Chilling Requirement – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Horticultural Terms Glossary

What is a chilling requirement?

A chilling requirement refers to the amount of cold temperature exposure that a plant needs in order to break dormancy and resume normal growth and development. This requirement is typically measured in chilling hours, which are the number of hours that a plant is exposed to temperatures between 32°F and 45°F (0°C and 7°C). Chilling requirements are essential for many plant species, particularly those that are grown in temperate climates where winters are cold.

How do chilling requirements vary among different plant species?

Chilling requirements can vary significantly among different plant species. Some plants, such as apples and peaches, have high chilling requirements and need a certain number of chilling hours in order to produce flowers and fruit. Other plants, such as strawberries and blueberries, have lower chilling requirements and can tolerate milder winters.

What happens if a plant does not receive enough chilling hours?

If a plant does not receive enough chilling hours, it may fail to break dormancy properly and may exhibit delayed or abnormal growth. This can result in poor fruit production, reduced yield, and overall decreased plant health. In some cases, plants that do not receive enough chilling hours may not produce any fruit at all.

How can chilling requirements be met in a controlled environment?

In a controlled environment, such as a greenhouse or a growth chamber, chilling requirements can be met by manipulating the temperature and light conditions. By exposing plants to the appropriate chilling temperatures for the required amount of time, growers can ensure that their plants receive the necessary chilling hours to break dormancy and resume normal growth.

Are there any strategies to help plants with high chilling requirements in regions with mild winters?

In regions with mild winters, growers may need to implement strategies to help plants with high chilling requirements receive the necessary cold exposure. One common strategy is to plant cultivars that have lower chilling requirements or are more tolerant to warmer temperatures. Another strategy is to artificially chill plants by using refrigeration units or cooling systems to simulate winter conditions.

How can chilling requirements affect fruit production in orchards?

Chilling requirements play a crucial role in fruit production in orchards, particularly for tree fruits such as apples, peaches, and cherries. If orchard trees do not receive enough chilling hours, they may fail to produce flowers and fruit, resulting in poor yields and economic losses for growers. By understanding and meeting the chilling requirements of their orchard trees, growers can ensure healthy growth, abundant fruit production, and successful harvests.