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Drought effects on root and tuber production: A meta-analysis

Roots and tubers such as potatoes and cassava rank within the top six among the world’s most important food crops, yet the extent to which their global production has been adversely affected by drought remains unclear. Greater uncertainties exist on how drought effects co-vary with: (1) root and tuber species, (2) soil texture, (3) agro-ecological region, and 4) drought timing. It is often assumed that potato is drought-sensitive whereas cassava and sweet potato are resistant to drought, but this assumption has not been quantitatively tested. To address these uncertainties, we collected literature data between 1980 and 2015 that reported monoculture root and tuber yield responses to drought under field conditions, and analyzed this large data set using meta-analysis technique. Our results showed that the amount of water reduction was positively related with yield reduction, but the extent of the impact varied with root or tuber species and the phenological phase during which drought occurred. In contrast to common assumptions regarding drought resistance of certain root and tuber crops, we found that yield reduction was similar between potato and species thought to be drought-resistant such as cassava and sweet potato. Here we suggest that drought-resistance in cassava and sweet potato could be more related to survival rather than yield. All root or tuber crops, however, experienced greater yield reduction when drought struck during the tuberization period compared to during their vegetative phase. The effect of soil texture on yield reduction was less obvious, and similarly we did not find any significant effects of region (and related climatic factors) on either yield reduction or drought sensitivity. Our study provides useful information that can inform agricultural planning, and influence the direction of research for improving the productivity and resilience of these under-utilized crops in the drought-prone regions of the world.

Authors: Stefani Daryanto, Lixin Wang, Pierre Jacinthe

Subjects: Drought resistance


Publisher: Elsevier

Publication Date: 2016


Rights: © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Cassava, Drought, Potato, root, Sweetpotato, tuber


Daryanto, Stefani, Lixin Wang, and Pierre-André Jacinthe. "Drought effects on root and tuber production: A meta-analysis." Agricultural Water Management 176 (2016): 122-131.