German study finds US harvests likely to shrink due to rising temperatures over the next century

Jan 20, 2017

An international study published in the journal, Nature Communications, reports that harvests in the United States are likely to shrink by a between one-fifth to half their current sizes due to rising temperatures over the next century.

According to truthdig, the report, based on computer simulations, found that that wheat, corn and soybeans – except those in areas with increased irrigation - could suffer substantial damage by the end of the century due to rising temperatures.

The lead author of the study, Bernhard Schauberger from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany said, “We know from observations that high temperatures can harm crops, but now we have a much better understanding of the processes.”

The study, published Thursday, found that every single day the temperature remains above 86 degrees, corn and soybean plants yields decrease by about five percent and experience greater losses at even incremental temperature increases beyond that.

Water-short regions like the High Plains likely won’t be able to keep up with increasing irrigation needs as temperatures get warmer, the study found.

It also found that without reductions in emissions from greenhouse gases, harvest losses by the end of the 2000s could be 20 percent for wheat, 50 percent for corn and 40 percent for soybeans.