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Effects of climate change on cultivation patterns of spring maize and its climatic suitability in Northeast China

Zhao, Junfang, Guo, Jianping, Xu, Yanhong, Mu, Jia
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2015 v.202 pp. 178-187
climate change, corn, cultivars, germination, heat tolerance, planting, spring, China
To learn the effects of climate change on cultivation patterns of spring maize and its suitability will benefit the strategic decisions for future agricultural adaptation. In this paper, based on the daily data from 68 meteorological stations and 82 agro-meteorological observation stations in Northeast China between 1961 and 2010, the cultivation pattern of spring maize and its climatic suitability in Northeast China were investigated. The agricultural climatic suitability theory was applied. The specific growth phases of spring maize that were most sensitive to environmental limitations were further divided into four stages: from germination to emergence, from emergence to jointing, from jointing to tasseling, and from tasseling to maturity. The average resource suitability index (Isr) was established to evaluate the effects. Higher values of Isr indicate a higher degree of climatic resource suitability. Over the past five decades, the northern planting boundaries of different maturities (late, medium-late, medium, medium-early and early) of spring maize varieties in Northeast China all markedly extended northward and eastward. Of all the varieties, the medium-late maturity variety had the most expanded planting area. This further illustrated the importance of promoting medium-late range heat-tolerant cultivars of spring maize in reducing the unfavorable effect of climate change in the near future in Northeast China. In addition, the most significant extension was found in the early 21st century. Moreover, the southern planting boundaries of unsuitable planting spring maize areas continually compressed northward from the Tonghe County of Heilongjiang Province (128°49′, 46°21′) to the Huma County of Heilongjiang Province (124°11′, 51°26′). Climate change affected not only the planting patterns of spring maize, but also the climatic suitability of spring maize. Significant temporal and spatial changes of Isr from 1961 to 2010 were found. The Isr showed increasing trends, which increased by 0.19 in Heilongjiang Province, 0.16 in Jilin Province and 0.12 in Liaoning Province. Spatial differences of Isr were obvious, with high values shifting northeastward over the past 50 years, indicating more efficient suitability of agricultural climatic resources in Northeast China.