Plant–atmosphere heat exchange during wind machine operation for frost protection

Judith Boekee*, Yi Dai, Bart Schilperoort, Bas J.H. van de Wiel, Marie-Claire ten Veldhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Downloads (Pure)


To mitigate spring frost damage, fruit farmers use wind machines to mix warm overlying air down to the vegetation. Up to this point, studies on wind machine efficiency have focused on air temperatures. The temperature of different plant organs during operation remains unknown, while critical for the actual degree of frost damage. With Distributed Temperature Sensing we measured vertical in-canopy air temperature profiles in a pear orchard in the Netherlands and thermistors were installed to determine the plant tissue temperatures. We found that to optimize wind machine operation, it is important to consider two effects of a wind machine: (1) mixing of stratified air above and into the canopy layer and (2) erosion of the leaf boundary layer to facilitate plant–air heat exchange. We show how foliage reduces plume penetration to the ground with distance to the wind machine. Due to this blocking at least 15 rotations (∼ 75 min) are needed for optimal mixing. Leaf temperatures lag behind air temperatures, due to strong radiative cooling. We found that over the rotation cycle of a wind machine the temperature difference between leaf and air is variable as convective warming repeatedly dominates over radiative cooling. This is different for flowers and shoots due to different heat capacities. Thin flower petals store little heat and are almost in direct equilibrium with air temperature changes. Shoots, with their higher heat capacity and lower surface/volume ratio, store more heat during the day that is slowly released at night. This discrepancy between plant and air temperature should be considered for frost damage prediction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109312
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Agriculture
  • Frost mitigation
  • Leaf energy balance
  • Micro-meteorology
  • Wind machine


Dive into the research topics of 'Plant–atmosphere heat exchange during wind machine operation for frost protection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this