Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Effect of Photoperiod, Night Temperature, and Frost Incidence on Development of Frost Hardiness in Pinus radiata

DH Greer and IJ Warrington

Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 9(3) 333 - 342
Published: 1982


The role of photoperiod, night temperature, and frequency and severity of frosts on the development of frost hardiness in seedlings of Pinus radiata was studied using controlled environment treatments. In one experiment the specific effects of 9 and 14 h photoperiods and 5 and 15°C night temperatures were examined. In a second experiment, seedlings were sequentially hardened under two simulated early autumn to late winter climates, with the photoperiod and day/night temperatures progressively altered at 11 and 21 day intervals respectively. In addition, half of the seedlings raised in each simulated climate were exposed concurrently to a conditioning frost regime. Frost hardiness of the seedlings in each sequence was determined at regular intervals using a series of evaluation frosts. Frosts of between -3 and -5°C were the most effective factor in controlling the development of frost hardiness. Night temperatures as low as 1°C were also effective but not those above 5°C. A minimum photoperiod requirement of less than 11 h for up to 42 days exposure was required for low-temperature hardening. There appeared to be a response lag in the development of frost hardiness once the critical photoperiod and inductive night temperatures had been imposed.

Differences between nursery sites in frost hardiness of seedling stock were attributed to differences in their environments, particularly the incidence of frosts. The final maximum frost hardiness varied between the treatments from - 7.5 to -19°C indicating that Pinus radiata has a greater potential to develop frost hardiness than was previously thought from field observations.

© CSIRO 1982

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