Some of the most important U.S. crops, from wheat to soybeans, are at risk of substantial damage from climate change.

Higher temperatures may cut the wheat harvest by 20 percent by the end of the century without efficient carbon reductions, according to a study by researchers including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Chicago. Yield reduction could reach 40 percent for soybeans and almost 50 percent for corn, relative to non-elevated temperatures, the group said in a report released Thursday.

"The effects go far beyond the U.S., one of the largest crop exporters," the researchers said. "World market crop prices might increase, which is an issue for food security in poor countries."

For each day above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), corn and soybean harvests could lose about 5 percent, according to the findings. Those temperatures will be more common amid “unabated” climate change, and yields could be further lowered if temperatures are above 36 Celsius. The researchers ran a set of computer simulations of U.S. crop yields.

 

Crop Growth

Corn and soybean production has surged the past two decades.