Corn, wheat, rice among crops facing future climate troubles

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Soybeans aren’t the only type of crop that looks as if it will encounter serious growing problems because of climate change.

In the United States, the vast majority of corn is grown from genetically engineered seed. Here, a central Illinois Farmer harvests his corn crop.

Photo by Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

In the United States, the vast majority of corn is grown from genetically engineered seed. Here, a central Illinois Farmer harvests his corn crop.

Wheat, corn, rice and sorghum are among a number of crops that also face uncertain futures because of increasing temperatures, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Arizona.

Researchers looked at 236 different types of grasses, studying how long it took them to develop niche adaptations.

“What we found was that they do not change all that much – a few degrees Celsius over a million years. There are just small changes over long timescales,” co-author and professor of John Wiens told BBC News, which did a write-up on the study.

The means plants won’t have time to adapt to new conditions created by climate change and could possibly stop growing in certain locations. It’s unlikely species would go entirely extinct worldwide, though.

Researchers said that in order for domesticated plants — or plants used as crops – to continue to thrive in their current locations, genetic variations from wild species of these types of grasses will have to be used to modify current crops’ genetic makeups.

Still, this modification might not work because wild species may be unable to grow in certain areas they’re already in, even with genetic variations.

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