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Challenges in predicting climate change impacts on pome fruit phenology

Abstract

Climate projection data were applied to two commonly used pome fruit flowering models to investigate potential differences in predicted full bloom timing. The two methods, fixed thermal time and sequential chill-growth, produced different results for seven apple and pear varieties at two Australian locations. The fixed thermal time model predicted incremental advancement of full bloom, while results were mixed from the sequential chill-growth model. To further investigate how the sequential chill-growth model reacts under climate perturbed conditions, four simulations were created to represent a wider range of species physiological requirements. These were applied to five Australian locations covering varied climates. Lengthening of the chill period and contraction of the growth period was common to most results. The relative dominance of the chill or growth component tended to predict whether full bloom advanced, remained similar or was delayed with climate warming. The simplistic structure of the fixed thermal time model and the exclusion of winter chill conditions in this method indicate it is unlikely to be suitable for projection analyses. The sequential chill-growth model includes greater complexity; however, reservations in using this model for impact analyses remain. The results demonstrate that appropriate representation of physiological processes is essential to adequately predict changes to full bloom under climate perturbed conditions with greater model development needed.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for providing the historical meteorological data and QCCCE and CSIRO for the climate projection data used in the analysis. We further thank Chris Turnbull and Kevin Sanders for granting access to their orchard records and experience. Finally, Kevin Hennessy (CSIRO), Ian Smith (Bureau of Meteorology) and Jim Ricketts (QCCCE) provided valuable advice on projection methodologies.

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Correspondence to Rebecca Darbyshire.

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Darbyshire, R., Webb, L., Goodwin, I. et al. Challenges in predicting climate change impacts on pome fruit phenology. Int J Biometeorol 58, 1119–1133 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-013-0705-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-013-0705-4

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Sequential chill-growth
  • Fixed thermal time
  • Climate change
  • Full bloom
  • Flowering