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Rising Temperatures and Corn Production in Northeast China
Chen, C., Lei, C., Deng, A., Qian, C., Hoogmoed, W. and Zhang, W. 2011. Will higher minimum temperatures increase corn production in northeast China? An analysis of historical data over 1965-2008. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 151: 1580-1588.

The authors state that corn acreage in Northeast China - comprised of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces - "accounts for 26.3% of the corn area in the country and accounts for about 29.4% of Chinese total corn grain production." And in light of these facts, they say that the corn production of this region "plays a significant role in ensuring Chinese food security," noting that "knowledge of the potential effects of climate change on corn production in Northeast China will be highly valuable, not only for China but also for the world."

What was done
To obtain this important knowledge, Chen et al., as they describe it, "performed a multiple regression analysis to study the relationship between corn growth and the key climatic factors of temperature and precipitation during the crop growing season and during specific months in Northeast China from 1965 to 2008," in order to learn "which variables of climate change and which month in the crop growing season were associated with yield variability over this 44-year period."

What was learned
The six scientists determined that the major climate factor affecting corn yield in Northeast China is daily minimum temperature, particularly in the months of May and September; and they found that a warming of 1.0°C in the mean daily minimum temperature of either of these months may enhance corn yield by either 303 kg/ha or 284 kg/ha, respectively. In addition, they found that growth duration - defined as the period from sowing to harvest (days to maturity) - rose by six days in Liaoning province and by seven days in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces over the period 1950-2008, which encompassed the period of 1965-2008, when daily minimum temperature rose at a rate of 0.44°C per decade.

What it means
"In order to fully exploit the positive effects of global warming on corn production," in the words of Chen et al., "new varieties should be adapted to the longer growing season," which adjustment could be described as a good example of man and nature working together to insure maximum food security for a large portion of mankind.

Reviewed 11 January 2012