Climate change will affect many agricultural crops, and field corn is likely no exception.
Field corn, the starchy cousin of sweet corn, is a globally important cereal grain used in livestock feed and other products. And it has an Achilles heel: unseasonably warm nights.
“As nighttime temperatures rise, corn yields decline. These high temperatures affect an enzyme in maize responsible for storing starch. At higher nighttime temperatures, that enzyme, called PGD3, stops working, and the corn kernels will not produce as much starch, or will not properly develop,” said Camila Ribeiro, a graduate of the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and former postdoctoral researcher at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center.
“Over the next several decades, as we see climate change lead to higher nighttime temperatures, this could mean farmers won’t be able to produce enough corn to stay in business,” said Andrew Mark Settles, a professor in the UF/IFAS horticultural sciences department. “That’s a food supply issue and an economic problem.”Learn more about UF Researchers Develop Corn That Can Weather Warming Planet.