Temperatures and the growth and development of maize and rice: a review

Glob Chang Biol. 2014 Feb;20(2):408-17. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12389. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Because of global land surface warming, extreme temperature events are expected to occur more often and more intensely, affecting the growth and development of the major cereal crops in several ways, thus affecting the production component of food security. In this study, we have identified rice and maize crop responses to temperature in different, but consistent, phenological phases and development stages. A literature review and data compilation of around 140 scientific articles have determined the key temperature thresholds and response to extreme temperature effects for rice and maize, complementing an earlier study on wheat. Lethal temperatures and cardinal temperatures, together with error estimates, have been identified for phenological phases and development stages. Following the methodology of previous work, we have collected and statistically analysed temperature thresholds of the three crops for the key physiological processes such as leaf initiation, shoot growth and root growth and for the most susceptible phenological phases such as sowing to emergence, anthesis and grain filling. Our summary shows that cardinal temperatures are conservative between studies and are seemingly well defined in all three crops. Anthesis and ripening are the most sensitive temperature stages in rice as well as in wheat and maize. We call for further experimental studies of the effects of transgressing threshold temperatures so such responses can be included into crop impact and adaptation models.

Keywords: cardinal temperatures; climatic change impacts; development; growth; lethal temperatures; maize; rice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Oryza / growth & development*
  • Temperature
  • Zea mays / growth & development*