Ensemble yield simulations: Using heat-tolerant and later-maturing varieties to adapt to climate warming
The use of modern crop varieties is a dominant method of obtaining high yields in crop production. Efforts to identify suitable varieties, with characteristics that would increase crop yield under future climate conditions, remain essential to developing sustainable agriculture and food security. This work aims to evaluate potential genotypic adaptations (i.e., using varieties with increased ability to produce desirable grain numbers under high temperatures and with enhanced thermal time requirements during the grain-filling period) to cope with the negative impacts of climate change on maize yield. The contributions of different options were investigated at six sites in the North China Plain using the APSIM model and the outputs of 8 GCMs under RCP4.5 scenarios. It was found that without considering adaptation options, mean maize yield would decrease by 7~18% during 2010–2039 relative to 1976–2005. A large decrease in grain number relative to stabilized grain weight decreased maize yield under future climate scenarios. Using heat-tolerant varieties, maize yield could increase on average by 6% to 10%. Using later maturing varieties, e.g., enhanced thermal time requirements during the grain-filling period, maize yield could increase by 7% to 10%. The optimal adaptation options were site specific.