The importance of shielding temperature sensors from solar radiation is understood, but there is a lack of prescriptive advice for plant scientists to build inexpensive and effective shields for replicated field experiments. Using the general physical principles that govern radiation shielding, a number of low-cost, passively ventilated radiation shields built in-house was assessed for the measurement of air temperature against the same type of sensor in a meteorological “standard” Gill radiation shield. The base shield material had high albedo (≈0.9) and low emissivity (0.03). Aspirated shields were included for simultaneous measurements of temperature and relative humidity. Differences in air temperature (ΔT) between low-cost shields and the standard Gill were greatest for shields with open bottoms (up to +7.4 °C) and for those with poorly perforated sidewalls. Open-bottomed shields were prone to heating from reflected radiation. Tube-shaped shields appeared to require more than 30% sidewall perforation for convection by ambient wind (up to 4 m·s−1) to offset the midday radiation load of the shield. The smallest daytime ΔT were between aspirated shields and the standard Gill, averaging less than ±0.5 °C. Among passively ventilated shields, the smallest daytime ΔT consistently were produced by a shield that emulated the stacked plate design of the standard Gill for a total of U.S. $4.00 in materials and 45 min construction time. Eighty-nine percent of all daytime ΔT for the “homemade Gill” shield was 1.5 °C or less. The combination of low ambient wind speed (less than 1 m·s−1) and high global irradiance (greater than 600 W·m−2) produced the largest ΔT for all passively ventilated shields, the magnitude of which varied with shield design; stacked plate configurations were more effective shields than were tube-based configurations. Nighttime ΔT were inconsequential for all shields. Cost-effective radiation shielding can be achieved by selecting shield materials and a configuration that minimize daytime radiation loading on the shield while maximizing the potential for convective transfer of that radiation load away from the shield and the sensor it houses.
Freezing temperatures in fall, winter, and spring can cause damage to multiple perennial fruit crops including northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). Predictive modeling for lethal temperatures allows producers to make informed decisions about freeze mitigation practices but is lacking for northern highbush blueberry grown in the Pacific Northwest. If buds are hardier than air temperatures, unnecessary use of propane heaters and/or wind machines is costly. In contrast, use of heaters and/or wind machines during freezing, damaging temperatures can minimize crop damage and potential yield loss. The objective of this study was to model cold hardiness across multiple cultivars of northern highbush blueberry grown in various regions in Washington, USA, and to generate predictive cold hardiness models that producers in the Pacific Northwest could use to inform freeze mitigation. Multiple years of experimental cold hardiness data were collected on four cultivars of northern highbush blueberry grown in western and eastern Washington, USA. Freeze chambers were used to reduce bud temperatures systematically, after which buds were dissected and bud survival was assessed. A generalized linear mixed model with a binomial response and logit link was fit to each cultivar to characterize the relationship between bud survival, freezer temperature, recent air temperatures, and growing degree days from fall acclimation to late winter/spring deacclimation. Model simulation was performed to obtain marginal-scale lethal temperature estimates. Model error estimation was performed using cross validation. Results show cultivar-specific cold hardiness models can be generated, and model development and use can help growers make more informed decisions regarding freeze protection that also minimizes costly applications of freeze protection when unnecessary. Furthermore, such models can be adapted to other blueberry growing regions and cultivars experiencing similar climactic conditions.