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Preparing corn for climate change - New strategies for success

Preparing corn for climate change - New strategies for success

By Jamie Martin

As the climate changes, so too must our agricultural practices. A pioneering study from the University of Washington has found that the corn varieties cultivated today may not be viable in the warmer, drier conditions of the future.

This research, involving detailed climate projections and crop modeling for the years 2050 and 2100, indicates a pressing need for new, resilient corn varieties.

According to Professor Abigail Swann, existing corn varieties are unlikely to cope well with future increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns.

The study simulated over 100 potential corn varieties, finding that those with increased leaf growth could perform better by maximizing photosynthesis and extending the growing season.

This is critical as the study predicts longer growing seasons due to warmer temperatures, allowing corn to grow more leaves and, subsequently, more grain. The challenge remains as overall yields are expected to decline due to adverse climate conditions.

To prepare for these future scenarios, the research suggests employing genetic modification technologies like CRISPR to develop and test new corn varieties swiftly.

This method could drastically shorten the breeding cycle and ensure that we are prepared for the climatic challenges ahead.

The implications of this research extend beyond the United States. As global populations grow and shift towards higher meat consumption, the demand for corn, both as a direct food source and as livestock feed, will increase.

By advancing our understanding of crop resilience and adaptation, this study not only addresses the needs of future corn production but also provides a template for other crops facing similar challenges.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-laughingmango

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