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Crop Biotech Update

Changes in Crop Production Projected as Air Temperatures Increase due to Climate Change

June 18, 2014

Research conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist Lewis Ziska projects changes in crop production as air temperatures increase due to climate change. In the study published June 11 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, researchers observed that one of the effects that agricultural producers may see as air temperatures increase is a corresponding increase of insects, weeds and fungal pests because of milder winter temperatures. Another possible result could be for growers to increase their pesticide use to respond to these pests and maintain soybean production levels.

Low winter temperatures in temperate regions keep in check the distribution and survival of agricultural pests. Ziska examined average pesticide applications since 1999 for commercial soybean grown over a transect from Minnesota to Louisiana, and determined that from 1977 through 2013, minimum winter temperatures were increasing throughout the transect. Ziska's observation is consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections regarding enhanced warming with increasing latitude.

For more details, read the USDA ARS news article at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2014/140611.htm.