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Effects of increased CO2 concentration and temperature on growth and yield of winter wheat at two levels of nitrogen application

Authors

  • R. A. C. MITCHELL,

    1. AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK
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  • V. J. MITCHELL,

    Corresponding author
    1. AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK
      R. A. C. Mitchell, AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK.
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  • S. P. DRISCOLL,

    1. AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK
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  • J. FRANKLIN,

    1. AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK
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  • D. W. LAWLOR

    1. AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK
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R. A. C. Mitchell, AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Biochemistry & Physiology Dept, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK.

ABSTRACT

Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Mercia) was grown in chambers under light and temperature conditions similar to the UK field environment for the 1990/1991 growing season at two levels each of atmospheric CO2 concentration (seasonal means: 361 and 692 μmol mol−1), temperature (tracking ambient and ambient +4°C) and nitrogen application (equivalent to 87 and 489 kg ha−1 total N applied). Total dry matter productivity through the season, the maximum number of shoots and final ear number were stimulated by CO2 enrichment at both levels of the temperature and N treatments. At high N, there was a CO2-induced stimulation of grain yield (+15%) similar to that for total crop dry mass (+12%), and there was no significant interaction with temperature. This contrasts with other studies, where positive interactions between the effects of increases in temperature and CO2 have been found. Temperature had a direct, negative effect on yield at both levels of the N and CO2 treatments. This could be explained by the temperature-dependent shortening of the phenological stages, and therefore, the time available for accumulating resources for grain formation. At high N, there was also a reduction in grain set at ambient +4°C temperature, but the overall negative effect of warmer temperature was greater on the number of grains (-37%) than on yield (-18%), due to a compensating increase in average grain mass. At low N, despite increasing total crop dry mass and the number of ears, elevated CO2 did not increase grain yield and caused a significant decrease under ambient temperature conditions. This can be explained in terms of a stimulation of early vegetative growth by CO2 enrichment leading to a reduction in the amount of N available later for the formation and filling of grain.

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