Spring frosts can be disastrous to apple producers. A recent study for Styria, Austria´s key orchard region, shows a worrying connection, which is similarly relevant for e.g. Slovenia. Due to climate warming the blooming of apple trees will advance by 1.6 days per decade; shifting the vulnerable plant stage to a period for which stable high-pressure systems, and thus, cold spells are more likely to occur.

The comprehensive study (Unterberger et al., 2018), which considers climate models, apple market prizes and cost calculations for adaptation measures, outlines which actions seem adequate to minimize average annual loss. Besides regular payment of frost insurance, regular investment into energy- /water-intensive wind machines or into (ideally shared) frost protection sprinkling and on-demand helicopter usage there might be a more sustainable solution: Switching to alternative, frost-resistant or late-blooming varieties. Apple producers throughout Danube region countries would be well-advised to exchange knowhow and natural resources. Ideally, such initiatives go hand in hand with promotion of consumer acceptance.

 

Unterberger C, Brunner L, Nabernegg S, Steininger KW, Steiner AK, Stabentheiner E, Monschein S, Truhetz H. 2018. Spring frost risk for regional apple production under a warmer climate. PLoS One 13(7): e0200201.