Climate and Crops

The weather in any year affects production through the biology of crops and grass and the timing and type of field operations. Over a much longer time scale, and within the broad ranges set by landscape and soil, climate determines which crops can grow and when in the year they can be sown and harvested. ‘Crops’ in the title includes arable and horticultural crops, managed and unimproved grassland and various forms of woodland and plantation forestry – and also of course livestock that depends on them.

Weather or climate affect ‘crops’ through a highly complex set of interactions. A shift in, for example, just one climatic variable can have very different effects depending on the types of crops and grass (species, season, lifespan) and their present environment. No simple or one-way answer can be given to questions such as “How would a 2-degree rise in temperature affect crops, livestock and food security?”

This opening section therefore lays out some basic principles guiding our understanding of the way weather-factors such as solar radiation, temperature, rainfall and storm affect crops, grass and production forestry.

Online so far (with month of publication in 2021) –

  • Solar income – background to daily and annual change in solar radiation (21-01)
  • Under the cloud – less solar but not all bad for agriculture (21-02)
  • Solar capture – interpretation of vegetation growth by interception and conversion of solar radiation (21-02)

sustainable croplands