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Desk study on winter chill in fruit - HH3713

Description

Considerable evidence shows that recent global and UK winter temperatures have increased. Climate change scenarios have predicted this increase and current simulation models suggest that UK winters will become milder in the future. There is increasing evidence, some of which is anecdotal, that some existing perennial fruit cultivars are producing crops of reduced size and quality in parts of the southern UK, particularly in years following very mild winters. The degree to which this is true and that some cultivars are ill-adapted to cope with warmer winters urgently needs assessing.
This proposal will address Defra’s objectives as outlined in the requirements document CTC0206. In particular for top and soft fruit, and hops it will;

(i) identify the symptoms of lack of winter chill,
(ii) assess the evidence to suggest that winter chill requirements have not been met,
(iii) describe the events during winter chilling and what happens when there is insufficient chilling,
(iv) outline the winter chill requirements of various species and varieties of fruit,
(v) identify factors other than climate change that could impact on winter chilling,
(vi) identify the opportunities for the introduction of new varieties or cropping systems to mitigate climate change.

Results from the work proposed here will ensure that Defra is able to meet its objectives as described in the Horticultural Assessment Units, HH33 Landscape ecology approaches towards sustainable crop management, HH35 Sustainable Crop Nutrition, HH36 Sustainable use of natural resources and labour and HH38 Promotion of good horticultural practice. Opportunities will be explored to identify the potential avenues through which breeding technology and novel-screening approaches can be used to specifically target routes to overcome environment stress (HH35). Maximising the way resources are used effectively can only be developed through a comprehensive understanding of the future climate impacts on the crop environment, particularly with respect to increased acreage of protected cropping (HH36). It is important to understand the likely impacts of climate change on the rural landscape and to find solutions to retain the essential properties of the UK’s countryside (HH33 and HH38). The project will also develop sufficient understanding of both the positive and negative impacts prior to the introduction of novel crops and growing systems to the landscape (HH33).
This proposal aims to identify, collate and deliver a technical report describing the likely impacts of winter warming on UK horticulture. This information will be used to allow informed decisions to be made concerning: growing practice, cultivar use and the development of new cultivars. This will provide sustainable crop production in the light of changed climatic conditions. The results will be used by growers, advisers and policy makers. It will empower these groups with the means by which they can develop their own assessments for the future.
Objective
1. Identify the symptoms of lack of winter chill.
2. Assess the evidence to suggest that winter chill requirements have not been met.
3. Describe the events during winter chilling and what happens when there is insufficient chilling.
4. Outline the winter chill requirements of various species and varieties of fruit and hops.
5. Identify factors other than climate change that could impact on winter chilling.
6. Identify the opportunities for the introduction of new varieties or cropping systems to mitigate climate change.

The majority of the objectives outlined above are independent of each other. However, the scoping study will require collation of information from a number of sources, the success of this will directly impact on the sensitivity of the analysis achievable in objective 2.

The majority of the detailed analyses to be conducted at UoD/SCRI will be undertaken by a Postgraduate researcher yet to be appointed, any delay in this appointment could delay the overall project, though an appropriate individual has already been identified and other resources could be used in an interim.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Desk study on winter chill in fruit   (1826k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2004

Cost: £62,783
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Horticulture Research International
Keywords
Climate Change              
Farming              
Fruit              
Horticulture              
Fields of Study
Horticulture
Horticulture