Neglecting rice milling yield and quality underestimates economic losses from high-temperature stress

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 22;8(8):e72157. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072157. eCollection 2013.


Future increases in global surface temperature threaten those worldwide who depend on rice production for their livelihoods and food security. Past analyses of high-temperature stress on rice production have focused on paddy yield and have failed to account for the detrimental impact of high temperatures on milling quality outcomes, which ultimately determine edible (marketable) rice yield and market value. Using genotype specific rice yield and milling quality data on six common rice varieties from Arkansas, USA, combined with on-site, half-hourly and daily temperature observations, we show a nonlinear effect of high-temperature stress exposure on yield and milling quality. A 1 °C increase in average growing season temperature reduces paddy yield by 6.2%, total milled rice yield by 7.1% to 8.0%, head rice yield by 9.0% to 13.8%, and total milling revenue by 8.1% to 11.0%, across genotypes. Our results indicate that failure to account for changes in milling quality leads to understatement of the impacts of high temperatures on rice production outcomes. These dramatic losses result from reduced paddy yield and increased percentages of chalky and broken kernels, which together decrease the quantity and market value of milled rice. Recently published estimates show paddy yield reductions of up to 10% across the major rice-producing regions of South and Southeast Asia due to rising temperatures. The results of our study suggest that the often-cited 10% figure underestimates the economic implications of climate change for rice producers, thus potentially threatening future food security for global rice producers and consumers.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / economics
  • Agriculture / methods
  • Arkansas
  • Biomass*
  • Edible Grain / genetics
  • Edible Grain / growth & development
  • Edible Grain / standards
  • Genotype
  • Global Warming*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oryza / classification
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / growth & development*
  • Quality Control
  • Seasons
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.