Skip to main content

Future risk of frost on apple trees in Japan


We investigated the spring frost risk over the main apple production areas in Japan under future climates using multiple sets of global circulation models and scenarios. Frost risk was judged by the daily minimum air temperature. Apple phenology was estimated with a phenology model under future meteorological conditions. Since spring cold hardiness of apple trees depends on the phenophase, we took the effect into consideration by decomposing the season into three phenophases. April temperatures are projected to increase by 0.5–2 °C for 2031–2050 and 1.5–6 °C for 2081–2100 relative to that of 1981–2000, depending on the climate models and scenarios. Spring phenology will advance by 10 days or more for the highest temperature increase case for 2081–2100. Frost risk will not monotonically change with the future temperature increase. For the scenario with the temperature increase by 1–2 °C in spring, corresponding to the medium temperature increase case among our simulation cases, frost risk will be maximized in the southern Tohoku region and central highlands, where frost risk is relatively high under the current climates. Frost risk will tend to decrease for the highest temperature increase case. During bud break to foliation, apple trees will be in highest frost risk under future climates.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9


  • Asakura T (2011) Model Prediction of the spring phenology for ‘Fuji’ apple. Acta Horticulturae 903:1135–1140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chmielewski F-M, Müller A, Küchler W (2005) Climate changes and frost hazard for fruit trees. Annalen der Meteorologie 41(2):488–491

    Google Scholar 

  • Eccel E, Rea R, Caffarra A, Crisci A (2009) Risk of spring frost to apple production under future climate scenarios: The role of phonological acclimation. Int J Biometeorol 53:273–286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (2019), FAOSTAT,, Accessed May 13, 2019

  • Fukushima Prefecture (2019) available from, Accessed May 29, 2019

  • Hoffmann H, Rath T (2013) Future bloom and blossom frost risk for Malus domestica considering climate model and impact model uncertainties. Plos One 8(10):e75033.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ito D (2019) Development of forecast model of bud break and blooming dates of apple cultivar ‘Fuji’ for regional analysis. Agricultural Meteorology in Tohoku 63:28–29 (in Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaukoranta T, Tahvonen R, Ylämäki A (2010) Climatic potential and risks for apple growing by 2040. Agric Food Sci 19:144–159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kuryu K, Yamada T, Ichida S, Takahashi M (1977) A survey on the injury of apples caused by the late frost in Aomori, 1975. The Bulletin of the Aomori Field Crops and Horticultural Experiment Station 2:45–85 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (2005) Crop Survey 2004, available from, Accessed May 29, 2019 (in Japanese)

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (2007) Crop Survey 2006, available from, Accessed May 29, 2019 (in Japanese)

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (2019) Crop Survey 2018, available from, Accessed Nov 27, 2019 (in Japanese)

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (2018) The 92nd statistical yearbook of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Japan, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, pp.812

  • Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (1988) Land Use Fragmented Mesh Data (1987 survey), National Land Numerical Information,, Accessed May 29, 2019

  • Sakuma N, Saito Y, Nagayama K (2013) Risk prediction models of frost damage during flower bud development for four deciduous fruit species. Hort Res (Japan) 12(4):403–409 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Seino H, Kimura S, Kishida Y (1981) An estimation of low temperature duration and high temperature duration from minimum and maximum temperatures. J. Agr. Meteorol. 37:123–126. (in Japanese)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sugiura T, Yokozawa M (2004) Impact of global warming on environments for apple and Satsuma mandarin production estimated from changes of the annual mean temperature. J Japan Soc Hort Sci 73(1):72–78 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sugiura T, Kuroda H, Sugiura H (2007) Influence of the current state of global warming on fruit tree growth in Japan. Hort Res (Japan) 6(2):257–263 (In Japanese with English abstract)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Unterberger C, Brunner L, Nabernegg S, Steininger KW, Steiner AK, Stabentheiner E, Monschein S, Truhetz H (2018) Spring frost risk for regional apple production under a warmer climate. Plos One 13(7):e0200201.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • van Vuuren DP, Edmonds J, Kainuma M, Riahi K, Thomson A, Hibbard K, Hurtt GC, Kram T, Krey V, Lamarque J-F et al (2011) The representative concentration pathways: an overview. Clim Change 109:5–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vitasse Y, Schneider L, Rixen C, Christen D, Rebetez M (2018) Increase in the risk of exposure of forest and fruit trees to spring frosts at higher elevations in Switzerland over the last four decades. Agric For Meteorol 248:60–69

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The major part of this study was supported by the Regional Adaptation Consortium Project (Hokkaido-Tohoku region), directed by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. Japan NUS Co., Ltd. (JANUS) coordinates the project for the region. Validation data for the phenology model in Supplementary material were provided from fruit-related experimental laboratories of prefectures in the Hokkaido-Tohoku region, joining the Consortium Project. 1 km gridded climate change scenarios over Japan (NARO2017) by SI-CAT (Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology), directed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, were used for this study. National Land Numerical Information is downloaded from the website of National Spatial Planning and Regional Policy Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. We acknowledge three anonymous reviewers for their comments.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yoshimitsu Masaki.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material


(PDF 2.24 mb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Masaki, Y. Future risk of frost on apple trees in Japan. Climatic Change 159, 407–422 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Climate change
  • Cold hardiness
  • Frost risk
  • Phenology