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Climate induced phenological shifts in pears – a crop of economic importance in the UK

Reeves, L. A., Garratt, M. P. D., Fountain, M. T. and Senapathi, D. ORCID: (2022) Climate induced phenological shifts in pears – a crop of economic importance in the UK. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 338. 108109. ISSN 0167-8809

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2022.108109


Phenological advancements in flowering have been well documented in many food crop, ornamental, and native plant species. However, there is lack of information on how flowering times in crop species, especially fruit trees will react to future climate scenarios. This is important as changes in phenology could have significant implications for ecosystem services and function, biological interactions and agronomic outputs. Using 60 years of data from pear (Pyrus communis L.) orchards in two research organisations in Kent, UK we explored temporal changes in flowering phenology, identified the weather variables driving this change, and predicted how flowering times may be altered by 2080 with respect to future emissions scenarios. We show pear flowering (1990-2020) in the last 30 years has advanced 11.44 days compared to historical data (1960-1989). Furthermore, we highlight this advancement is apparent in all twelve pear cultivars and the four phenological stages analysed, including Conference, the most common UK pear cultivar. Our results indicate that this advancement in flowering began after 1982; that air temperature and frost days significantly impact pear flowering; and this change in flowering phenology is likely to continue under future climate scenarios. Four Representative Concentration Pathways from the UK Climate Projections 2018 report were used to model the impact of future climate, including low, medium, medium-high and high emission scenarios. Under all scenarios a phenological advancement in flowering time was predicted by 2080 with the greatest advancement in flowering time observed under the high emission scenario. Earlier flowering and budburst could result in phenological mismatches between plant and pollinators, alter agricultural spraying regimes, increase risk of frost exposure and exacerbate impacts of pest populations within an agroecosystem, thus it is vital to monitor advancements in flowering phenology.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:106343


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