Variations in the sensitivity of US maize yield to extreme temperatures by region and growth phase

Ethan E. Butler, Peter Huybers

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73 Scopus citations


Maize yield is sensitive to high temperatures, and most large scale analyses have used a single, fixed sensitivity to represent this vulnerability over the course of a growing season. Field scale studies, in contrast, highlight how temperature sensitivity varies over the course of development. Here we couple United States Department of Agriculture yield and development data from 1981-2012 with weather station data to resolve temperature sensitivity according to both region and growth interval. On average, temperature sensitivity peaks during silking and grain filling, but there are major regional variations. In Northern states grain filling phases are shorter when temperatures are higher, whereas Southern states show little yield sensitivity and have longer grain filling phases during hotter seasons. This pattern of grain filling sensitivity and duration accords with the whole-season temperature sensitivity in US maize identified in recent studies. Further exploration of grain filling duration and its response to high temperatures may be useful in determining the degree to which maize agriculture can be adapted to a hotter climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034009
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • adaptation
  • agriculture
  • climate change
  • maize
  • phenology


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