rows of corn in a field
A Pennsylvania cornfield in 2010.

Corn is one of the planet’s most important crops. It not only provides sweet kernels to flavor many dishes, but it’s also used in oils, as a sweetener syrup, and as a feed crop for livestock. Corn has been bred to maximize its yield on farms around the world.

But what will happen under climate change? Research led by the University of Washington combined climate projections with plant models to determine what combination of traits might be best adapted to future climates. The study used projections of weather and climate across the U.S. in 2050 and 2100 with a model that simulates corn’s growth to find the mix of traits that will produce the highest, most reliable yield under future conditions across the country.

The open-access paper was published in April in Environmental Research Food Systems. UW News asked senior author Abigail Swann, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences and of biology, about the study and its findings.

Read the full Q&A on UW News »