Study launches to see how climate impacts fruit tree - Fruit & Vine

UK’s biggest ever blossom study launches to see how climate impacts fruit trees

Scientists launch the UK’s largest ever fruit tree monitoring project to understand how climate impacts fruit tree blossom.

Scientists from University of Reading launch FruitWatch project to understand how climate impacts fruit tree blossom.

The FruitWatch project, initiated by the University of Reading research team, will include the observation of peach and apricot tree flowering dates for the first time.

Rising temperatures caused by global warming mean peaches and apricots in the UK are more suitable than ever for the UK’s climate, ensuring that enough data can be recorded to observe when these trees begin to flower.

Appeal for help  

Scientists are appealing for the public’s help to work out if rising temperatures are making fruit trees flower earlier in the year and how this might vary across different parts of the UK.  

They are calling on fruit growers and nature lovers to share information when the peach, apricot, quince, sloe trees and apples, cherry, pear and plum trees come into bloom.     

PhD researcher Chris Wyver, who is running the project, said: “FruitWatch is back for a third year in 2024, and it’s bigger than ever before.   

“This year, we are asking people to monitor four new fruit trees so we can understand how climate change is interfering with the flowering dates of various trees.     

“Fruit trees are highly dependent on insect pollination to produce fruit. If rising temperatures are making fruit trees flower earlier, this could confuse bees and negatively impact pollination. Ultimately, this could mean less fruit is produced and supermarkets hike up the prices of apples and pears.”    

Photos wanted   

FruitWatch launched in 2022 when people were asked to record when apple, pear, cherry and plum trees came into bloom.   

The research team received 6,000 submissions in the first year of the programme. The early analysis of the first year of results suggests flowering dates are highly sensitive to climate change.   

Trends in blossom dates across the United Kingdom from 2022 and 2023 are set to be revealed in a soon-to-be-published study.    

How to get involved  

The research team is eager to receive plenty of submissions in 2024 to analyse the long-term effect climate change is having on the flowering of fruit trees.

To get involved, citizen scientists are being asked to make a note of when a particular fruit tree in their garden, their park, or their allotment comes into bloom.

Participants are also asked to take a photo of the tree in order to improve the reliability of the data received. These photos can also be shared on social media as part of the National Trust’s #BlossomWatch campaign.

Volunteers can submit their records at Submissions can be viewed on an interactive map of the UK.

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