Variations in climatic suitability and planting regionalization for potato in northern China under climate change

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Investigating the variations in crop climatic suitability and planting regionalization can provide scientific evidence for ensuring food security under climate change. In this study, variations in climatic suitability and planting regionalization for the potato in northern China were investigated based on daily data from 1965 to 2014 collected at 321 agro-meteorological observation stations located throughout the region. Northern China was divided into three areas, including Northwest China, North China and Northeast China. The agricultural climatic suitability theory and the fuzzy mathematics method were applied. The potato growth seasons were divided into threestages:from sowing to emergence, from emergence to flowering and from flowering to maturity. The comprehensive climatic suitabilityindex (C), which varied from 0 to 1, was established to evaluate the effects of climate change on potato planting. The results showed that, from 1965 to 2014, the C value in the study area increased 0.002 every ten years over the past 50 years with an average of 0.706, benefitting potato growth in the vast area of northern China. Nonetheless, precipitation was found to be the main climatic factor restricting potato growth in northern China. For spatial distribution, the C value showed a gradually declining trend from east to west, decreasing westward and southward over the past 50 years. For the growth season, the C value varied during different potato growth stages over the past 50 years. The C value increased during the sowingemergence stage and decreased during the emergence-flowering stage and the floweringmaturity stage. The decreased C during the later growth stages would directly affect the quality and yield of the potato, mainly because the flowering-maturity stage was associated with potato tuber enlargement and starch accumulation. Variations in potato planting regionalization in northern China over the past 50 years were evident. Climate change was more beneficial to potato cultivation in northeast China where the highly suitable areas had clearly expanded. However, potato cultivation was most negatively affected in northwest China where the middle suitable areas had receded. Our findings have important implications for improving climate change impact studies and agricultural production to cope with ongoing climate change.




Zhao, J., Zhan, X., Jiang, Y., & Xu, J. (2018). Variations in climatic suitability and planting regionalization for potato in northern China under climate change. PLoS ONE, 13(9).

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