Applying Statistical and Crop Growth Modeling To Facilitate Adaptation of Corn Production to Climate Change


2016 to 2019


Growing season temperatures are projected to
increase in corn production areas. In previous work,
we have identified responses and possible
adaptations to increasing temperature that minimize
negative impacts of high temperatures on corn yields.
We will extend this work to identify adaptation
opportunities and improve yield predictions for
projected changes in future corn production climates.


Climate projections of warmer, drier conditions in maize production areas. There is a need to identify opportunities to mitigate effects of climate on maize, a major, world-wide agronomic crop. The populations affected are the maize producers and consumers. This is important because of the large-scale production of this crop world-wide.


Using a statistical approach, we have identified
potential adaptations of corn to high temperature,
both physiologically (‘acclimation’) and through
altered management practices in parts of the US Corn
Belt currently experiencing high temperatures.


The intended outcomes of this work are identification of crop traits in corn and management practices in corn production that will allow farmers to adapt to climate change such that the impact on corn yields is minimized. This research is relevant nationally, as well as to New York since corn is the major agronomic crop grown in New York, the state has a wide range of environments in which corn is grown, and identification of management strategies and crop traits appropriate for these environments could significantly improve future production. This research will also contribute to our scientific knowledge by advancing methodologies 1) to analyze historical and spatial data of crop production, 2) to improve characterization of environmental stress for evaluating cultivar and management performance and 3) to correlate crop predictors of performance with high through-put phenotyping measurements.

The research proposed here will continue an ongoing engagement with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). We have obtained large, regional data sets on corn yields from the NCGA for our analyses and, in turn, have been providing the NCGA with results of our research. We have also engaged research scientists at Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. for assistance with obtaining data on Pioneer corn hybrids (widely used throughout the U.S. corn production areas) as well as continuing to interact with them on the performance of new ‘drought tolerant’ corn hybrids. We will continue to update extension staff and growers regarding our flux tower measurements at the Musgrave Research Farm through participation in Aurora Farm Field Day. We are also engaged with the Cornell Institute for Climate Change & Agriculture as part of the ‘Climate Change Research and Outreach Capacity’ effort within Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Submitted by: 

  • Melkonian, Jeffrey J

Researchers involved: 

  • Melkonian, Jeffrey J
  • Riha, Susan J

International focus: 

  • United States of America