Can crop disease control cope with climate change?
Fitt, Bruce D.L.
Crop yields need to increase by at least 70% over the next 35 years in order to meet the global demands for food due to the increasing population and changing dietary preferences towards meat and dairy products in developing nations. Climate change threatens food security because pests and diseases that limit crop productivity are all sensitive to climate change and especially to more frequent extreme weather events. A more variable climate will mean greater uncertainty for crop yields because crop development stages, e.g. when reproductive organs such as flowers and seeds are produced, are especially vulnerable to short periods of extreme temperature or drought. For instance, Europe experienced an extreme climate event during the summer of 2003 when temperatures were ca. 6°C higher and rainfall was ca. 300 mm less than the long-term mean values. One impact of this summer was a record crop yield decrease of ca. 36% below average yield in Italy for maize