The temperature plays a crucial role in the growth and development of fruit trees. While optimal temperature promotes healthy fruit production, excessively low temperatures can have a detrimental impact on the entire tree, from flowers and fruits to leaves, roots, and stems. During the winter when a temperature drops more than 10 degrees Celsius can result in unfavorable consequences. In winter, temperature fluctuations can cause significant damage to fruit trees. Understanding how low temperatures affect fruit crops is essential for taking appropriate measures to protect them and ensure a good harvest. In this blog, we will explore how low temperatures affect fruit crops and how. they can be protected from low temperatures.

Major Impact of Low Temperature on Crop Physiology.

Low temperatures can have a significant impact on fruit crops, affecting them in two distinct ways: during their growth and development, and post-harvest storage.

During Growth:

Low temperatures can slow down or even halt key physiological processes like cell division, photosynthesis, and respiration. This can lead to stunted growth, delayed flowering and fruiting, and reduced fruit yield. Additionally, cold stress can damage plant tissues, making them more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases.

Post-Harvest:

Low temperatures can cause chilling injury in certain fruits. This manifests as visible damage like pitting, discoloration, and softening, impacting the fruit’s quality, marketability, and shelf life. Chilling injury can occur even at temperatures slightly above freezing, particularly for fruits originating from tropical or warm temperate regions

Let’s See The Impact of Cold Weather On Major Fruit Crops

Impact on GrapeVineyards:

Grapevines, particularly when they are in the budding stage, are vulnerable to frost. Frost can damage the tender buds, leading to reduced grape production for the season by impacting their growth, development, and fruit quality.

  1. Reduced Growth and Development: Cold temperatures can slow down or even halt important physiological processes in grapevines, such as cell division, photosynthesis, and respiration. This can lead to stunted growth, delayed flowering and fruiting, and reduced yield.
  2. Chilling Injury: Chilling injury occurs when grapevine tissues are exposed to temperatures below freezing for extended periods
  3. Increased Susceptibility To Disease: Cold stress can weaken grapevines and make them more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases.

Impact on Citrus

Citrus trees are sensitive to frost, especially during their flowering stage.

  1. Chilling Injury: Exposure to temperatures below a certain threshold (usually around 5°C) can cause chilling injury, leading to visible blemishes like pitting, discoloration, and rind breakdown. This significantly reduces the marketability and quality of citrus fruits
  2. Delayed Ripening: Cold temperatures can slow down the ripening process, resulting in late harvests and potentially impacting fruit quality and flavor.
  3. Flower Damage: Cold spells during flowering can damage delicate flower buds, leading to reduced fruit set and ultimately lower yields.

Impact on Banana crops

  1. Discoloration: The peel develops a dull, grayish-brown appearance, losing its vibrant yellow color.
  2. Surface Pitting: Small, brown spots appear on the peel, making the banana look unappealing
  3. Loss of Texture: The flesh becomes mushy and mealy, losing its firm and desirable texture.
  4. Reduced Shelf Life: Chilling injury significantly reduces the shelf life of bananas, making them more susceptible to spoilage and waste.

Also Read: An Overview Of Best Plant Growth Regulators In India

Measures to Reduce the Effects:

For Vineyards

  • Apply 500 grams of lime per tree for established trees, while for new plantations, apply 250 grams of lime per tree. Additionally, provide 100 grams of muriate of potash per tree.
  • Provide protection to vines, branches, and ropes during the night by covering them with sacks, black plastic, or any other suitable material.
  • Regularly water the vineyards. Water helps in increasing soil temperature.
  • Cover the vines, buds, and stems with sacks, plastic, or any other protective material during the night.
  • Sprinkle water on the vines and soil around them during the evening to increase temperature.
  • Apply phosphate and potash fertilizers.

For Citrus

  • Water Management: Ensure proper watering before freezing nights. Moist soil retains more heat and can buffer against low temperatures. However, avoid overwatering as excessively wet soil can also be detrimental to the trees
  • Tree Wrapping: Wrap the trunk of younger citrus trees with commercial tree wrap or burlap to prevent bark damage from frost.
  • Apply Bordeaux pest on trunks.
  • Citrus-Specific Protective Products: There are commercially available anti-frost sprays or coatings formulated specifically for citrus trees. These can provide a temporary protective layer against frost.

As citrus is sensitive at the flowering stage. Manage flowering season, as per the local condition.

For Banana Orchards

  • Use plastic or straw to cover the roots of banana plants.
  • Apply a solution of 0.2% borax to the plants.
  • Apply 500 grams of lime per tree for established trees, while for new plantations, apply 250 grams of lime per tree. Additionally, provide 100 grams of muriate of potash per tree.
  • Give watering to the orchard in the evening. It will help to raise the temperature.

General Tips for All Fruit Crops

  1. Soil Moisture: Maintain soil moisture levels before expected cold spells. Moist soil retains more heat and releases it slowly, buffering plants against extreme temperature drops.
  2. Pruning and Timing: Strategic Pruning: Prune plants before cold weather hits, removing dead or weak branches. This helps plants direct energy towards healthy growth and reduces areas susceptible to cold damage.
  3. Moisture Retention: Apply antitranspirant sprays to plant leaves after cold weather to reduce water loss through transpiration. This protective film conserves moisture, reducing stress on plants.
  4. Fertilization and Nutrient Support: Administer fertilizers or nutrients to plants after cold spells. These supplements aid recovery, replenishing nutrients and promoting vigorous growth.
  5. Heat Sources or Frost Prevention Methods: Use heaters, lights, or sprinklers during cold periods to generate warmth. These methods prevent freezing and provide protection against extreme cold for plants
  6. Monitoring Weather Conditions: Stay informed about upcoming cold spells and take proactive measures to protect your trees.

Conclusion

It is crucial to take proactive measures to protect fruit orchards from extremely low temperatures. Adequate care and timely actions can help mitigate the adverse effects and ensure a healthy and productive yield. By picking the best spots for planting, covering trees, managing irrigations, utilization of different anti-transpirant sprays as well and nutritional management can help to save our valuable crops from low temperatures. Along with these measures, follow preventive measures like the use of windbreaks, and resistant varieties that will help reduce costs. All these activities and information will enhance the life of orchards and give good guilt year after year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the primary effects of cold weather on fruit crops?

Answer: Cold weather can harm fruit crops by damaging delicate blossoms, slowing growth, altering ripening processes, and causing internal damage, affecting taste and market value.

2. Which major fruit crops are particularly susceptible to cold damage?

Answer: Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, bananas, and grapes are highly vulnerable to damage from cold weather, impacting their quality, yield, and marketability.

3. How does cold weather affect the internal structure of fruits and plants?

Answer: Freezing temperatures cause the water inside fruits and plants to expand, damaging cells and leading to internal breakdown, making fruits susceptible to rot and poor growth.

4. What preventive measures can farmers take to protect their fruit crops?

Answer: Measures include windbreaks and coverings, soil moisture management, site selection for planting, mulching, strategic pruning, and timing management for planting and harvesting.

5. Are there curative measures to help fruit crops recover from cold damage?

Answer: Yes, post-cold pruning, antitranspirant sprays, fertilization, protective coverings, and using heat sources or frost prevention methods can aid in recovery and protect against further damage.