DEC 08, 2019 7:21 AM PST

Oilseed rape crops thrive under climate change

Research published recently in Current Biology points towards at least one upside of climate change: some agricultural crops will have longer growing seasons, resulting in increased productivity. The study was conducted by the John Innes Centre in the UK.

Oilseed rape is a crop that is known to be sensitive to temperature. Its growing season begins in late August-September when seeds are sown and continues as plants produce flowers in April/May of the following year. The crop is then harvested that July, almost one year later. Due to the overwintering property of the crop, temperatures in the late fall can greatly affect the amount of development that plants can accomplish. According to Science Daily, annual yields can vary by up to 30% depending on how warm temperatures are in October (warmer temperatures produce higher yields).

The new study explains that this variation due to temperature is because of the timing of flowering. More explicitly, warmer temperatures in October mean in a delay in the crops’ flowering the following spring.

One author on the study, Professor Steve Penfield, commented, "We found that oilseed rape plants stop growing when they go through the floral transition at the end of October and that the warmer temperatures at this time of year enable the plant to grow for longer, giving more potential for higher yields."

Well, you can probably connect the dots from here. Under our current climate conditions and projected conditions, the UK will undoubtedly face fewer colder Octobers, making the environment ideal for oilseed rape crops.

"By establishing the link between autumn temperatures and yield, our study highlights an example of climate change being potentially useful to farmers. Cold Octobers have a negative effect on yield if you are growing oilseed rape, and these are now rarer," says Professor Penfield.

Oilseed rape is a common crop in the UK. Photo: Pixabay

The researchers say that this study is the first of its kind because it simulated a field trial experiment. Although the technique they used has been used previously with natural grasslands to simulate winter warming, this was the first attempt at simulating an agricultural crop in the field.

"This study was only possible because we're able to create the lab into a field to simulate how climate change is affecting UK agriculture," continues Professor Penfield. "It's important to be able to do this because yield is highly weather-dependent in oilseed rape and it is very likely that climate change will have big consequences for the way we can use crops and the type of variety that we need to deploy."

Sources: Current Biology, Oilseed Rape, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUN 16, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The pros and cons of agroforestry
JUN 16, 2020
The pros and cons of agroforestry
Research published in the journal Conservation Letters highlights the importance of considering land-use history when ev ...
JUN 18, 2020
Neuroscience
How Climate Change Worsened Zika Virus Defects
JUN 18, 2020
How Climate Change Worsened Zika Virus Defects
Image: Pixabay   In 2015 a massive outbreak of the Zika virus started in Brazil and spread across 33 countries. The ...
JUN 30, 2020
Plants & Animals
Consequences of Sixth Mass Extinction Threaten Humanity
JUN 30, 2020
Consequences of Sixth Mass Extinction Threaten Humanity
Many scientists have taken note of the rapid decline many of the world species, and several have declared that Earth's s ...
JUL 03, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The secrets uncovered in the South American Drought Atlas
JUL 03, 2020
The secrets uncovered in the South American Drought Atlas
A crucial new resource has been added to climate science recently: the most recent edition of the South American Drought ...
JUL 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
JUL 31, 2020
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
Researchers from West Virginia University (WVU) recently discovered how a parasitic fungus uses male cicadas to spread i ...
AUG 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
Pollutants, Pathogens and Toxins Found in Shellfish
AUG 03, 2020
Pollutants, Pathogens and Toxins Found in Shellfish
Scientists used cutting edge technologies to assess how pervasive toxic or household chemicals and pathogens like plasti ...
Loading Comments...