Climatic Change

, Volume 137, Issue 3–4, pp 541–556 | Cite as

A crop and cultivar-specific approach to assess future winter chill risk for fruit and nut trees

  • R. DarbyshireEmail author
  • P. Measham
  • I. Goodwin


Anthropogenic climate change will influence winter chill accumulation, with future declines likely in temperate locations. However, these declines only translate as impacts when cultivar winter chilling requirements are not satisfied. This study presents a methodology to evaluate future impacts of declining winter chill through a cultivarspecific approach which is useful for growers, industry and policy-makers to develop adaptation strategies. A risk based system was applied to represent the likelihood of meeting cultivar chilling requirements using low, medium, medium-high and high risk ratings based on percentiles. This was combined with climate projection uncertainty graphically at 16 Australian growing districts historically (1981–2010) and for 2030, 2050 and 2090. The results demonstrated that impacts and likely adaptation options differed between cultivars, some recording limited risk at all sites out to 2090 ('Nonpareil' almond) whilst others recorded greater risk both historically and into the future ('Chandler' walnut). Notably, risk differed across sites and with the future time period. These results highlight which cultivars are susceptible to low winter chill conditions, where this risk does and does not manifest and the different time horizons at which the risk will materialise across Australia's main growing districts. Using this approach, changes in winter chill conditions are presented in a useable form which allows for appropriate climate adaptation strategies to be developed, securing the industries into the future.


Crop Type Chilling Requirement Dormancy Breaking Climate Impact Assessment Risk Appetite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Mark O’Connell , Jennifer Whitney and Walnuts Australia for advice on cultivar selection and Australian growing regions. Funding for this research was provided by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Supplementary material

10584_2016_1692_Fig6_ESM.gif (108 kb)

Fig. 1 Projected chill conditions for 12 sites not included in Fig. 4. Black bars represent the historical range, blue and red bars represent best and worse-case scenarios for each project time period, respectively. Numbers across the range is the chill portion accumulation for the 10th and 90th percentiles. (GIF 108 kb)

10584_2016_1692_MOESM1_ESM.tiff (35 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 35888 kb)
10584_2016_1692_Fig7_ESM.gif (102 kb)

(GIF 102 kb)

10584_2016_1692_MOESM2_ESM.tiff (35 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 35888 kb)


  1. Alexander LV, Arblaster JM (2009) Assessing trends in observed and modelled climate extremes over Australia in relation to future projections. Int J Climatol 29(3):417–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allderman LA, Steyn WJ, Cook NC (2011) Growth regulator manipulation of apple bud dormancy progressions under conditions of inadequate winter chilling. S Afr J Plant Soil 28(2):103–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkinson CJ, Brennan RM, Jones HG (2013) Declining chilling and its impact on temperate perennial crops. Environ Exp Bot 91:48–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baldocchi D, Wong S (2008) Accumulated winter chill is decreasing in the fruit growing regions of California. Clim Chang 87:S153–S166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Campoy JA, Ruiz D, Egea J (2011) Dormancy in temperate fruit trees in a global warming context: a review. Sci Hortic 130(2):357–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Campoy JA, Ruiz D, Allderman L, Cook N, Egea J (2012) The fulfilment of chilling requirements and the adaptation of apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) in warm winter climates: an approach in Murcia (Spain) and the Western Cape (South Africa). Eur J Agron 37(1):43–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Charrier G, Bonhomme M, Lacointe A, Améglio T (2011) Are budburst dates, dormancy and cold acclimation in walnut trees (Juglans Regia L.) under mainly genotypic or environmental control? Int J Biometeorol 55(6):763–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chmielewski FM, Blümel K, Pálešová I (2012) Climate change and shifts in dormancy release for deciduous fruit crops in Germany. Clim Res 54(3):209–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clarke JM, Whetton PH, and Hennessy KJ (2011) Providing application-specific climate projections datasets: CSIRO’s climate futures framework. In: F. Chan, D. Marinova and R.S. Anderssen (Editors), MODSIM2011, 19th international congress on Modelling and simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, Perth, Western Australia, pp. 2683–2690. ISBN: 978-0-9872143-1-7.Google Scholar
  10. CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (2015) Climate change in Australia information for Australia’s natural resource management regions: technical report. CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  11. Darbyshire R, Webb L, Goodwin I, Barlow S (2011) Winter chilling trends for deciduous fruit trees in Australia. Agric For Meteorol 151:1074–1085CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Darbyshire R, Webb L, Goodwin I, Barlow EWR (2013) Impact of future warming on winter chilling in Australia. Int J Biometeorol 57(3):355–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dennis FG (2003) Problems in standardizing methods for evaluating the chilling requirements for the breaking of dormancy in buds of woody plants. Hortscience 38(3):347–350Google Scholar
  14. Erez A (2000) Bud dormancy; phenomenon, problems and solutions in the tropics and subtropics, temperate fruit crops in warm climates. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, pp. 17–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Erez A, Fishman S, Linsley-Noakes GC, Allan P (1990) The dynamic model for rest completion in peach buds. Acta Hortic 279:165–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Finetto GA (2014) An investigation of chilling requirement of some scab resistant apple cultivars in Po Valley. Acta Hortic:115–122Google Scholar
  17. Fishman S, Erez A, Couvillon GA (1987a) The temperature dependence of dormancy breaking in plants—mathematical analysis of a two-step model involving a cooperative transition. J Theor Biol 124:473–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fishman S, Erez A, Couvillon GA (1987b) The temperature dependence of dormancy breaking in plants: computer simulation of processes studied under controlled temperatures. J Theor Biol 126(3):309–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ghariani K, Stebbins RL (1994) Chilling requirements of apple and pear cultivars. Fruit Varieties J 48(4):215–222Google Scholar
  20. Guo L, Dai J, Ranjitkar S, Xu J, Luedeling E (2013) Response of chestnut phenology in China to climate variation and change. Agric For Meteorol 180:164–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guo L, Dai J, Wang M, Xu J, Luedeling E (2015) Responses of spring phenology in temperate zone trees to climate warming: a case study of apricot flowering in China. Agric For Meteorol 201:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hennessy K, Clayton-Greene K (1995) Greenhouse warming and vernalisation of high-chill fruit in southern Australia. Clim Chang 30:327–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jones D, Wang W, Fawcett R (2009) High-quality spatial climate data-sets for Australia. Aust Meteorol Oceanogr J 58:233–248Google Scholar
  24. Joyce C (2015) PGA chill newsletter. Pistachio Growers’ Association, July, p. 6Google Scholar
  25. Jun M, Knutti R, Nychka DW (2008) Spatial analysis to quantify numerical model bias and dependence: how many climate models are there? J Am Stat Assoc 103(483):934–947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Linvill DE (1990) Calculating chilling hours and chill units from daily maximum and minimum temperature observations. Hortscience 25(1):14–16Google Scholar
  27. Luedeling E (2012) Climate change impacts on winter chill for temperate fruit and nut production: a review. Sci Hortic 144:218–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Luedeling E, Brown P (2011) A global analysis of the comparability of winter chill models for fruit and nut trees. Int J Biometeorol 55(3):411–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Luedeling E, Gebauer J, Buerkert A (2009a) Climate change effects on winter chill for tree crops with chilling requirements on the Arabian peninsula. Clim Chang 96:219–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Luedeling E, Zhang M, McGranahan G, Leslie C (2009b) Validation of winter chill models using historic records of walnut phenology. Agric For Meteorol 149:1854–1864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Luedeling E, Zhang MH, Girvetz EH (2009c) Climatic changes lead to declining winter chill for fruit and nut trees in California during 1950-2099. PLoS One 4(7):e6166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Luedeling E, Girvetz EH, Semenov MA, Brown PH (2011) Climate change affects winter chill for temperate fruit and nut trees. PLoS One 6(5):e20155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Luedeling E, Guo L, Dai J, Leslie C, Blanke MM (2013) Differential responses of trees to temperature variation during the chilling and forcing phases. Agric For Meteorol 181:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mahmood K, Carew JG, Hadley P, Battey NH (2000) The effect of chilling and post-chilling temperatures on growth and flowering of sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.). J Hortic Sci Biotechnol 75(5):598–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Measham PF, Quentin AG, MacNair N (2014) Climate, winter chill, and decision-making in sweet cherry production. Hortscience 49(3):254–259Google Scholar
  36. Miranda C, Santesteban LG, Royo JB (2013) Evaluation and fitting of models for determining peach phenological stages at a regional scale. Agric For Meteorol 178-179:129–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moise A et al. (2015) Evaluation of CMIP3 and CMIP5 models over the Australian region to inform confidence in projections. Aust Meteorol Oceanogr J, (accepted).Google Scholar
  38. Moss RH et al. (2010) The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature 463(7282):747–756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Oukabli A, Bartolin S, Viti R (2003) Anatomical and morphological study of apple (Malus X domestica Borkh.) flower buds growing under inadequate winter chilling. J Hortic Sci Biotechnol 78(4):580–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Palasciano M, Gaeta L (2012) Chilling requirements of ten sweet cherry cultivars grown in Apulia region (Southeast Italy). Palmero, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  41. Perez FJ, Ormeno JN, Reynaert B, Rubio S (2008) Use of the dynamic model for the assessment of winter chilling in a temperature and a subtropical climatic zone of Chile. Chilean J Agric Res 68:198–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Petri JL, Leite GB (2004) Consequences of insufficient winter chilling on apple tree bud-break. Acta Hortic 662:53–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pistachio Growers’ Association (2015). Total Production of Pistachio. < >
  44. Pope K (2015) Fruit & nut crop chill portions requirements. The University of California, < >.
  45. Ramírez L, Sagredo KX, Reginato GH (2010) Prediction models for chilling and heat requirements to estimate full bloom of almond cultivars in the Central Valley of Chile. Acta Hortic 872:107–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ruiz D, Campoy J, Egea J (2007) Chilling and heat requirements of apricot cultivars for flowering. Environ Exp Bot 61:254–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Saure MC (1985) Dormancy release in deciduous fruit trees. Hortic Rev 7:239–300Google Scholar
  48. Seif El-Yazal MA, Rady MM (2012) Changes in nitrogen and polyamines during breaking bud dormancy in " Anna" apple trees with foliar application of some compounds. Sci Hortic 136:75–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Selvaraju R, Gommes R, Bernardi M (2011) Climate science in support of sustainable agriculture and food security. Clim Res 47(1–2):95–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Smith I, Chandler E (2010) Refining rainfall projections for the Murray Darling Basin of south-east Australia-the effect of sampling model results based on performance. Clim Chang 102:377–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sunley RJ, Atkinson CJ, Jones HG (2006) Chill unit models and recent changes in the occurrence of winter chill and spring frost in the United Kingdom. J Hortic Sci Biotechnol 81(6):949–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Viti R et al. (2010) Effect of climatic conditions on the overcoming of dormancy in apricot flower buds in two Mediterranean areas: Murcia (Spain) and Tuscany (Italy). Sci Hortic 124(2):217–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Voller CFP (1986) Predicting rest-breaking: principles and problems. Deciduous Fruit Grower 36(8):302–308Google Scholar
  54. Webb LB et al. (2012) Earlier wine grape ripening driven by climate warming and declines in soil water content. Nat Clim Chang 2:259–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Whetton P, Hennessy K, Clarke J, McInnes K, Kent D (2012) Use of representative climate futures in impact and adaptation assessment. Clim Chang 115:433–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhang J, Taylor C (2011) The dynamic model provides the best description of the chill process on ‘Sirora’ pistachio trees in Australia. Hortscience 46(3):420–425Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural SciencesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Tasmanian Institute of AgricultureUniversity of TasmaniaTasmaniaAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and ResourcesVictorian GovernmentTaturaAustralia

Personalised recommendations