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Experts warn of climate change consequences for wheat production

Wheat yields could drop by seven per cent for every degree Celsius of global warming, experts warned in a study published in Berlin on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

Wheat farm
Wheat farming in the UK

“Over the coming years, wheat production will be challenged by an increasingly variable climate with multiple studies indicating a 7 per cent decline in yield for each degree increase in temperature.’’

This is according to the strategy paper produced by the Wheat Initiative, a group of public and private entities engaged in wheat research.

The lower availability of water was already having a significant impact in irrigated regions and the issue was expected to be further exacerbated by reduced groundwater levels and decreasing rainfall, the report noted.

There was also likely to be increased pressure to reduce fertiliser and pesticide use as a protective measure to reduce environmental contamination.

Research priorities include increasing genetic diversity and understanding root and soil biology, according to the paper.

The paper is a joint effort by wheat researchers, government representatives and plant cultivation firms.

The Wheat Initiative was created in 2011 and connected wheat researchers worldwide with the aim of promoting food security.

In 2020, there were around 770 wheat-related research projects in Australia, Canada, China, Spain and the U.S. alone, the report notes.

Nearly a quarter of the wheat produced worldwide is traded internationally, unlike rice, for example, which is largely consumed domestically by producers. 

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