Cold hardiness of select apple cider cultivars in Canada

Publication: Canadian Journal of Plant Science
5 November 2021


There is increasing interest in growing European origin apple cultivars for the production of hard cider in Canada; however, little is known about their winter hardiness. Eleven promising cider cultivars were evaluated for cold hardiness over two consecutive winters and compared with the winter tender cultivar ‘Golden Delicious’. Sections of the current season’s dormant shoots were frozen in a series of test temperatures ranging from −20 °C to −40 °C in a programmable freezer. Xylem tissue browning ratings were used to assess injury after thawing. The temperature of incipient damage (TID), the warmest temperature at which 1-yr-old shoot segments begin to show injury, was obtained from tissue browning curves using non-linear regression. TID varied significantly among cultivars and between sampling years. Overall, the cultivars could be classified according to relative winter hardiness as follows: Ashmead’s Kernel, Bramley’s Seedling (very tender) < Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Porter’s Perfection, Bulmer’s Norman (intermediate) < Crimson Crisp, GoldRush, Golden Delicious, Enterprise, Yarlington Mill, Enterprise (hardy) < Golden Russet (hardy). These data indicate nearly a 10 °C range in winter hardiness amongst the 11 cultivars studied, depending on the sampling date. Ashmead’s Kernel and Bramley’s Seedling appear to be particularly winter tender, whereas Bulmer’s Norman, Porter’s Perfection, and Calville Blanc d’Hiver demonstrated less hardiness during three of the four sampling dates. Based upon these findings, it would be prudent to consult long-term climate normals and consider the frequency of extreme weather events for potential susceptibility to winter injury, particularly prior to establishing more injury-prone cultivars.


La culture de pommiers européens pour la production de cidre suscite de plus en plus d’intérêt au Canada. Malheureusement, on en sait peu sur la rusticité de ces variétés. Les auteurs ont évalué la résistance à l’hiver d’onze cultivars à cidre prometteurs pendant deux années consécutives puis l’ont comparée à celle du cultivar Golden Delicious, peu rustique. Les pousses d’un an en dormance ont été partiellement gelées dans un congélateur programmable, à une température de –20 °C à –40 °C. Les auteurs se sont servis du brunissement du xylème pour évaluer les dommages au dégel, ce qui leur a permis d’établir la température des dommages initiaux (TDI), c’est-à-dire la température à laquelle les rameaux d’un an commencent à présenter des dommages dus au gel, à partir de la courbe de brunissement des tissus obtenue par régression non linéaire. La TDI varie sensiblement d’un cultivar et d’une année à l’autre. Dans l’ensemble, on peut classer les cultivars comme suit, selon leur rusticité : Ashmead’s Kernel, Bramley’s Seedlings (très sensibles) < Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Porter’s Perfection, Bulmer’s Norman (intermédiaires) < Crimson Crisp, GoldRush, Golden Delicious, Enterprise, Yarlington Mill, Enterprise (rustiques) < Golden Russet (rustique). D’après ces données, la rusticité des onze cultivars examinés varie sur une plage de près de 10 °C, selon la date de l’échantillonnage. Ashmead’s Kernel et Bramley’s Seedling semblent particulièrement sensibles aux conditions hivernales, tandis que Bulmer's Norman, Porter's Perfection et Calville Blanc d'Hiver ont révélé une rusticité moins prononcée à trois des quatre dates d’échantillonnage. En raison de ces observations, la prudence commande qu’on consulte les normales climatiques à long terme et tienne compte de la fréquence des épisodes de froid extrême pour déterminer la sensibilité éventuelle des variétés plus fragiles aux dommages hivernaux avant d’en entreprendre la culture. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

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Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Plant Science
Canadian Journal of Plant Science
Volume 102Number 2April 2022
Pages: 394 - 404
Editor: Brian Beres


Received: 16 July 2021
Accepted: 25 September 2021
Published online: 5 November 2021


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Key Words

  1. hard cider
  2. European cider cultivars
  3. winter injury
  4. acclimation
  5. de-acclimation


  1. cidre
  2. cultivars à cidre européens
  3. destruction par l’hiver
  4. acclimatation
  5. perte de la tolérance au froid



John A. Cline*
Ontario Agriculture College, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, 1283 Blueline Road, Simcoe, ON N3Y 4N5, Canada.
Amanda Beneff
Ontario Agriculture College, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, 1283 Blueline Road, Simcoe, ON N3Y 4N5, Canada.
A. Michelle Edwards
Ontario Agriculture College, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.


J.A. Cline served as an Associate Editor at the time of manuscript review and acceptance; peer review and editorial decisions regarding this manuscript were handled by A.W. McKeown.

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