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Timing of the cycle of agricultural crops (agrophenology)

Indicator Assessment Created 08 Sep 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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Topics: ,
Indicator codes: CLIM 031

Key messages

  • There is evidence that the flowering and maturity of several species in Europe now occurs two or three weeks earlier than in the past.
  • The shortening of the phenological phases is expected to continue if temperatures continue to increase.


Modelled change of flowering date for winter wheat 1975-2007

Note: The day of the year of flowering has been simulated by using a crop growth model (CGMS Crop Growth Monitoring System).

Data source:

MARS/STAT database (Genovese, 2004a, 2004b).

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Potential alcohol level at harvest for Riesling in Alsace (France) 1972-2003

Note: The figure shows the potential alcohol level at harvest for Riesling in Alsace

Data source:

Duchêne, E. and Schneider, C., 2005. Grapevine and climatic changes: a glance at the situation in Alsace. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 24: 93-99. The original data is property of CIVA:

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Past trends

Several studies have collected data and observed 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 in Germany (Chmielewski et al., 2004), and the advance of  apricot and peach tree flowering by 1-3 weeks over the past 30 years for in France (Chuine et al., 2004).
Sowing or planting dates of several agricultural crops have been advanced, by 5 days for potatoes in Finland, 10 days for maize and sugar beet in Germany and 20 days for maize in France (IPCC, 2007).


Assuming that the warming trend will continue, further reductions in the number of days required for flower opening (anthesis) and maturity may be expected for areas in western Europe, where phenological changes are strongly accelerating (ECCE, 2005). However, the rate of the reduction of these phases may gradually decrease with a further increase in temperature due to a reduced efficiency of photosynthesis at high temperatures.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

  • Modelled change of flowering date for winter wheat 1975-2007


Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see:


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified


Methodology uncertainty

Data sets uncertainty

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Generic metadata


Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

soer2010 | thematic assessments | climate change | climate | global warming | adaptation | agriculture | temperatures
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 031
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Alsace, France, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel

EEA Management Plan

2008 2.3.1 (note: EEA internal system)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100