Climate change enhances stability of wheat-flowering-date


The stability of winter wheat-flowering-date is crucial for ensuring consistent and robust crop performance across diverse climatic conditions. However, the impact of climate change on wheat-flowering-dates remains uncertain. This study aims to elucidate the influence of climate change on wheat-flowering-dates, predict how projected future climate conditions will affect flowering date stability, and identify the most stable wheat genotypes in the study region. We applied a multi-locus genotype-based (MLG-based) model for simulating wheat-flowering-dates, which we calibrated and evaluated using observed data from the Northern China winter wheat region (NCWWR). This MLG-based model was employed to project flowering dates under different climate scenarios. The simulated flowering dates were then used to assess the stability of flowering dates under varying allelic combinations in projected climatic conditions. Our MLG-based model effectively simulated flowering dates, with a root mean square error (RMSE) of 2.3 days, explaining approximately 88.5 % of the genotypic variation in flowering dates among 100 wheat genotypes. We found that, in comparison to the baseline climate, wheat-flowering-dates are expected to shift earlier within the target sowing window by approximately 11 and 14 days by 2050 under the Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 (RCP4.5) and RCP8.5 climate scenarios, respectively. Furthermore, our analysis revealed that wheat-flowering-date stability is likely to be further strengthened under projected climate scenarios due to early flowering trends. Ultimately, we demonstrate that the combination of Vrn and Ppd genes, rather than individual Vrn or Ppd genes, plays a critical role in wheat-flowering-date stability. Our results suggest that the combination of Ppd-D1a with winter genotypes carrying the vrn-D1 allele significantly contributes to flowering date stability under current and projected climate scenarios. These findings provide valuable insights for wheat breeders and producers under future climatic conditions.

Science of The Total Environment
Bangyou Zheng
Bangyou Zheng
Data Scientist / Digital Agronomist

a research scientist of digital agriculture at the CSIRO.