Blooming under Mediterranean climate: estimating chill and heat requirements of almond and apple trees (article)

Climate change, and specifically global temperature increase, is expected to alter plant phenology. Temperate deciduous fruit trees have cultivar-specific chill and heat requirements to break dormancy and bloom. In this study, we aimed to estimate chill and heat requirements (in chill portions, CP, and growing degree hours, GDH, respectively) of 25 almond (30–36 years) and 12 apple (14–26 years) cultivars grown under a Mediterranean climate. The set included early and late blooming genotypes. Long-term phenological and temperature records were analyzed by means of partial least squares (PLS) regression. The main difference between early and late genotypes was chill requirement, ranging from 8.40 CP of early genotypes to 55.41 CP of extra-late genotypes. However, as chill requirements are quite easily attained by all almond cultivars in this study, year-to-year variations in actual blooming dates for each genotype are governed by variability of mean forcing temperatures. In contrast, different chill and heat combinations resulted in similar mean blooming dates for the studied apple cultivars. Mean temperature in both chilling and forcing phases determined their blooming time in the location studied. Overlaps and gaps between both phases were obtained. Despite some limitations, the PLS analysis has proven to be a useful tool to define both chilling and forcing phases. Nevertheless, since the delineation of these phases determine the total amount of CP and GDH, further efforts are needed to investigate the transition of these phases.

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Díez-Palet, I., Funes, I., Savé, R., Biel, C., de Herralde, F., Miarnau, X., … & Aranda, X. (2019). Blooming under Mediterranean climate: Estimating cultivar-specific chill and heat requirements of almond and apple trees using a statistical approach. Agronomy, 9(11), 760.

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