Growth analysis of sweet chestnut burr in two seasons with differing weather conditions

Giulio Demetrio Perulli, Alexandra Boini, Kushtrim Bresilla, Brunella Morandi, Luca Corelli Grappadelli, Luigi Manfrini [Distal - Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna]

In Italy, most of the traditional sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) orchards are still non-irrigated since they are located in mountain-hill areas with climate conditions that used to be optimal to sustain the vegetative and reproductive growth of this nut tree species. Nowadays, the increase of summer temperatures and the decrease of rainfall (due to climate change) are affecting negatively chestnut physiological performances. The aim of this experiment was to study sweet chestnut burr growth in two seasons, one warm/dry and one mild/rainy (2017 and 2018, respectively). The study was carried out in a traditional rainfed chestnut orchard. The seasonal burr growth was measured weekly from 30 days after full bloom (DAFB) to the beginning of burr valves opening. Air temperature and daily precipitation were measured at a nearby weather station. The results of this study highlighted that chestnut burr growth seems to be affected by seasonal weather conditions. Indeed, in 2017, the high summer temperatures and the moderate rainfall in summer (227 mm) and winter-spring (385 mm) appeared to affect negatively burr absolute growth rate (AGR; 0.31 mm day-1) and consequently final burr size (46.2 mm). The mild and rainy weather conditions that occurred in 2018 (663 and 340 mm of winter-spring and summer precipitation, respectively) positively influenced burr AGR (0.54 mm day-1) and therefore its final size (60.8 mm). These preliminary results suggest that the introduction of irrigation as a common management practice for chestnut orchards may promote their resilience to climate change with a positive effect on their productivity and fruit quality.

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