The impact of climate change on crop yields has become widely measured; however, the linkages for winter wheat are less studied due to dramatic weather changes during the long growing season that are difficult to model. Recent research suggests significant reductions under warming. A potential adaptation strategy involves the development of heat resistant varieties by breeders, combined with alternative variety selection by producers. However, the impact of heat on specific wheat varieties remains relatively unstudied due to limited data and the complex genetic basis of heat tolerance. Here, we provide a novel econometric approach that combines field-trial data with a genetic cluster mapping to group wheat varieties and estimate a separate extreme heat impact (temperatures over 34 °C) across 24 clusters spanning 197 varieties. We find a wide range of heterogeneous heat resistance and a trade-off between average yield and resistance. Results suggest that recently released varieties are less heat resistant than older varieties, a pattern that also holds for on-farm varieties. Currently released - but not yet adopted - varieties do not offer improved resistance relative to varieties currently grown on farm. Our findings suggest that warming impacts could be significantly reduced through advances in wheat breeding and/or adoption decisions by producers. However, current adaptation-through-adoption potential is limited under a 1 °C warming scenario as increased heat resistance cannot be achieved without a reduction in average yields.
Keywords: adaptation; agriculture; climate change; genetics; global warming; wheat; yield.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.