Projected climate and agronomic implications for corn production in the Northeastern United States

Rishi Prasad, Stephan Kpoti Gunn, Clarence Alan Rotz, Heather Karsten, Greg Roth, Anthony Buda, Anne M.K. Stoner

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30 Scopus citations


Corn has been a pillar of American agriculture for decades and continues to receive much attention from the scientific community for its potential to meet the food, feed and fuel needs of a growing human population in a changing climate. By midcentury, global temperature increase is expected to exceed 2C where local effects on heat, cold and precipitation extremes will vary. The Northeast United States is a major dairy producer, corn consumer, and is cited as the fastest warming region in the contiguous U.S. It is important to understand how key agronomic climate variables affect corn growth and development so that adaptation strategies can be tailored to local climate changes. We analyzed potential local effects of climate change on corn growth and development at three major dairy locations in the Northeast (Syracuse, New York; State College, Pennsylvania and Landisville, Pennsylvania) using downscaled projected climate data (2000–2100) from nine Global Climate Models under two emission pathways (Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5). Our analysis indicates that corn near the end of the 21st century will experience fewer spring and fall freezes, faster rate of growing degree day accumulation with a reduction in time required to reach maturity, greater frequencies of daily high temperature 35C during key growth stages such as silking-anthesis and greater water deficit during reproductive (R1-R6) stages. These agronomic anomalies differ between the three locations, illustrating varying impacts of climate change in the more northern regions vs. the southern regions of the Northeast. Management strategies such as shifting the planting dates based on last spring freeze and irrigation during the greatest water deficit stages (R1-R6) will partially offset the projected increase in heat and drought stress. Future research should focus on understanding the effects of global warming at local levels and determining adaptation strategies that meet local needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0198623
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


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