University of Reading launching another large-scale study to monitor fruit trees and climate

Fresh Fruit Portal

Scientists from the University of Reading in the UK will conduct the country’s largest-ever fruit tree monitoring project. It will include the observation of peach and apricot tree flowering dates for the first time.  

FruitWatch aims to understand how climate impacts fruit tree blossoms. The effort is an interactive project that depends on the public’s help to determine if rising temperatures are making fruit trees flower earlier and how this might vary across the UK.

In a release, the university said rising temperatures caused by global warming mean peaches and apricots are more suitable than ever for the UK’s climate. Data collection will help inform growers on when these trees begin to flower.  

To record the data, the team is calling on members of the public to tell them when blooming in their area begins for peach and apricot trees, as well as quince, sloe trees, apples, cherries, pears, and plums.  

“FruitWatch is back for a third year in 2024 and it’s bigger than ever before,” said Chris Wyver, PhD researcher at the University of Reading.

“This year, we are asking people to monitor new fruit trees so we can understand how climate change is interfering with the flowering dates of various trees.”

Wyver, who is running the project, said the ultimate concern is the reliance of fruit trees on insect pollination to produce.

“If rising temperatures are making fruit trees flower earlier, this could confuse bees and negatively impact pollination. Ultimately, this could mean less fruit is produced and supermarkets hike up the prices of apples and pears,” he said.

Photos wanted 

FruitWatch launched in 2022 when people were asked to record when apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees came into bloom. 

The research team received 6,000 submissions in the first year of the program and early analysis of the first year of results suggests flowering dates are highly sensitive to climate change. 

Trends in blossom dates across the United Kingdom from 2022 and 2023 are set to be published soon.   

To get involved this year, citizen scientists are asked to make a note of when a particular fruit tree in their garden, park, or allotment comes into bloom. Participants are also asked to take a photo of the tree to improve the reliability of the data received. These photos can also be shared on social media as part of the National Trust’s #BlossomWatch campaign. 

Participants can submit their records at and submissions can be viewed on an interactive map of the UK.



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