Is the change of winter wheat yield under warming caused by shortened reproductive period?
Previous reports from laboratory-controlled experiments and models considered that a shorter reproductive period could be the main reason for wheat yield reduction in the warmer world. However, this conclusion needs to be proved carefully by field-scale experiments. In this study, a field-scale continuous open-warming experiment was conducted to quantify the adjustment of winter wheat growth and yield under conventional tillage (CT) and no-till (NT) systems in the North China Plain (NCP). Canopy temperatures were warmed using infrared heaters between 1.0 and 1.6°C (daytime and nighttime, respectively) above the control. Wheat yields under CT were not significantly reduced over the two seasons (2010 and 2011), but yields under NT were 3.3% and 6.1% lower, respectively. The growing seasons for both CT and NT were shortened 6 days in 2010 and 11 days in 2011; however, the reproductive periods were maintained. The shortened days were due to a significantly shorter springtime re-greening stage followed by minimal changes in other phenological stages (jointing, flag completed, heading, anthesis, and grain-filling). The temporal advance by warming resulted in lower growing-season mean air temperatures (MAT) for warmed plots than the control from 0.23 to 4.22°C for the same subsequent phenological stages. Warming increased the number of tillers m−2 and kernel weight, but tended to decrease the number of spikes m−2 in the two tillage systems. The heavier kernels offset the yield reduction from smaller number of spikes. Warming increased the wheat aboveground biomass from 10% to 20% suggesting the potential to sequester more CO2. This study suggests that winter wheat might adjust its growth (shortened vegetative period to maintain reproductive period) to partly compensate for the negative effects from global warming in this temperate irrigated cropland.
[…] The effects of warming on microclimate, wheat growth, and components of wheat yield were determined by one-way analysis of covariance. Significance was determined by least significant difference at the 0.05 level using SPSS for Windows, version 11.5 (SPSS Inc., Champaign, IL). The duration of wheat phenological stage changes was determined by Sigmaplot 10.0 software (Systat Inc., Chicago, IL). […]
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