This book examines the quantitative role of respiration in the growth and productivity of major field crops, an issue of profound significance for theoretical and applied plant sciences. The biochemistry and physiology of crop plants are coupled to a functional model that considers respiration in terms of growth and maintenance components. Using this model as a framework for evaluating existing data, the author discusses the efficiency of crop respiration and the gains in productivity that may be made by manipulating respiration rate through breeding or management. The book also critically evaluates competing theories in areas of research still lacking data and provides an up-to-date summary of the literature on the subject. Readers will gain firm awareness of the important part respiration plays in the growth and carbon economy of crops, as well as of plants in general.