New paper – In Nature Climate Change

Novel wheat varieties facilitate deep sowing to beat the heat of changing climates

A new article has been recently published in Nature Climate Change, presenting an effort to combine understanding of new genetics and APSIM modelling to assess performance of novel wheat genotypes with long coleoptiles across environments.

Wheat yields are threatened by global warming and unreliable rainfall that increase heat and drought stress. A potential adaptation strategy is to sow earlier and deeper using stored soil water for timely establishment to avoid terminal drought. However the short coleoptiles of modern semi-dwarf wheat varieties reduce emergence when sown deep. Novel genotypes with alternative dwarfing genes have longer coleoptiles to facilitate deep sowing, but the yield benefit was uncertain.

In this paper, the authors developed and validated new crop simulation routines in APSIM NG-Wheat model with field experimental data to assess the impact of novel genotypes on Australian wheat production under climate change. The results show that these new genotypes could potentially increase national wheat yields by 18–20% under historical climate (1901–2020), without increased yield variability, with benefits also projected under future warming. These benefits are likely to extend to other dryland wheat production regions globally. The work highlights the impact of synergy between new genetics and management systems to adapt food production to future climates.