Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Fall 2014


Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2015


Copyright © 2015 Taylor Nissen


The research for this project was conducted at an orchard 12 miles north of Lincoln, Nebraska. The climate data came from the far north side of Lincoln, Nebraska. This study used a mixed methods approach to combine quantitative and qualitative data retrieved. The purpose of the study was to come to conclusions as to where fruit ripening patterns and production can look for the future, to bring about an estimation of fruit ripening patterns based on climate to help stimulate more production and efficiency for businesses and because knowing what climate trends will allow for new growth in Nebraska down the road has a big potential production value. The question being investigated was, “What effects will a higher minimum temperature in winters, varying start/finish/lengths of growing seasons and similar changing climate patterns have on fruit ripening patterns in Nebraska?” My proposed hypotheses were that there have been higher minimum temperatures which allow more varieties of fruit in northerly locations, an earlier start to the growing season would mean an earlier harvest, an earlier end of the growing season would mean an earlier harvest or smaller harvest and a longer length of growing season would mean harvest would be further from the start of the growing season. Samples of several peach and apple varieties were collected and the date of ripening was recorded for 2013 and 2014. Climate data was analyzed for the timing of the growing season, along with year round minimum and maximum monthly temperatures and minimum temperatures for winters for the past 40 years and back to 1887 for trends with future projections. With a comparison of climate trends and fruit ripening dates, it was found that increases in February temperatures has the biggest effect on when trees will be ripe in the summer and fall. A warming in February will start the reproductive cycle of the tree earlier. Trends in warmer February temperatures means there will be earlier bud breaks in the future, while April minimum temperatures dropping means there is a higher chance for buds and/or blooms to freeze and hurt production in the future.