Winter chill for apples, pears and cherries in a changing climate

Page last updated: Tuesday, 20 August 2019 - 9:23am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

As a protection mechanism from damage during harsh winter conditions, perennial fruit trees go through a period of dormancy. Dormancy is ‘broken’ when the right amount of cold weather has been accrued and warm temperatures return.  The sum of cold weather to break dormancy is known as winter chill. Research is being undertaken at four locations across Australia to assess the accumulation of winter chill and the affect this may have on apple, pear and cherry production as the climate become more variable.


Understanding chill requirements

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is part of a team working to reduce the vulnerability of the Australian apple, pear and cherry industries to the potential impacts of climate change.  The ability to accumulate sufficient winter chill in future climates is one aspect being considered through two projects:

  1. Crossing the threshold: adaptation tipping points for Australian fruit trees project is supported by funding from the Australian Government
  2. Understanding apple and pear production systems in a changing climate project is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using apple and pear industry levies and matched funds from the Australian Government.

Research is being undertaken at four locations: Tatura Victoria, Applethorpe Queensland, Manjimup Western Australia and Huon Tasmania in partnership with Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources; University of Melbourne; University of Tasmania; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland; and DPIRD.

Contact information

Susan Murphy-White
+61 (0)8 9777 0151