Effects of climatic factors, drought risk and irrigation requirement on maize yield in the northeast farming region of China over 1961 to 2010

Xiaogang Yin


The Northeast Farming Region (NFR) is the most important and the largest rain-fed maize production region in China, accounting for 30% of China’s maize. We investigated the effects of climatic factors, drought risk and irrigation requirement on maize yield in different maize growth phases during 1961 to 2010 using a statistical analysis of observed yield from 44 stations in NFR. We divided the maize growing season into four growth phases, comprising seeding, vegetative, flowering and maturity. The dual crop coefficient was used to calculate crop evapotranspiration and soil water balance during the maize growing season. The effects of mean temperature, radiation, effective rainfall, water deficit, drought stress days, actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) and irrigation requirement in different growth phases were included in the statistical model to predict maize yield. During the period 1961 to 2010, mean temperature increased significantly in all growth phases in NFR, while radiation decreased significantly in southern NFR in the seeding, vegetative and flowering phases. Effective rainfall increased in the seeding and vegetative phases leading to less water deficit, whereas decreased effective rainfall in the flowering and maturity phases enhanced water deficit. More days with drought stress were concentrated in western NFR where larger volumes of irrigation were needed. Our results indicate that the increase of mean temperature in the seeding and maturity phases was beneficial for maize yield, higher ETa in each growth phase would lead to yield increase, but too high rainfall would damage maize yield. The results also show that water deficit and drought stress days had significant negative effects on maize yield, and the absence of irrigation would manifest such effects on maize production in NFR. Therefore, the development of irrigation and drainage systems is highly needed for ensuring the stability of maize production in NFR. In addition, other adaptation measures like introducing new cultivars and optimizing soil and crop management to better conserve soil water would be beneficial for future maize production.


Temperature; radiation; rainfall; dual crop coefficient; water deficit; drought; irrigation requirement; maize; NFR

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Authors: Xiaogang Yin1,2, Mohamed Jabloun2, Jørgen E. Olesen2, Isik Öztürk2, Fu Chen1

Affiliations: 1Key Laboratory of Farming system, Ministry of Agriculture, China; and College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China; 2Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Alle 20, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

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