet propagandists inflated crop numbers, while US climate propagandists make them worse than they really are…. Go figure…

    The World Bank’s (hardly a bastion of Capitalism) data on crop-yields/country shows an astronomical rapid increase of crop yields since 1981:

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.YLD.CREL.KG

    If you click on ANY country on the list, it’s obvious there has been a phenomenal increase of crop yields all around the globe over the past 35 years…

    The irony is that the CO2 fertilization effect has also contributed substantially to the growth of crop yields.

    What’s next? Do government propagandists start “adjusting” past crop yield data to match CAGW’s doom and gloom predictions? They’ve “adjusted” global raw temperature data, what’s to prevent them from “adjusting” other datasets to achieve their agendas?

    In the immortal words of Alex Epstein, “F*CK OFF, Fascist.”

    • If countries routinely exaggerate disasters to increase the amount of aid they will receive, I doubt they will have any compunction about fiddling with crop yield data. Potential climate change payments are a big incentive to lie about anything and everything.

      I once spoke with a zookeeper who went to Kenya for several weeks to volunteer with a wildlife NGO (one of a very few that is reputable and somewhat effective). She was from Iowa, so she knew corn. She said that the government provides or subsidizes certain varieties, but those varieties do not grow well in much (if not most) of the country. She had some pictures of subsistence farms that grew these varieties, and they were about half the height that corn should reach at maturity. I suspect that most problems with crop yields are due to a mismatch of varieties or crop types and the local environment.

  19. Spellcheck, Mister Anthony… “Fred Berple” should read “Ferd Berple”! Gotta get the peops names right you know (don’t want to rain on ferd’s 15 minutes of fame)…

    • Check the yields from Zim farmers translocated to Mozambique. It is a similar story. Best farmers in the world (sorry USA).

  20. According to IPCC and everything else I’ve read, global warming has/is/will affect polar regions the most and tropical regions the least. This in fact seems to have been the case in the late 20th-century warming where we saw a conspicuous reduction in the number of -40° days in northern Canada. They had started to reappear in larger numbers until the last El Niño and I look forward to some nice chilly mornings again soon (especially when viewed through my kitchen window)

    So what does Africa have to worry about? Other than bad governments, inter-tribal warfare, overpopulation and islamic terrorism of course. Oh yes, they are going to experience droughts and famines and Climate Change will be the culprit. We all know that there were never droughts and famines in Africa before the demon CO2 destroyed the Arcadian paradise, don’t we?

    • I don’t know where the idea that Africa is overpopulated comes from but the African continent is bigger than the USA, China, India and a large chunk of Europe combined. Its population is about 8% of the world total – overpopulated, No!

    • DHR— it’s REAL easy to get the required results when NOAA manipulates the raw temperature data…

      Here is a graph from NOAA’s own website showing how much they have manipulated the US raw temperature data to get the results they need to keep this CAGW hype going:

      Congress has issued a FOIA request to NOAA for all internal correspondence regarding NOAA’s questionable raw temperature adjustments (in particular the recent KARL2015 adjustments)…

      NOAA has refused to comply with this Congressional FOIA request, so they are technically in Contempt of Congress.

      • There is PM-AM TOBS bias to contend with. That would be a warming adjustment.

        As to whether the — amount — is a correct result is another question, entirely.

    • “not the 4C or 5C shown in the plot above” ?????

      Which plot is that?

      The yellow line up the top shows about a 1 degree difference between 1960 and 2000

    • And I do wish people would label things properly.

      The graph is not showing the “temperature”, its showing the “temperature anomaly” against some period, which is undefined on the chart.

      • Actually, it’s not an anomaly. It is adjusted data minus raw. That would give the exact same answer in either absolute or anomalous terms. (Just algebra, as Mosh says.)

  21. “Higher temperatures give shorter durations ”
    The corn is growing too fast. Perhaps they are talking about when you estimate your growing season and match that to the number of days printed on the seed bag. Your lowers number would grow faster to be mature in time. If you guess shorter than the observed growing season, you get less yield. Yes, the corn stops growing, at least in Minnesota, then it starts drying on the stalk, to get its moisture content to, it will not spoil in the bin.

  22. I had frost on my golf course this past Saturday in Rosebud Alberta at the same time the weatherman was reporting a temperature of 7 degrees celsius in Calgary about 45 miles away as the crow flies. Now if our actual temperature was -1.6 and Calgary was 7.4 that is 9 C or 15 F .We are talking a big enough difference to start talking about fraud. It is hard to argue with frost folks it kills your lettuce.

    • Minimum temperatures vary strongly over short distances, particularly on windless nights (which is when frost happens). If you live in a hollow the temperature can easily be 5 C lower than a few miles away, or 10 C less than in a big city like Calgary with UHI.

    • You can probably have a 5 C° difference between the standard two meter height and on the ground if the terrain is flat. I was on a weather mail list for a while that had someone who frequently posted his weather shelter temperature and his garden ground level temp. He frequently had big differences.

  23. Professor Challinor from the, er, “‘Priestly’ international Centre in Leeds,
    re the problem of rising temps contra crop production … But It’ll be okay
    because ‘Priestly’ researchers are working on climate models to address
    the problem. )

  24. Crop yields are going to plummet in Europe and it has nothing to do with climate change, but rather another green policy and push to ban the use of Glyphosate. The ban is very little to do with science but the listing of Glyphosate as a possibly carcinogenic (although unlikely) by WHO gave a political window for the push. The issue has split the farmer groups with some using it as a push about a point of sale difference that the producers in Europe can use to keep cheap food imports out. So farmer position on the matter depends on how reliant you are on Glyphosate for your crop.

    So the prediction will probably come true at least in Europe but have nothing to do with climate change but connected by green politics.

  25. Oh yes. How many times I have heard the same spiel form agricultural scientists throughout my 50 yr career in farming. They have to find something new and ‘improved’.

    By coincidence the Economist newspaper run a special report last week on the same issue, from a global perspective: “will we feed the masses in 50 years time?” This is all rather ironical as they completely missed the point that economics is the greatest force behind yield and overall production.

    My guesstimate is that the world’s farmers (including Africans) could easily lift production by 30% within 3 years should profits allow it. Most of us know what to do and what to use to lift yields and production. In most cases the limiting factor is fertilizer. This is the first input to be cut when profits drop. A second thing that happens when profits rise is that marginal land is converted or more fully utilised. Aside from intensively farmed areas in Europe there are huge tracts of underutilised land around the world – especially in Africa. There are also large areas of land situated where irrigation would be an option. But first must come profits!

    As for weather, drought and climate change: show me a country where current drought and annual rainfall over a decade is worse than other periods on record. Sorry, big continents have big droughts.

    • Mostly agree, but availability of water is much more important than fertiliser. It’s where a substantial portion of the increased yields have come from over the last century. A hydrologist told me that we now sequester ~50% of rainfall to grow crops.

      • It’s a water planet. It’s not completely clear how much rain falls at sea (if you thought sea surface temperatures were hard to measure, try rainfall! and TRMM doesn’t observe the polar regions) but it’s definitely a lot. Nor do we *sequester* rainfall: if water falls on crops, it runs off into streams, goes into groundwater, or is transpired right back, just as it would if other plants were there. It’s still part of the water cycle. Crop-land is about 11% of the global land area. I find it difficult to believe that even 50% of the
        rain that falls on land falls on that 11%, it’s not even 50% of the land we use for crops+forests+pastures+
        other non-crop farming.

    • But first must come profits!
      ======================
      no doubt some politician will get the bright idea that $100 / bushel corn would help boost production and bring in a lot of votes from the corn belt.

      maybe if we could find a way to use all the excess corn, maybe for example find a way to burn it up in cars, that would help boost the price.

    • Nor do we *sequester* rainfall

      Hydro Tasmania is the largest water manager in Australia. If they aren’t sequestering rainfall, where do you think the water to power the electricity generators comes from? The sky? Oh wait, that is where the water comes from. But I thought that’s what we call rainfall. Ever hear of the Aswan Dam in Egypt that sequesters all of the water of the longest river in the world?

  26. Only one possible answer…we must immediately create more CO2 to feed the plants, as that is what they use to grow healthy.

  27. Well, a study of soybean yields showed greatest improvement at the equator, and US studies that show grain temperature and drought tolerance is increasing.

    Further more CO2 increases temperature and drought tolerance.

    Something has to be done to debar from grant access the scientists that crank out these vaporware studies.

  28. As has been pointed out in times past people learnt what were reliable grain crops for their locale. Probably best shown by Dr Johnson (source Wikipedia).

    Oatmeal has a long history in Scottish culinary tradition because oats are better suited than wheat to the country’s low temperatures and high humidity. As a result, oats became the staple grain of Scotland. The ancient universities of Scotland had a holiday called Meal Monday to permit students to return to their farms and collect more oats for food.

    Samuel Johnson referred, disparagingly, to this in his dictionary definition for oats: “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” His biographer, James Boswell, noted that Lord Elibank was said by Sir Walter Scott to have retorted, “Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?

    • My love of oatmeal must come from my 1/128th or 1/256th Scottish ancestry. ;) I should really refigure those numbers.

      I read a while back that one of the problems with food self sufficiency in Africa was the switch to “Western” crops that grow best in more temperate zones. If the traditional crops like millet were grown, crop yields would be higher and more food would be available for the local populations.

      An article in WaPo several years ago bemoaned the insufficiency of food in many African countries. A former aid worker wrote to the editor and informed them that the front page picture of the mother whose children did not have enough to eat showed the mother sitting under a native fruit tree. According to the worker, many native foods were being shunned in favor of “Western” foods, resulting in artificial shortages. She claimed that proper utilization of local wild food sources would substantially decrease hunger.

      • Zimbabwe is the classic example of how to turn a food exporting country into a food importing country.

        We saw the same thing when we lived in PNG. Some Australian or Kiwi would be living in PNG, with a large thriving dairy farm. Papua New Guinea is about 10 S latitude, in the heart of the tropics. So a dairy farm in these conditions is quite an accomplishment.

        The locals, seeing the rich white man would want to rich as well. They would think, well if the white man can do it, so can we. After all, the cows do all the work. And the white man and his family would be driven from the land through threats, harassment and often times much worse. Much worse. And a couple of years later the dairy farm would be bankrupt, the cows eaten for food and the land taken over by squatters and subsistence farmers.

        Until within just a few years PNG went from being self sufficient in milk to a net importer. Repeat this across a wide range of industries and you have Zimbabwe.

    • Rather confused by this since wheat and a few others can be grown over the winter and oatmeal is a spring only crop.

  29. “At the Priestley Centre, researchers are working on these challenges by improving climate models and targeting their use directly at solving such problems.”

    They should rather concentrate on improving their low level research skills.

    • It’s about fixation on and attribution to one factor while excluding (or “accommodating”) all others.

      You can “prove” geocentrism: Just take one of those mechanical solar-system models and let it spin as designed — but hold the earth in a fixed place.

      Jim Dunnigan’s Wargame Trick?

  30. …Now, if only Africa could solve its political problems, get reliable energy, and reliable roads for transport…and they’d have the kind of success we enjoy in the United States….

    You know, I’m not all that sure that Africa has ‘political problems’.

    That used to be the standard belief back in the 1960s, when everyone chanted “if only Africans behaved like the West they would be rich..”. But today, I can’t see much difference between African and Western politicians.

    It’s a shame. The West raised itself by its own bootstraps. During the Industrial Revolution, British merchants needed better communications and more reliable transport, so they built the canal network, then the railway network, and the telegraph network, and improved roads. All paid for by commercial profit. In the last half of the last century, the big charities and Western governments tried to emulate this advance by donating aid to Africa, and instead of a commercial infrastructure being built, we ended up with a structure of dependency and bribery, which grew up to distribute this largesse.

    Which is now what we have amongst politicians of all flavours, all around the world….

    • But today, I can’t see much difference between African and Western politicians.

      Except for the firing squads.

      Seeing as how there’s “no difference”, I’ll take the latter, please.

      • Except for the firing squads.
        =================
        The only way you can remove a corrupt bureaucracy. Politicians you can vote out, but the bureaucrats will never fire one of their own, lest it set a dangerous precedent. the incompetent bureaucrat is simply given a different job, where they can do no harm. After all, it isn’t like you need to turn a profit.

  31. Pot meet Kettle. I had to laugh at the sentence “Now, if only Africa could solve its political problems, get reliable energy, and reliable roads for transport…and they’d have the kind of success we enjoy in the United States.” It was either laugh or get annoyed. I live in Africa, and moved here from the USA. I guess it depends on ones metric of “success”. Of course there’s sweeping problems and atrocities in Africa. Yet the USA (single nation) is not exempt from endemic problems either (e.g. http://tinyurl.com/m7ev2k6) and not a shining star of success. Lastly, Trump as the USA’s first African president? https://youtu.be/2FPrJxTvgdQ

    • You site a comedy show for substantiation and expect people here to take you seriously? I don’t believe ANYTHING you said, Mr. Propaganda ; )

  32. Those red and blue lines in the graph look awfully like the carbon dioxide curve don’t they just.
    Naaaaaaah, no possible connection.

    Also, is it not a wonder to anyone how ‘rich’ (as in lotsa money) countries are places with ‘rich’ (as in lotsa fertility) soils? No conceivable connection or way that would work??
    Think about what defines a ‘rich’ soil.
    Of course, no-one got rich by spending money so is it inconceivable that that (money) richness came from exploiting the soil/dirt – just the same way as fossil fuels are exploited = used and not replaced.
    Once you’ve defined what rich dirt is, is it *that* big a leap to say that its exploitation is what is causing CO2 levels in the sky to rise?
    Blaming fossil fuels is the easy way out – the way that lazy people, people who can’t be bothered to think, people who don’t like ‘awkward’ questions and people who will lay the blame, endlessly, on someone else.
    People who are feeding themselves, on contemporary doctor’s recommendation every 2 hours, a depressant substance.
    Carbohydrate
    And what else do depressed people do, they panic easily, they have an over-active startle response.
    Climate Alarmism anyone????

    No-one will want to know, because that really is a difficult question. Its so easy, and the modern way, to hypocritically hide behind the lie that ‘you care’

  33. “The challenge here is in knowing what future emissions will be and ensuring that climate models can produce accurate enough information on future temperatures based on those emissions.”
    Yes. Predicting the future is the challenge. Which is something climate models have never been able to do regardless of “emmissions”, because they are fatally flawed. Because climate, unfortunately for them doesn’t care one whit what “emissions” are.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

  34. What a goddamed joke! A map of crop distributions in the U.S. shows that sorghum, like corn, a C4 plant, thrives in much hotter and drier climates than does corn. The protein and carbohydrate content is very similar to that of corn, so if it gets a lot warmer (questionable in the tropics) and drier (also questionable), farmers will simply switch from corn to sorghum. Big processors like ADM will simply change their technology a bit, and the world’s excessive food production will continue. You could even turn grain sorghum into ethanol to keep the price up, which is why we burn up half of our corn every year (which amounts to 4% of world grain production–not a small fraction).

  35. Editors eye. Usual excuses. But the article includes the sentence: “The rate at which temperatures are increasing across the tropics means that by the time the crop is in the field it is being grown in warmer temperatures that it was developed in.”
    Should the final that” be “than”?

    Ian M.

  36. In all the fuss about GMOs and CAGW scaremongering you are missing the point of this paper: The CGIAR want their slice of any climate change money going around.

    The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research is a global network of research centres which each have a focus on a particular set of crops or an agro-cimatic region (CIMMYT – maize and wheat, CIP – potatoes, CIAT – Tropical agriculture etc.). They get most of their funds from national and international donors and every year there is another big scramble for the next chunk of funding. The World Bank houses the secretariat and they have bought into the climate change narrative in a big way (probably because the WB itself is controlled by national donors) therefore the CGIAR has to get onto the same bandwagon or lose out to groups who toe the line.

    I don’t know the Leeds group, but all of the supporting comment was from CIAT and you can bet that there is a lot of back-scratching going on.

    Personally, I would rather see this money go to plant breeding than to stupid anti-CO2 programs as there are likely to be some positive outcomes, especially for farmers in developing countries where there isn’t enough of an agricultural industry to attract the commercial sector.

  37. I was interested to see the old canard about Monsanto suing Canadian farmers for incidental crop contamination. As it happens I read the details of the case. And it was pretty straightforward. Incidental wind contamination would have happened primarily at the edges of the fields, and in a fairly small percentage of the plants. The actual percentage something over 50%, and throughout the fields. In other words, the farmers were lying about it being accidental, and the judge understood that.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc_v_Schmeiser

    • Wind carries GM pollen record distances:

      Pollen from a genetically modified grass has blown on the wind and pollinated other grasses up to 21 kilometres away, says a new study. This distance is “much further than previously measured”, say the authors, and is thought to be a record for any GM pollen.
      ….
      Watrud’s team found extensive gene contamination within 2 km downwind of the experimental plots. But some pollen went much further. Contaminated grass seeds turned up across 310 square km, with the most distant find 21 km from the source.

      https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6421-wind-carries-gm-pollen-record-distances/
      There’s probably an advantage to weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate, but nobody has ever managed to satisfactorily explain what the advantage is.

  38. Stress from heat/drought cause cell membrane changes & there are many enzymes embedded there that function better when there is membrane stability. Drought also increases oxidative stress & the resulting higher proportion of reactive oxygen (“ROS”) causes changes. Any analysis of an introduced plant or newly bred plant that showed less of a rise under drought conditions for tissue hydrogen peroxide (ROS) & malondial-peroxide (marker for lipid membrane damage) + at the same time
    increased total flavenoids (protective) means better growth potential under drought/heat.

    Edible grain (seed) plants, as distinct from leafy greens, require leaf made sugar (“source”) getting to the seed (‘sink’). This involves a feedback that basically means boosting the capacity
    of “sink” for the “source” to move out what leaf is making helps the leaf (source) keep up the pace of growth.

    Pathways to get leaf sourced “sugar” into a “sink” requires many
    electron toggling (reduction/oxidation “redox” reactions) drought/temperature affect. The “sugar” carrier proteins & also
    the site on cell membrane mobilizing ‘sugar” loading into circulation (phloem) for moving along both rely on a particular molecular grouping ( -SH). Plants which incorporate better capability in these 2 aspects do better in drought/temperature.

    Leaf “sugar” synthesizing enzymes(“SPS” sucrose phosphate synthase & fructose -1,6-bis-phosphate) also go up if leaf doesn’t start to raise it’s ratio of starch (to sugar), which to some
    degree can be related to drought/temperature reducing phosphorus (P) re-supply to plant. Any plant demonstrating increased SPS levels is ideal because more of this enzyme in the
    leaf actually up-regulates “sink” capacity; including instigating new “sink” sites to come into action (ex: more grains fill).

    Furthermore, when SPS enzyme levels go up in fully expanded mature(“old”) leaves in drought/temperature stressed plants selected for growing this causes sustained photo-synthesis &
    delayed leaf senescence (“use it or lose it”). The result from this
    is more development in the entire plant, which boosts biomass.

    The “sink” enzyme (invertase) that converts “sugar” (sucrose) to other carbons (fructose & UDP-glucose which in turn are able to
    produce plant oil from that carbon involves a chain of events. The late stage (involving “ACC” acetylCoA carboxylase enzyme) here too depends on “redox” reactions for maximum function of the enzyme ACC; the oil making ( synthesis) dynamic is more efficient when more “reduction” redox reactions can take place.

    Breeding for drought/temperature resistance which sustains “redox” capability might increase dry matter yield ~10% & at the
    same time increase the content of oil in that plant’s seed by 20%
    under those adverse growing conditions.

    Drought & water stress lead to lower levels of the NO3- nitrogen
    assimilation enzyme (nitrate reductase). Plant traits which both tolerate environmental induced stresses & have root structure that favors phosphorus (P) “foraging” from the soil are going to act in concert to increase back up the number of NO3- assimilation enzymes; this in turn will increase growth & subsequently yield at harvest.

    I have elsewhere in thread discussions detailed some of the influence of higher CO2 on NO3- assimilation & am not going to parse the dynamic for crop development. I can be more specific about where to look for that if anyone asks.

  39. “We looked in particular at the effect of temperature on crop durations, which is the length of time between planting and harvesting. Higher temperatures mean shorter durations and hence less time to accumulate biomass and yield.”

    Knowing the length of the growing season might be helpful, but there is no way on God’s green earth yield for maize can be divined from that.

    Yield is improved when weeds, pathogens, pests, parasites and labor demands per hectare are under control.

    For example, Striga, or witchweed,, reduces corn yields 30-80%. The picture below shows what it looks like. It joins itself to the corn plant under ground and the purple flower then appears attached to the corn plant. Witchweed is destroying 2.5 million hectares.

    Striga infestations can become so severe in all major cereal producing regions of Africa that farmers will abandon their fields to cereal production and therefore large swathes of Africa will be precluded from becoming major cereal producing areas.

    Striga was controlled in this plot by a seed coat of herbicide.

    Labor is also a problem because younger people do not want to stay home on farms bent over picking weeds, and so they move to the cities. Herbicides spare the women and children and reduce the labor input per hectare. In many places in Africa the farmers only plant as much as the women can clear of weeds first.

  40. Climate Change is causing elephants to be smaller.
    Therefore; corn grown as high as an elephant’s eye probably has less yield.

  41. “The researchers have also proposed an alternative plan: use global climate models to determine future temperatures, then heat greenhouses to those temperatures and develop new crop varieties there.”

    I propose they skip the green houses and simulate the growing in computers. The result would be far more consistent and predictable.

  42. I agreed in most part of world especially in tropics, food insecurity is real threat and almost declared national disaster. This is a result of recurrent droughts and unreliable rainfall bearing in mind about 70% of developed countries rely on rain-fed agriculture. All this is happening as consequence to increased temperatures due to climate change hence increased emission of green house gases,more incidences of pests and diseases e.t.c that have direct effect to crop production and breeding. To curb the climate change pace, some countries are researching on improved varieties by crop breeding through application of biotechnology technologies.

  43. Florida Agriculture,Volume 76, no.4. June 2016.
    David Jackson et. al. at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have discovered a gene which tells stem cells how to grow. Stimulation of this protein pathway(in the leaf) increased corn yields by up to 50 per cent in lab trials.

  44. This statement is certainly true ““Investment in agricultural research to develop and disseminate new seed technologies is one of the best investments we can make for climate adaptation.”

    The qualifier for climate adaptation is unnecessary for veracity — it may well be necessary for funding as Climate Change Adaptation seems to be the magic words to turn on the $ faucet.

  45. Even if 100% true this is EASY to fix with only a slight change in mindset. Instead of breeding varieties we can breed land races. Breeding only takes as long as it does because we try to breed them with uniform traits for consistency but this is far from the only way or even the most stable way. Crops can readily adapt in real time with a landrace type model.

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