Wheat yields in the UK have largely been resilient to varying weather over the past 30 years.
Wheat yields in the UK have largely been resilient to varying weather over the past 30 years. However, the future security of our most widely grown food crop is uncertain due to increasingly frequent extreme wet and dry conditions as a result of climate change, say scientists.
A research team from the University of Oxford, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), the Met Office and Bristol University carried out an in-depth analysis of wheat yields and simultaneous meteorological conditions across the main agricultural areas of the country since 1990. They also investigated the potential effect of projected climate change on production in the coming decades.
The study found there has been a substantial resilience of UK yields to single extreme weather events such as low or high rainfall or temperature, through farmers’ effective crop management and wheat’s ability to tolerate a range of climatic conditions.
But the researchers also observed that, where some combinations of extreme weather occurred over the course of a growing season there were significant negative impacts on production. For example, in 2020, torrential autumn rain hampered sowing of crops, an exceptionally dry spring affected plant growth and, finally, heavy downpours in August created very challenging harvesting conditions, resulting in some of the UK’s poorest wheat yields for decades.
Read more at UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
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