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Caubel, J., García de Cortázar-Atauri, I., Launay, M., de Noblet-Ducoudré, N., Huard, F., Bertuzzi, P., et al. (2015). Broadening the scope for ecoclimatic indicators to assess crop climate suitability according to ecophysiological, technical and quality criteria. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 207, 94–106.
Abstract: The cultivation of crops in a given area is highly dependent of climatic conditions. Assessment of how the climate is favorable is highly useful for planners, land managers, farmers and plant breeders who can propose and apply adaptation strategies to improve agricultural potentialities. The aim of this study was to develop an assessment method for crop-climate suitability that was generic enough to be applied to a wide range of issues and crops. The method proposed is based on agroclimatic indicators that are calculated over phenological periods (ecoclimatic indicators). These indicators are highly relevant since they provide accurate information about the effect of climate on particular plant processes and cultural practices that take place during specific phenological periods. Three case studies were performed in order to illustrate the potentialities of the method. They concern annual (maize and wheat) and perennial (grape) crops and focus on the study of climate suitability in terms of the following criteria: ecophysiological, days available to carry out cultural practices, and harvest quality. The analysis of the results revealed both the advantages and limitations of the method. The method is general and flexible enough to be applied to a wide range of issues even if an expert assessment is initially needed to build the analysis framework. The limited number of input data makes it possible to use it to explore future possibilities for agriculture in many areas. The access to intermediate information through elementary ecoclimatic indicators allows users to propose targeted adaptations when climate suitability is not satisfactory.