European Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 117–131 | Cite as

Impacts of climate change on wheat anthesis and fusarium ear blight in the UK

  • James W. Madgwick
  • Jon S. West
  • Rodger P. White
  • Mikhail A. Semenov
  • James A. Townsend
  • Judith A. Turner
  • Bruce D. L. Fitt


Climate change will affect both growth of agricultural crops and diseases that attack them but there has been little work to study how its impacts on crop growth influence impacts on disease epidemics. This paper investigates how impacts of climate change on wheat anthesis date will influence impacts on fusarium ear blight in UK mainland arable areas. A wheat growth model was used for projections of anthesis dates, and a weather-based model was developed for use in projections of incidence of fusarium ear blight in the UK. Daily weather data, generated for 14 sites in arable areas of the UK for a baseline (1960–1990) scenario and for high and low CO2 emissions in the 2020s and 2050s, were used to project wheat anthesis dates and fusarium ear blight incidence for each site for each climate change scenario. Incidence of fusarium ear blight was related to rainfall during anthesis and temperature during the preceding 6 weeks. It was projected that, with climate change, wheat anthesis dates will be earlier and fusarium ear blight epidemics will be more severe, especially in southern England, by the 2050s. These projections, made by combining crop and disease models for different climate change scenarios, suggest that improved control of fusarium ear blight should be a high priority in industry and government strategies for adaptation to climate change to ensure food security.


Climate change adaptation Crop-disease-climate models Food security Fusarium head blight (Fusarium culmorum/F. graminearumWheat growth model Weather-based disease forecast 



We thank the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, Rothamsted Centre for Bioenergy and Climate Change ISPG), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra, including the Sustainable Arable LINK programme, CLIMDIS project LK 09111) and HGCA for funding this research. We thank Sarah Holdgate, Rohan Lowe, Jim McVittie, Eric Ober and Aiming Qi for supplying date of anthesis, fusarium ear blight incidence and weather data, and Pierre Stratonovitch for assistance in using Sirius. UK weather data variables were calculated from Crown copyright data supplied by the UK Met Office.


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Copyright information

© KNPV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Madgwick
    • 1
  • Jon S. West
    • 1
  • Rodger P. White
    • 1
  • Mikhail A. Semenov
    • 1
  • James A. Townsend
    • 1
  • Judith A. Turner
    • 2
  • Bruce D. L. Fitt
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Rothamsted ResearchHarpendenUK
  2. 2.Food and Environment Research AgencyYorkUK
  3. 3.University of HertfordshireHatfieldUK

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