Whilst the cold winter snap isn’t to everyone’s taste, one person is delighted to see the arrival of the really cold weather, Goatham’s Technical Director Nigel Stewart.
Nigel explains: “We keep a very close eye on the weather over the winter months and keep a track record of the number of chill hours. If the trees get insufficient chilling, then they may suffer from delayed or uneven flowering and leafing, which can lead to poorer crops.”
“We, therefore, record the temperatures across our 25 orchards as apples need at least 820 hours and pears 620 hours of temperatures below 7.2C. This is to help the new fruit and leaf buds to develop in the spring. When flower and leaf buds are formed during the summer and autumn, growth inhibitors accumulate, preventing the buds from opening during the winter. Chilling is then required to break down these growth inhibitors and ensure the buds open at the right time of year. Each tree needs a specific number of chill hours below a certain temperature to break dormancy and that varies from variety to variety.”