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CR 46:211-222 (2011)  -  DOI:

Effects of temperature changes on maize production in Mozambique

L. Harrison1,*, J. Michaelsen1, C. Funk1,2, G. Husak1

1Department of Geography, Climate Hazards Group, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
2U.S. Geological Survey/Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57198, USA

ABSTRACT: We examined intraseasonal changes in maize phenology and heat stress exposure over the 1979–2008 period, using Mozambique meteorological station data and maize growth requirements in a growing degree-day model. Identifying historical effects of warming on maize growth is particularly important in Mozambique because national food security is highly dependent on domestic food production, most of which is grown in already warm to hot environments. Warming temperatures speed plant development, shortening the length of growth periods necessary for optimum plant and grain size. This faster phenological development also alters the timing of maximum plant water demand. In hot growing environments, temperature increases during maize pollination threaten to make midseason crop failure the norm. In addition to creating a harsher thermal environment, we find that early season temperature increases have caused the maize reproductive period to start earlier, increasing the risk of heat and water stress. Declines in time to maize maturation suggest that, independent of effects to water availability, yield potential is becoming increasingly limited by warming itself. Regional variations in effects are a function of the timing and magnitude of temperature increases and growing season characteristics. Continuation of current climatic trends could induce substantial yield losses in some locations. Farmers could avoid some losses through simple changes to planting dates and maize varietal types.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Temperature trends · Maize · Phenology · Degree-days · Mozambique

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Cite this article as: Harrison L, Michaelsen J, Funk C, Husak G (2011) Effects of temperature changes on maize production in Mozambique. Clim Res 46:211-222.

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