Frost control: From chill hours to freezing temperatures

Frost control: From chill hours to freezing temperatures

Sensitivity to damage is greater between swollen bud and exposed bouquet.
Frost control

With the winter period, the accumulation of chill hours begins and the cherry orchards “wake up”, giving way to phenological states that range from dormant bud to maturity.

Although during the winter period frost episodes are constantly recorded, it is from the phenological stage of swollen buds that we should take special emphasis because during the initial phenological stages, temperatures lower than -0.5ºC for more than one hour, could cause damage to the plants.

“We have detected greater sensitivity to damage in the phenological stages from swollen bud to exposed bouquet and not after exposed bouquet until petal fall,” explains Carlos Tapia, specialist advisor in cherry production and Technical Director of Avium.

Although for several years in countries like Chile it was thought that frosts were more risky the more advanced the phenological stage was, various investigations and practical examples have shown greater sensitivity to damage in the aforementioned stages, which makes it essential to be prepared and initiate frost control in advance.

Another key is to have frost control systems in orchards, in order to avoid damage from frost, which occurs when ice forms inside the plant tissue. Frost can cause the same damage to various fruit species, however the consequence of freezing will depend on the phenological state of the plant when those episodes occur.

Our first concern in this first stage of the phenological stages -from swollen bud to exposed bouquet-, is to be attentive and have the frost controls that we have in each of the orchards ready, whether by water, by wind, or through the use of helicopters and tents, which, although it is not a frost control model, help us protect the temperature and avoid slightly milder frosts, (-1.0 to -1.5ºC) in a short time”. concludes the specialist.

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