Trends in maize (Zea mays L.) phenology and sensitivity to climate factors in China from 1981 to 2010

  • Yujie LiuEmail author
  • Ya Qin
  • Huanjiong Wang
  • Shuo Lv
  • Quansheng Ge
Original Paper


Changes in crop phenology may reflect crop responses and adaptation to climate change. In this study, we used observational data (1981–2010) of maize (Zea mays L.) phenology from agricultural meteorological stations in the major maize-growing regions of China to examine spatiotemporal changes in the phenologies and growth periods and associated sensitivities to changes in major climatic factors. The results showed that, during the study period, sowing, tasseling, and maturity dates for maize were delayed in most maize growth regions. The lengths of vegetative growth period (VGP, from emergence to tasseling) were increased in spring and spring-summer maize growth regions and decreased in summer maize growth regions; the lengths of the maize reproductive growth period (RGP, from tasseling to maturity) and whole growth period (WGP, from emergence to maturity) were mostly extended (except NWMR_SU). Overall, sensitivity of maize VGP, RGP, and WGP was negatively related to average temperature (P < 0.01) and positively related to precipitation and sunshine hours (P < 0.01); there were variations in sensitivity among regions and data station locations. Precipitation was a driver of growth period length in the northwest inland maize region, whereas mean temperature and sunshine hours were drivers in the southwest hilly region.


Phenology Maize Climate change Sensitivity China 



We thank the China Meteorological Administration for providing data support.

Funding information

This study was supported by the National Key R & D Program of China, [Grant No. 2018YFA0606102]; National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant No. 41671037]; the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS [Grant No. 2016049], and Program for “Kezhen” Excellent Talents in IGSNRR, CAS, [Grant No.2017RC101].


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Copyright information

© ISB 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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