Late planting has great potential to mitigate the effects of future climate change on Australian rain-fed cotton

Muhuddin Rajin Anwar, Bin Wang, De Li Liu, Cathy Waters

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    The rain-fed cotton industry in Australia is vulnerable to climate change due to its high dependence on seasonal climate and summer rainfall. The rain-fed cotton in eastern Australia is increasingly being incorporated into cereal crop rotations due to government regulation of water resources, restricting opportunities for irrigated cotton. The accurate quantification of future climate impacts on exposed cropping systems such as rain-fed cotton is required to identify effective agronomic practices and inform strategic industry planning for the expansion of Australian cotton industry. Our study utilized 32 General Circulation Model (GCMs) for four cotton-growing regions representing the geographic range of cotton production in eastern Australia. We assessed the climate impacts on rain-fed cotton yield for two future periods (2040s and 2080s) under the RCP4.5 (low) and RCP8.5 (high) emissions scenarios employing the processed-based APSIM-Cotton model. Our results showed that current cotton yields varied with planting date, and the magnitude of yield change was consistent with regional climate variations at four locations representing the current geographic distribution of rain-fed cotton production. Means from multi-GCM ensemble showed growth period temperature increased more under RCP8.5 in the longer-term (2080s). Growth period rainfall changes had significantly positive effects on yield at all planting dates over each site. The projected increases in rainfall were more evident at later planting dates for dry sites than early planting dates at wet sites. In addition, we found planting date had the greatest influence on cotton yield at wet sites, while GCMs accounted for a large portion of variation in cotton yield at dry sites. We conclude that later planting has a great potential to increase rain-fed cotton yields. This provides important insights for regional-specific adaptation strategies for the rain-fed cotton industry in eastern Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number136806
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2020


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