Road Blocks to Assessing Climate Impacts on Temperate Perennial Fruit — ASN Events

Road Blocks to Assessing Climate Impacts on Temperate Perennial Fruit (6395)

Rebecca Darbyshire 1
  1. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

With the advent of climate change and increasing pressure on agriculture to improve productivity, the construction of reliable assessments of climate change impacts on plant processes are now essential. These assessments can then indicate pathways to manage expected risk and highlight future opportunities. There are limited such studies for Australian temperature perennial fruit trees, hindering the industry’s ability to effectively adapt to new conditions.

Projections of future spring frost risk to apple and pear trees in Victorian orchards were constructed to illustrate the difficulties in performing these assessments. Several road blocks exist in constructing these projections including:

-          Lack of process knowledge surrounding flowering physiology

-          Method selection to represent flowering

-          Determination of frost conditions (historically and into the future)

Two methodologies to determine flowering timing as well as two approaches to determine future frost conditions were used to illustrate the divergent results possible based on method choice. The results predicted both increasing and decreasing future frost risk, dependent on method choices.

The development of robust impact statements for the fruit tree industry are critical to secure future productivity. In order to address this issue, improvements to climate information is needed, synonymous with calls from many other agricultural sectors. However and perhaps more critically, greater knowledge on tree physiology is required as are methods to represent this physiology. Without addressing these research road blocks, effective climate adaptation will remain largely unattainable.