Impact of weather on the spring crops yield in Croatia with emphasis on climatic change and the 2014 growing season
Main field crops in Croatia are maize, soybean, sunflower and sugar beet. By these crops are covered (status 2014) close to 50% (385 234 ha) of utilized arable land. Global warming, have often adverse influence on field crop yields. Aim of this study was testing precipitation and temperature regimes on spring crops yield in Croatia in 15-year peri...od (1999–2013) and elaboration of the 2014 growing season with aspect of climatic change. Four growing seasons (2000, 2003, 2007 and 2012) were less favorable for maize because annual yield was bellow 5 t ha-1 (average 4.38 t ha-1), while in four more favorable years (2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010) annual yield was above 6.8 t ha-1 (average 7.32 t ha-1). Average precipitation and temperature for the April-September period in Osijek were 226 mm and 496 mm, 19.6 oC and 18.6 oC, for less and more favorable years, respectively. Yields of soybeans and sugar beet have mainly similar trend as maize yields in function of weather conditions, while sunflower is more susceptible to extremely moist growing seasons (for example, 2001 and 2005: 650 mm and 697 mm precipitation and very low yields in level 1.7 and 1.6 t ha-1, respectively). On the other side, under drought conditions of 2003, 2007 and 2012, yields of sunflower were above average in range from 2.5 to 2.7 t ha-1), while at same period yields of maize, soybean and sugar beet were drastically reduced. Average precipitation in the April-September period of 2014 for eight selected sites of Croatia was 756 mm or for 68% higher in comparison with the long-term average 1961–1990 with variation among the sites from 520 mm in Osijek to 910 mm in Varazdin. On the other side, average air-temperature in 2014 was 17.8 oC or for 0.7 oC higher with variations among the sites from 17.2 oC in Daruvar and Varazdin to 18.2 oC in Osijek and 18.3 oC in Gradiste. Under these favorable weather conditions, annual yields of maize (8.1 t ha-1), soybeans (2.8 t ha-1) , sunflower (2.9 t ha-1) and sugar beet 63.6 t ha-1) were considerable higher than usual.
Nutritional imbalances accompanied with growth retardation of crops at early growth stage were found since the last 40 years on certain arable lands in eastern Croatia. In this regard, phosphorus (P) deficiencies in maize and wheat were found mainly on acid soils of the western part of the region, potassium (K) deficiencies in maize, soybean on th...e hydromorphic neutral to alkaline calcaric drained gleysols of Sava valley lowland, while zinc (Zn) deficiencies were observed mainly in seed-maize and soybean on neutral calcaric eutric cambisols of the eastern part of the region. Cold and moist spring is factor promoting P deficiency symptoms. As oasis of normal crops existed on same arable land, comparison of plant and soil composition was possible from typical sites. P nutrition disorders were in connection with the lower P and the higher aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe) concentrations in the top of plants and the lower soil pH values. K-deficiency as result of strong K fixation and imbalances with high levels of magnesium (Mg) were the main responsible factors of low maize and soybean yields on some drained gleysols. Chlorosis incidences typical for Zn deficiency in maize and soybean were in close connection with the higher soil pH, the lower quantities of mobile Zn, here and there the higher mobile P in soil, the lower concentrations of Zn and the higher levels of Al and Fe in plants. Overcoming the above mentioned disorders and normalization of yields were achieved using ameliorative fertilization either by K or P fertilizers and in case of Zn by foliar spraying of crops with 0.75% ZnSO4 solution. Also, alleviations are possible by selection of more tolerant genotypes of field crops to specific types of nutritional disorders. From this aspect, some practical solutions were recommended for maize with reference to K nutritional problems.
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