|Heat is considered to be a major stress limiting crop growth and yields. While important findings on the impact of heat on crop yield have been made based on experiments in controlled environments, little is known about the effects under field conditions at larger scales. The study of Deryng et al (2014 Global crop yield response to extreme heat stress under multiple climate change futures Environ. Res. Lett. 9 034011), analysing the impact of heat stress on maize, spring wheat and soya bean under climate change, represents an important contribution to this emerging research field. Uncertainties in the occurrence of heat stress under field conditions, plant responses to heat and appropriate adaptation measures still need further investigation.