MANHATTAN – A recent study involving Kansas State University researchers finds that in the coming decades at least one-quarter of the world’s wheat production will be lost to extreme weather from climate change if no adaptive measures are taken.
Vara Prasad, professor of crop ecophysiology and director of the USAID Feed the Future Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab at Kansas State University, is part of a collaborative team that found wheat yields are projected to decrease by 6 percent for each degree Celsius the temperature rises if no measures to adapt to extreme weather fluctuations are taken. Based on the 2012-2013 wheat harvest of 701 million tons worldwide, the resulting temperature increase would result in 42 million tons less produced wheat – or a loss of nearly one-quarter of the current wheat production.
“It’s pretty severe,” Prasad said. “The projected effect of climate change on wheat is more than what has been forecast. That’s challenging because the world will have to at least double our food supply in the next 30 years if we’re going to feed 9.6 billion people.”
Prasad and colleagues published their study, “Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production,” in a recent issue of the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. The study was supported through the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Wheat Alliance, two organizations seeking ways to increase wheat yield.
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