Monday, March 14, 2011

Global warming puts Africa's maize crop at risk

Daily Mail (UK): A rise in temperature of just 1C during drought conditions could cut yields from three-quarters of Africa's entire maize crop by at least 20 per cent. Even with adequate rainfall, 65 per cent of the crop would suffer losses, scientists have warned. The research shows that maize, a staple food crop in many parts of the world, is far more vulnerable to global warming than had previously been thought.

Researchers combined data from 20,000 trials in sub-Saharan Africa with information from weather stations across the continent. 'The pronounced effect of heat on maize was surprising because we assumed maize to be among the more heat-tolerant crops,' said Dr Marianne Banziger, from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre based in El Batan, Mexico.

'Essentially, the longer a maize crop is exposed to temperatures above 30C, or 86F, the more the yield declines. 'The effect is even larger if drought and heat come together, which is expected to happen more frequently with climate change in Africa, Asia, or Central America, and will pose an added challenge to meeting the increasing demand for staple crops on our planet.'…

An ear of corn rendered by Spedona, Wikimedia Commons, under the Attribution-Share Alike Creative Commons3.0 Unported

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