top of page

Study: Maize Yields Could Continue to Increase in Extreme Heat

A comprehensive study of genetic gains resulting from long term breeding work on improved hybrids and open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) in eastern and southern Africa shows that with appropriate funding, maize yields can continue to increase in extreme heat and drought conditions.

Investments into maize breeding and seed systems must expand to keep up with the capacity to withstand climate variability in the region, said Jill Cairns, one of the authors of the study, emphasizing that maize breeding is on track to meet the challenges of climate change in Africa.

The region is currently experiencing large climate variability, including the 2014-2015 drought; the 2015-2016 El Nino and severe drought and flooding in 2016-2017.

“We see evidence that increased investment works,” said Cairns, a maize physiologist with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Zimbabwe. “Although our breeding work has led to higher genetic gains, yields remain lower, reflecting smaller research investments over time. On the other hand, in countries like the United States and China, which have become the top two maize producers worldwide, we see the beneficial impact of steady investments.”


bottom of page