Crops | VOL. 15, ISSUE 94 January-February 2016

Climate Change and Wheat

Wheat is the world’s third most important cereal crop, after maize and rice. Globally, it occupies 222 million ha areas across all major regions of the world and produces 729 million tonnes (MT) grains. India contributes 13 per cent to the global wheat production of 729, with 94.5 MT grown on 31.2 million ha areas (fao.org). Since 1961, there has been an annual growth rate of 4.19 per cent, with a 1.5 per cent annual horizontal expansion in area and 2.64 per cent vertical expansion in yield. However, despite an augmented availability of critical inputs, there is a significant average decline in annual wheat production over the last two decades (Fig. 1). A closer examination of the weather data indicates that the declining trend in yield may be attributed to climate variability and climate change (Kumar et al., 2012). Recent climate change trends Climate change and variability are emerging as major challenges for the Indian agricultural sector. The high inter and intra-seasonal variability in rainfall distribution, rainfall events and extreme temperatures are causing crop damages and losses to farmers.  Studies pertaining to India show enough evidence of rising mean temperatures during the post-1970 period.  A warming of 0.21°C per 10 years during the post-1970 period as compared to 0.51°C rise per 100 years during the past century has been reported. In many parts of India,...

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