Responses of rubber leaf phenology to climatic variations in Southwest China

De Li Zhai, Haiying Yu, Si Chong Chen, Sailesh Ranjitkar, Jianchu Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The phenology of rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) could be influenced by meteorological factors and exhibits significant changes under different geoclimates. In the sub-optimal environment in Xishuangbanna, rubber trees undergo lengthy periods of defoliation and refoliation. The timing of refoliation from budburst to leaf aging could be affected by powdery mildew disease (Oidium heveae), which negatively impacts seed and latex production. Rubber trees are most susceptible to powdery mildew disease at the copper and leaf changing stages. Understanding and predicting leaf phenology of rubber trees are helpful to develop effective means of controlling the disease. This research investigated the effect of several meteorological factors on different leaf phenological stages in a sub-optimal environment for rubber cultivation in Jinghong, Yunnan in Southwest China. Partial least square regression was used to quantify the relationship between meteorological factors and recorded rubber phenologies from 2003 to 2011. Minimum temperature in December was found to be the critical factor for the leaf phenology development of rubber trees. Comparing the delayed effects of minimum temperature, the maximum temperature, diurnal temperature range, and sunshine hours were found to advancing leaf phenologies. A comparatively lower minimum temperature in December would facilitate the advancing of leaf phenologies of rubber trees. Higher levels of precipitation in February delayed the light green and the entire process of leaf aging. Delayed leaf phenology was found to be related to severe rubber powdery mildew disease. These results were used to build predictive models that could be applied to early warning systems of rubber powdery mildew disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-616
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 15 May 2019


  • Climate change
  • Oidium heveae
  • Phenology
  • Powdery mildew
  • Xishuangbanna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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