Orchards Need Winter Chill
- All fruit orchards (apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots) need winter rest with chill to prepare for the next season’s crop
- Winter chill is the amount of hours that the temperatures fall in a range of 32 to 45 degrees for apples or pears, or 35 to 55 degrees for cherries or summer fruit. One hour equals one chill unit.
- Apples need 500 to 1100 chill units, pears need 500 to 1500 chill units, and cherries and summer fruit need 800 to 1600 chill units.
- Winter chill helps fruit trees store energy for the upcoming growing and fruiting season
- Orchards that have proper chill will produce a more flavorful and higher quality crop
Winter Snow Insulates Orchards
- Snow is an insulator for fruit orchards in the winter. It serves as a blanket for trees to protect their roots from freeze during severe cold temperatures.
- High elevation orchards get a later start to spring because the snow there is the last to melt
- Compost is applied to the base of the trees in the fall. As spring nears and the snow melts, the compost is fed deep into the trees’ roots in order to deliver the best nutrients throughout the growing season.
Winter Pruning Prepares Next Year’s Crop
- Trees are dormant, or in a resting state, during the winter season
- This is the best time for growers and their crews to prune trees
- Each tree is pruned carefully to ensure great sunlight penetration for producing fruit
- Pruning allows growers to balance the crop load on their trees
- Pruning balances leaves and fruit growth in the spring and summer to deliver high quality fruit in better sizes