Heat stress effects on grain sorghum productivity – biology and modelling


Heat stress shock has been known to cause sterility in sorghum and the anticipated increasing frequency of heat shock events with maximum temperature trends implies increasing risk. Here we summarise our research on specific varietal attributes associated with heat stress tolerance in sorghum and evaluate how they might affect yield outcomes in production environments by a crop simulation analysis. We have recently conducted a range of controlled environment and field experiments to study the physiology and genetics of high temperature effects on growth and development of sorghum. Sorghum seed set was reduced by high temperature effects (>36-38oC) on pollen germination around flowering. Sorghum genotypes differed in their tolerance to high temperature stress. Effects were quantified in a manner that enabled their incorporation into the APSIM sorghum crop model. Simulation analysis indicated that risk of high temperature damage and yield loss depended on location, sowing date and variety. While climate trends will exacerbate high temperature effects, avoidance by crop management and genetic tolerance seems possible.

Tropical Agriculture Conference 2015
Bangyou Zheng
Bangyou Zheng
Data Scientist / Digital Agronomist

a research scientist of digital agriculture at the CSIRO.

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