French corn planted earlier, yields raised with temperature change

Higher temperatures cause French farmers to plant corn earlier

In France, the EU’s largest corn producer, climate changes causing higher temperatures are boosting French yields as farmers begin planting corn crops earlier, according to an interview with researchers and growers.

Jacques Mathieu, head of crop researcher Arvalis Institut du Vegetal, said corn planting began about one month earlier to allow more time for crops to grow. A record 10 metric tons per hectare (2.47 acres) was recorded for average French corn yields in 2011, up from 8.95 tons in 2010, according to data from crop office FranceAgriMer. The 2011-2012 harvest is estimated to be at 16 million tons, up from 15.2 million tons the previous year, according to the data.

“We’ve advanced sowing by a month in not even 10 years,” Mathieu said. “We still have a real potential to lift yields. There’s a climate change element, but also the genetics.”

Climate-change models predict that rising average global temperatures of about 0.2C per decade will continue for at least 40 more years, according to Philippe Gate, scientific director at Arvalis.