CR 70:195-214 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01426

Changing regional weather–crop yield relationships across Europe between 1901 and 2012

M. Trnka1,2,*, J. E. Olesen3, K. C. Kersebaum4, R. P. Rötter5,6, R. Brázdil1,7, J. Eitzinger8, S. Jansen9, A. O. Skjelvåg10, P. Peltonen-Sainio5, P. Hlavinka1, J. Balek1, H. Eckersten11, A. Gobin12, V. Vučetić13, A. Dalla Marta14, S. Orlandini14, V. Alexandrov15, D. Semerádová1,2, P. Šteěpánek1, E. Svobodová1, K. Rajdl1

1Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Bělidla 986/4a, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic
2Institute of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, Zemědělská 1, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic
3Department of Agroecology and Environment, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
4Institute for Landscape Systems Analysis, Leibniz-Center of Agricultural Landscape Research, Eberswalder Str. 84, 15374 Müncheberg, Germany
5Natural Resources Institute Finland, Viikinkari 4, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
6Department of Crop Science, Georg-August-University, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
7Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic
8Institute of Meteorology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Peter-Jordan Str. 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria
9Alterra Wageningen UR, Alterra-Earth observation and environmental informatics group, PO Box 47, 6700AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
10Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway
11Department of Crop Production Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7043, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
12Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium
13Agrometeorological Department, Meteorological and Hydrological Service, Grič 3, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
14Department of Agrifood Production and Environmental Sciences, University of Florence, Piazzale delle Cascine 18, 50144 Firenze, Italy
15National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Tzarigradsko shose 66, 1784 Sofia, Bulgaria
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Europe is, after Asia, the second largest producer of wheat in the world, and provides the largest share of barley. Wheat (and to a similar extent, barley) production in Europe increased by more than 6-fold during the 20th century. During the first half of the 20th century, this was driven by expanding the harvested area. This was followed, from the mid-20th century, by a massive increase in productivity that in many regions has stalled since 2000. However, it remains unclear what role climatic factors have played in these changes. Understanding the net impact of climatic trends over the past century would also aid in our understanding of the potential impact of future climate changes and in assessments of the potential for adaptation across Europe. In this study, we compiled information from several sources on winter wheat and spring barley yields and climatological data from 12 countries/regions covering the period from 1901-2012. The studied area includes the majority of climatic regions in which wheat and barley are grown (from central Italy to Finland). We hypothesized that changes in climatic conditions have led to measurable shifts in climate-yield relationships over the past 112 yr, and that presently grown wheat and barley show a more pronounced response to adverse weather conditions compared to crops from the early 20th century. The results confirm that climate-yield relationships have changed significantly over the period studied, and that in some regions, different predictors have had a greater effect on yields in recent times (between 1991 and 2012) than in previous decades. It is likely that changes in the climate-yield relationship at the local level might be more pronounced than those across the relatively large regions used in this study, as the latter represents aggregations of yields from various agroclimatic and pedoclimatic conditions that may show opposing trends.


KEY WORDS: Climatic trend · Weather–crop yield relationship · Wheat · Barley · Yield trend · Drought · Europe


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Cite this article as: Trnka M, Olesen JE, Kersebaum KC, Rötter RP and others (2016) Changing regional weather–crop yield relationships across Europe between 1901 and 2012. Clim Res 70:195-214. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01426

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