Reductions in Leaf Area Index, Pod Production, Seed Size and Harvest Index Drive Yield Loss to High Temperatures in Soybean

Charles H Burroughs, Christopher M Montes, Christopher A Moller, Noah G Mitchell, Anne Marie Michael, Bin Peng, Hyungsuk Kimm, Taylor L Pederson, Alexander E Lipka, Carl J Bernacchi, Kaiyu Guan, Elizabeth A Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improvements in genetics, technology, and agricultural intensification have increased soybean yields; however, adverse climate conditions may prevent these gains from being fully realized in the future. Higher growing season temperatures reduce soybean yields in key production regions including the US Midwest, and better understanding of the developmental and physiological mechanisms that constrain soybean yield under high temperature conditions is needed. This study tested the response of two soybean cultivars to four elevated temperature treatments (+1.7, +2.6, +3.6, and +4.8 °C) in the field over three growing seasons and identified threshold temperatures for response and linear versus non-linear trait responses to temperature. Yield declined non-linearly to temperature, with decreases apparent when canopy temperature exceeded 20.9 °C for the locally adapted cultivar and 22.7°C for a cultivar adapted to more southern locations. While stem node number increased with increasing temperature, leaf area index decreased substantially. Pod production, seed size, and harvest index significantly decreased with increasing temperature. The seasonal average temperature of even the mildest treatment exceeded the threshold temperatures for yield loss, emphasizing the importance of improving temperature tolerance in soybean germplasm with intensifying climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbererac503
Pages (from-to)1629–1641
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number5
Early online dateDec 26 2022
StatePublished - Mar 13 2023


  • climate change
  • yield
  • temperature stress
  • leaf area index
  • harvest index
  • Glycine max
  • Climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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