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Can frost damage impact water demand for crop production in the future?




Baraer, Michel, author
Madramootoo, Chandra A., author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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One of the most efficient techniques used to protect the buds, flowers, and fruits of apple trees against potentially damaging spring frosts, is by spraying irrigation water on the fruit trees via a sprinkler irrigation system. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impacts of global warming on frost occurrences for the fruit growing conditions in Québec, with the long-term objective being to evaluate how this will alter amounts of water used for frost protection. Frost injury risk is characterized by using a phenological model coupled with a risk index generator. The phenological model was selected amongst a group of models for its ability to maintain a satisfactory level of accuracy when tested under different climatic conditions. Based on meteorological and phenological observations on apple trees in the Monteregie region of Québec, the model calibration and validations provided evidence of the ability of the selected model to reproduce and predict frost injury risk trends. Local climatic conditions downscaled from a GCM were used to assess the effects of future climate scenarios on the risk of frost injuries. Under the tested scenario, the risk index increases significantly, suggesting that the number and / or the severity of spring frost injuries would increase in the future. This would imply that the use of a sprinkler system as a protection method against frost injuries has to be taken into consideration for the assessment of climate change impacts on overall water demands for crop water requirements.


Presented at the Role of irrigation and drainage in a sustainable future: USCID fourth international conference on irrigation and drainage on October 3-6, 2007 in Sacramento, California.

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