Agrophenology (CLIM 031) - Assessment published Nov 2012
Climate change (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- CLIM 031
Key policy question: How is climate change affecting the seasonal cycle of agricultural crops across Europe?
- Flowering of several perennial crops has advanced by about two days per decade in recent decades.
- Changes in timing of crop phenology are affecting crop production and the relative performance of different crop species and varieties.
- The shortening of crop growth phases in many crops is expected to continue. The shortening of the grain filling phase of cereals and oilseed crops can be particularly detrimental to yield.
Change of flowering date for winter wheat
Note: This figure shows the rate of change of the flowering date for winter wheat. The flowering date is defined as the day at which a modelization of the winter wheat reaches a development state of 100 in a scale 0 - 200 defined for the WOFOST growth model (Van Keulen H, Wolf J (1986) Modelling of agricultural production: weather soils and crops, Simulation monographs. Pudoc, Wageningen). The map shows the yearly change rate in days per year calculated for the period January 1975 - December 2010.
- Monitoring Agricultural ResourceS (MARS) provided by Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Projected change in dates of flowering and maturation for winter wheat
Note: This figure shows the model estimated mean change in dates of flowering and full maturation for winter wheat for the period 2031–2050 compared with 1975–1994 for the RACMO (KNMI) and HadRCM3 (Hadley Centre.HC) projections under the A1B emission scenario.
- Changes in flowering and maturity time of cereals in Northern Europe under climate change provided by University of Aarhus
Changes in the phenological phases of several perennial crops in Europe, such as the advance in the start of the growing season of fruit trees (2.3 days/10 years), cherry tree blossom (2.0 days/10 years) and apple tree blossom (2.2 days/10 years), in line with increases of up to 1.4 ºC in mean annual air temperature have been observed in Germany during 1961–2000 [i]. Sowing or planting dates of several agricultural crops have been advanced, for example by 5 days for potatoes in Finland (1965–1999), 10 days for maize and sugar beet in Germany (1961–2000) and 20 days for maize in France (1974–2003) [ii].
An analysis of the modelled flowering date for winter wheat in Europe between 1975 and 2010 shows a general and clear increasing trend, which is most pronounced in north-western Europe (Figure 1). In parts of Europe the modelled flowering date has advanced by 0.3–0.5 days per year. This modelled advance in flowering date probably exceeds what is observed in reality, as day length responses in the plants and farmers’ choices of cultivars with longer growth duration will reduce this response.
With the projected warming of the climate in Europe, further reductions in the number of days required for flowering in cereals and maturity may be expected throughout Europe (Figure 2). The modelled changes in flowering dates in Figure 2 include the expected effects of changes in cultivar choice on flowering and maturity dates. Since many plants (including cereals) in Europe require long days to flower, the effect of warming on date of flowering is smaller than would otherwise be expected.
The flowering date for winter wheat is projected to show the greatest advance in western parts of Europe, but with a large uncertainty due to uncertainty in the underlying climate change projections. The advance in maturity date is larger than the advance in flowering date, leading to a shortening of the grain filling period, which will negatively affect yields. An independent study with a different phenology model and other climate change projections found similar advances in flowering date for winter wheat for England and Wales (14–16 days by 2050) [iii].
[i] Frank-M Chmielewski, Antje Müller, and Ekko Bruns, „Climate changes and trends in phenology of fruit trees and field crops in Germany, 1961-2000“, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 121, Nr. 1–2 (Enero 2004): 69–78, doi:10.1016/S0168-1923(03)00161-8.
[ii] IPCC, „IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 (AR4)“, 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_and_data_reports.shtml.
[iii] M.A. Semenov, „Impacts of climate change on wheat in England and Wales“, Journal of the Royal Society Interface 6 (2009): 343–350, doi:10.1098/rsif.2008.0285.
Changes in flowering and maturity time of cereals in Northern Europe under climate change
provided by University of Aarhus
Modelling of agricultural production: weather, soils and crops.
provided by Wageningen University (WUR)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
EEA Management Plan2012 2.0.1 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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