To stop that happening, they’ve collected more than 100,000 samples from different apple tree varieties to test them in warmer conditions and see how they respond.
“We have recorded what the bud break date is for each variety in orchards in 2020 and 2021,” said Moon Chen, a scientist at Plant and Food Research.
And they found several varieties had early bud break and low chilling requirements – ideal for breeding.
But creating a new climate-resilient apple variety is a tricky balancing act.
“We want to reduce the need for chilling but we want to increase the heat requirements for flowering time, to make sure that happens outside the frost risk,” Bus told Newshub.
It’s a project the apple industry is keeping a close eye on.
“It should allow us to keep growing apples in the regions we are already in,” Wellwood said.
Newshub asked if he’s already seen climate change’s impacts.
“We’re struggling to colour fruit in hotter conditions. Apples rely on diurnal temperature differences – warm days, cool nights,” he added.
The apple industry has several ongoing climate change projects, with the longest running being a breeding programme in Spain that began in 2022.
That project has already launched its first commercial apple variety.