Chilling and daylength requirements for dormancy release and budburst in dormant beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) buds have been studied in cuttings flushing in controlled environments after different durations of outdoor chilling. Non-chilled buds sampled in mid October required long days (LD) only for budburst. Buds chilled until March still required LD for normal budburst, whereas buds sampled in November and December were unable to sprout regardless of daylength conditions and would do so only after a substantial period of chilling. Four ecotypes of distant latitudinal and altitudinal origin responded very similarly with a typical quantitative photoperiodic response. In fully chilled shoots sampled in March only 13 to 40% budburst took place in 8-h SD and only after three times as long time as in continuous light. It is concluded that this dual dormancy control system ensures optimum winter stability in trees under conditions of climatic warming. In the closely related Carpinus betulus L. budburst was unaffected by daylength.