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Decline in climate resilience of European wheat

Abstract : Food security relies on the resilience of staple food crops to climatic variability and extremes, but the climate resilience of European wheat is unknown. A diversity of responses to disturbance is considered a key determinant of resilience. The capacity of a sole crop genotype to perform well under climatic variability is limited; therefore, a set of cultivars with diverse responses to weather conditions critical to crop yield is required. Here, we show a decline in the response diversity of wheat in farmers’ fields in most European countries after 2002–2009 based on 101,000 cultivar yield observations. Similar responses to weather were identified in cultivar trials among central European countries and southern European countries. A response diversity hotspot appeared in the trials in Slovakia, while response diversity “deserts” were identified in Czechia and Germany and for durum wheat in southern Europe. Positive responses to abundant precipitation were lacking. This assessment suggests that current breeding programs and cultivar selection practices do not sufficiently prepare for climatic uncertainty and variability. Consequently, the demand for climate resilience of staple food crops such as wheat must be better articulated. Assessments and communication of response diversity enable collective learning across supply chains. Increased awareness could foster governance of resilience through research and breeding programs, incentives, and regulation.
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Helena Kahiluoto, Janne Kaseva, Jan Balek, Jørgen E. Olesen, Margarita Ruiz-Ramos, et al.. Decline in climate resilience of European wheat. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2019, 116 (1), pp.123-128. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1804387115⟩. ⟨hal-02628822⟩

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