UACES Facebook Chilling Hour Reports
Arkansas Fruit, Vegetable and Nut Update

Chilling Hour Reports

by Amanda McWhirt - December 4, 2017

Chilling Hour Accumulation for two locations in AR updated monthly

About the first of February is when growers start to wonder, “How many chill hours have we gotten?” If you grow fruit it is probably on your mind as the calendar is quickly turning over toward spring. In an effort to better track and report chilling hours we will be updating a page on our website with the number of chilling hours we have accumulated at our research stations in Hope and Clarksville, AR. The post will be updated monthly.

Click here for the link to where chilling hours will be posted each month (this is the page you should bookmark!).

 The chilling hour accumulation for Clarksville in November is already posted on the website.

As we get more data we plan to expand the report to more locations.

And if you don’t know what chilling hours are or why they are important here is a quick review!

 

 What are chilling hours and why are they important?

Chilling hours are important because they regulate the plant's ability to 'wake-up' after their dormant period in winter. During the cold dormant period the plant essentially accumulate signals within their tissues that indicate when it is time to 'wake up'.

Different crops require a different amount of these signals before they are ready to break dormancy. Once the required number of signals is reached and temperatures warm, an alarm goes off within the plant telling it to wake itself up! We monitor chilling hours because it is a means to know when plants will be ready to break dormancy in the spring.

The rate of accumulation of these signals within the plant varies based on temperature. The ideal temperature for plants to accumulate chilling hours is 45°F, but it is generally assumed that temperatures between 35-45°F provide good chilling hour accumulation. At temperatures below 35°F, generally no chilling is accumulated.

As you will see below there are several ways to calculate chilling hours. Some models assign different rates of chilling hour accumulation to different temperatures. Some models deduct chilling hours when temperatures go over 60°F. The Utah model is the standard model used for fruit crops.

Once the adequate number of chilling hours has been reached and temperatures warm the plant will be ready to break dormancy and buds will begin to grow and the plant will flower. For this reason it is important to choose varieties that have similar chilling requirements as what is received at your location. This will ensure in most years adequate chilling is achieved and that plants do not come out of dormancy before the winter is over.

Cold damage to emerged buds is common when low chill varieties are planted in an area that receives medium to high chilling hours on average.

For example: A peach variety with a 200 chilling hour requirement planted in a place with 700 average chilling hours is likely to break bud if an un-seasonal warm spell occurs once the 200 hours have been met. However there is still likely to be 500 more hours of cold temperatures for that location! This peach variety is likely to experience cold damage to blooms in most years.

Serious impacts to plant growth occur when insufficient chilling hours are accumulated during the dormant period.

 Symptoms of Lack of Chilling Hours: 

  • delayed bloom
  • reduced fruit set
  • reduced fruit quality

 

Average Regional Chilling Hour Accumulation in Arkansas

Average chilling hour accumulation has fluctuated drastically in recent years from previous standards. For this reason we plan to post the number of chilling hours accumulated here for each year. More locations will be added as we are able to access that data.

Average Chilling Hours Accumulated by March 1st for Major Locations in AR* from 1990-2000:

U of A Campus, Fayetteville-                    1,024

Fruit Research Station, Clarksville-          1,081

Southwest Research Station, Hope-          901

Wynne, AR-                                            1,069

*Source: Vance, L and C. Rom. Chill and Heat Accumulation at Four Sites in AR, 1990-2000. Horticultural Studies. AAES Research Series 494. (Calculations were based on the Utah model)

 

Chilling Requirements for Fruit Crops

Crop

Avg Chilling Hours Required

Apple

 800-1,000

Blackberry

200-600 

Blueberry, Northern Highbush

900-1,000

Blueberry, Southern Highbush

150-500 

Blueberry, Rabbiteye

400-700

Cherry

700-1,000+ 

Fig

100-200 

Grape- table, wine

100-600 

Grape- Muscadine

200-600 

Nectarine

 400-900+

Peach

300-800 

Pear

400-900

Plum

400-700

Strawberry

200-300