Effects of temperature changes on maize production in Mozambique

Climate Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

We examined intraseasonal changes in maize phenology and heat stress exposure over the 1979-2008 period, using Mozambique meteorological station data and maize growth requirements in a growing degree-day model. Identifying historical effects of warming on maize growth is particularly important in Mozambique because national food security is highly dependent on domestic food production, most of which is grown in already warm to hot environments. Warming temperatures speed plant development, shortening the length of growth periods necessary for optimum plant and grain size. This faster phenological development also alters the timing of maximum plant water demand. In hot growing environments, temperature increases during maize pollination threaten to make midseason crop failure the norm. In addition to creating a harsher thermal environment, we find that early season temperature increases have caused the maize reproductive period to start earlier, increasing the risk of heat and water stress. Declines in time to maize maturation suggest that, independent of effects to water availability, yield potential is becoming increasingly limited by warming itself. Regional variations in effects are a function of the timing and magnitude of temperature increases and growing season characteristics. Continuation of current climatic trends could induce substantial yield losses in some locations. Farmers could avoid some losses through simple changes to planting dates and maize varietal types.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of temperature changes on maize production in Mozambique
Series title Climate Research
DOI 10.3354/cr00979
Volume 46
Issue 3
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Inter-Research
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 12 p.
First page 211
Last page 222
Country Mozambique