, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 397-407
Date: 07 Dec 2013

Nighttime Warming Will Increase Winter Wheat Yield Through Improving Plant Development and Grain Growth in North China

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A better understanding of the actual impacts of nighttime warming on winter wheat growth will assist in breeding new varieties and agronomic innovation for food security under future climates. A 3-year experiment was conducted over an entire growth period of winter wheat using a passive warming facility in North China. An increase of 1.1 °C in mean nighttime temperature promoted wheat development, causing a 6-day reduction of the preanthesis period but a 5-day extension of the postanthesis period. This warming significantly stimulated the rate of leaf respiration at nighttime, resulting in higher carbohydrate depletion compared to that of the unwarmed control. However, stimulation of nighttime respiration and carbohydrate depletion could be compensated for by warming-led promotion of daytime photosynthesis and carbohydrate assimilation. Meanwhile, the flag leaf area per plant and the total green leaves area were significantly higher in the warmed plots than in the unwarmed plots. Besides extending the duration of grain filling, nighttime warming significantly promoted the filling rates of the superior and inferior grains, resulting in a significant increase in the 1,000-grain weight by 6.3 %. Consequently, this moderate increase in nighttime air temperature significantly increased wheat aboveground biomass and grain yield by 12.3 and 12.0 % (p < 0.05), respectively. A moderate warming at nighttime can improve the sink-source balance of winter wheat for higher yield. Our results suggest that climatic warming may benefit winter wheat production through improvement of plant development and grain growth in North China.