Climate-crop yield relationships at provincial scales in China and the impacts of recent climate trends

Fulu Tao*, Masayuki Yokozawa, Jiyuan Liu, Zhao Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding climate-yield relationships and the impacts of recent climate trends on crop productivity on a large scale is an important step in predicting regional agricultural production. In this study we investigated climate-crop relationships, recent trends in seasonal climate (maximum and minimum temperatures, diurnal temperature range and precipitation) and their impacts on the yields of major crops (i.e. rice, wheat, maize and soybean) at provincial scales throughout China over the last few decades. We found that major crop yields were significantly related to growing season climate in the main production regions of China, and that growing season temperature had a generally significant warming trend. Due to the trends in growing season climate, total rice production in China was estimated to have increased by 3.2 x 105 t decade-1 during the period 1951-2002; total production of wheat, maize and soybean changed by -1.2 x 105, -21.2 x 105 and 0.7 x 105 t decade-1, respectively, during 1979-2002. The warming trend increased rice yield in northeast China and soybean in north and northeast China; however, it decreased maize yield in 7 provinces (autonomous region or municipality) and wheat yield in 3 provinces. Our analysis presents the general response patterns of regional agricultural productivity to seasonal climate variability and change over the last few decades. Crop response mechanisms to local seasonal climate change (and variability) need further investigation to better understand the patterns and predict future consequences of climate change and variability on regional agricultural production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-94
Number of pages12
JournalClimate Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • China
  • Climate change
  • Food security
  • Impacts
  • Yield variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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