Agricultural researchers, who have teamed up to boost harvests and fight the major blight of wheat rust are now forming an international consortium in a bid to make wheat stand up to worsening heat and drought.
“There was a real shift in terms of the intensity of what we do together when we became aware of climate change,” said Hans-Joachim Braun, who heads the global wheat program for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico. For each 1 degree Celsius global temperatures rise above pre-industrial times, wheat harvests drop 5-8%, he said. That means the world will likely see a 10% drop in harvests even if governments hold global warming to “well below” 2C, as they have agreed, he said – and that drop would come even as the world’s population grows and demand for food rises.
Finding ways to breed wheat that can cope better with heat could help farmers from Australia to India and China, as well as the people who depend on their grain, he said. “It doesn’t matter where you use this trait – it will have an impact,” Braun said. Read more here.