Breeding wheat for resilience to increasing nighttime temperatures

Kathleen Russell, David A. van Sanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Increases in global mean temperature since 1960 are largely attributed to the rise in minimum nighttime temperatures thereby decreasing diurnal temperature variation. Increased night temperatures are known to affect crop development. A multi-year study investigating the effects of increased night temperatures on soft red winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) varieties was conducted during the 2015-2016 growing seasons at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington, KY. Thirty-six cultivars and breeding lines were chosen based on their genotypes at photoperiod and vernalization loci. This material was planted in a randomized complete block experiment with two replications and two environments, control and passively warmed. To create a passively warmed environment, thermal covers were mounted to frames in plots and connected to a datalogger programmed to cover plants from dusk to dawn based on coordinate location. Night temperature increases ranged from 0.27-0.75 C above ambient temperature. Grain yield, averaged across genotypes, was significantly reduced in the passively warmed environment by 224 kg ha−1 (p ≤ 0.05) or 6.44%; however, yield response to environment varied among genotypes with several genotypes displaying an increased yield in the warmed environment. Yield reductions may reflect reduced nitrogen utilization (9.4%; p ≤ 0.001) under increased night temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number531
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Climate
  • Heat stress
  • Nitrogen use
  • Photoperiod
  • Soft red winter wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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