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Drivers of planting area and yield shifts for three staple crops across China, 1950–2013

Yuchuan Luo, Zhao Zhang*, Juan Cao, Yi Chen, Liangliang Zhang

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Although the planting areas and yields of three staple crops (rice, maize and wheat) in China have witnessed dramatic spatial and temporal changes, how their geographic dynamics behave is still unknown. A centroid method was introduced to quantitatively characterize the geographical dynamics of the crop planting areas (CPA) and crop yields (CY) for the three staple crops from 1950 to 2013 in China. The results showed that the national centroid for rice CPA moved 389.5 km to the northeast during 1950-2013. It moved 430.0, 292.9, and 363.5 km to the northeast for rice CY, maize CPA, and maize CY, respectively. However, the centroid for wheat CPA/CY moved randomly. Further panel analyses showed that increasing temperature played significantly and consistently positive roles in the shifts of CPA and CY for rice and maize. Precipitation also did but had a less spatially consistent impact. However, temperature had a significant negative impact on the shifts of CPA and CY for wheat. Socio-economic factors dominated the shifts of the CPA and CY centroids, including agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the power of agricultural machines, and effective irrigated areas. Our study highlighted that both the shifts of CY and CPA should be considered in investigating the impacts of climate change and socio-economic development on crop production and the related adaptation measures.