Winter Damage in Apple Trees

Winter Damage in Apple TreesWinter damage of apple trees in South Tyrolean orchards causes costs of up to 6 Mio Euros per year. There are several indications that this dieback of crown parts or even trees is related to frost drought. We analyse drought stress in numerous varieties growing at several sites and compare the drought-resistance of modern and old apple varieties. Results should enable to improve selection of varieties at critical sites and the development of cultivation techniques to avoid winter damage.

Research activities focus on

  • Correlation of micro-climatic parameters and extent of winter-damage
  • Temporal patterns of embolism formation and refilling
  • Effects of the duration of soil frost on winter-damage
  • Effects of precipitation in autumn on winter damage
  • Hydraulic efficiency and safety of apple varieties
  • Freeze-thaw induced embolism in apple trees
  • Refilling and growth of new xylem to overcome winter embolism
  • Role of water storage
  • Strategies to decrease drought stress during winter

Funding
Austrian Science Fund (FWF), L556-B16, PI: Stefan Mayr
Forschungsförderung Südtiroler Landesregierung , P7170-023-011, PI: Barbara Beikircher

Cooperation
Südtiroler Beratungsring für Obst- und Weinbau, Lana, Italy
Hervé Cochard, INRA Clermont-Ferrand, France

Personnel involved
Stefan Mayr
Barbara Beikircher
Birgit Dämon
Chiara De Cesare