Growing degree days and crop and pest development

Monday, July 8, 2019

I was talking to Michelle Cortens, Perennia's Tree Fruit Specialist, this morning and she mentioned something interesting...  By June 5th, we had achieved the status of ‘coldest spring in the last 20 years on record’. I'm sure none of you are surprised to hear that.  Many crops use a 5℃ Growing Degree Day model, while many insect pests use a 10℃ Growing Degree Day model.  

Graph courtesy of Orchard Outlook.  Click here to subscribe or read past issues.

We were pretty far behind in insect degree days by about 44-49% less than average.  By comparison, the plant development heat units were at about 21-28% of average.  Some growers may be noticing this in their fields - pests that you normally expect at, say the end of May/early June showed up later, and are continuing to cause problems longer than they normally would (i.e. flea beetle).

The good news is, now that we're starting to get some heat, Growing Degree Days are starting to look more like what you'd expect at this time of year.  We're still about 13% less plant development heat units (base 5℃) compared to the 5 year-average, and 17% less compared to the 10-year average as of July 2.  We have 25% less insect development heat units compared to the 5-year average (10℃ base), and 27% less compared to the 10-year average.

Graph courtesy of Orchard Outlook.  Click here to subscribe or read past issues.