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The sensitivity of maize yields to the regional climate in the Southwestern U.S. (SWUS) has been investigated by using the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) model in conjunction with meteorological forcings [daily maximum and minimum temperature (Tmax and Tmin), precipitation, and radiation] from the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) dataset. Sensitivity experiments showed that potential crop production responded nonlinearly to variations in Tmax, Tmin, and downwelling solar radiation at the surface. Mean annual yield potential (Yp) was changed by -3.0 and 1.79 Mg ha-1 for the +1 and -1 standard deviations (σ) of Tmax variation for entire the SWUS. The impact of Tmin changes were opposite to that of Tmax, with 2.84 and -5.11 Mg ha-1, respectively. Radiation changes only affected Yp decreases by 3.02 Mg ha-1 in the -1 σ case. Yield sensitivity varied geographically according to regional mean climate states. For warmer areas of the SWUS, including southern California and Arizona, maize productivity responded positively to a lower Tmax and higher Tmin. For cooler regions, such as northern California and high-elevation Nevada, a higher Tmax and higher Tmin were favorable for higher yields. The Tmin effect (e.g., cold surges) was larger during the planting period, and the Tmax effect (e.g., heat waves) was larger in the growing season. Downwelling solar radiation at the surface also played an important role in coastal regions and the Central Valley of California.


This article was originally published in Transactions of the ASABE, volume 59, in 2016. DOI:10.13031/trans.59.11584

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American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers



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