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Crop responses to temperature and precipitation according to long-term multi-location trials at high-latitude conditions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2010

MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Plant Production Research, Crop Science, FI-31600, Jokioinen, Finland
MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Services Unit, FI-31600, Jokioinen, Finland
MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Plant Production Research, Crop Science, FI-31600, Jokioinen, Finland
*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:


Global warming has accelerated in recent decades and the years 1995–2006 were the warmest ever recorded. Also, in Finland, the last decade has been exceptionally warm. Hence, this study examines how current field crop cultivars, adapted to northern long-day conditions and short growing seasons, have responded to the elevated temperatures, especially with regard to determination of yield potential and quality. These comparisons were carried out with spring and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), oats (Avena sativa L.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), winter rye (Secale cereale L.), pea (Pisum sativum L.) and rapeseed (turnip rape, Brassica rapa L. and oilseed rape, B. napus L.). Long-term data sets of MTT Official Variety Trials and the Finnish Meteorological Institute were used to study crop responses to precipitation and elevated temperatures at different growth phases. The MTT data sets were also grouped into experiments that could be considered typical of the temperature conditions in the period 1971–2000 seasons (termed ‘1985’ conditions) or typical of the period 2010–39 (termed ‘2025’). At elevated temperatures, yields generally declined in these relatively cool growing conditions of northern Europe, except for pea. Elevated temperatures tended to have negative effects both in the pre- and post-anthesis phases, but the response depended on species. The response was probably associated with reduced water availability, which limited yield determination, especially in early growth phases. For example, in spring cereals a decrease in early summer precipitation by 10 mm decreased yields by 45–75 kg/ha. As warmer conditions also typically hastened development and growth in such generally cool growing conditions of Finland, it is essential that breeding programmes produce cultivars that are less sensitive to elevated temperatures, which are likely to become more frequent in future.

Climate Change and Agriculture
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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