Information to aid identification of frost damage to crops and guidance on what to do with a frosted crop are available via Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) resources.
DAFWA researcher Ben Biddulph encourages growers to monitor crops following any frost events. Photo by Sarah Jackson, DAFWA.
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) research officer Dr Biddulph, who is also Management Program leader for the GRDC National Frost Initiative, encouraged growers to check crops following frosts in various parts of the grain belt during the past month, with recent events occurring on August 19, 23 and 24.
“Once a frost event occurs – especially at or after flowering – the first step is to inspect the affected crop and collect a random sample of heads to estimate if any yield loss has been incurred,” he said.
“In the event of severe frost, monitoring needs to occur for up to two weeks after the event to detect all the damage.”
Dr Biddulph said cereal crops were most susceptible to frost damage during and after flowering and were also susceptible at the earlier stages of booting, while pulses and canola were particularly susceptible from early flowering to late pod growth, but most yield losses occurred after flowering during early seed fill.
“If frost damage is detected, the level of damage needs to be determined and the next step is to consider options for the frost damaged crop,” he said.
Dr Biddulph said the main options for managing a frost-damaged crop to the end of the season were taking the crop through to harvest; cutting and baling or silaging the crop; and grazing, manuring and crop topping.
“If damage has occurred outside critical periods in crop development, the best option may be to harvest the grain as most cereals can produce new tillers to partially compensate for damaged plants, providing spring rainfall is adequate,” he said.
Dr Biddulph said cutting crops for hay could be expensive and growers should have a clear path to market or a use for the hay on-farm before committing to this option.
The economics of grazing, manuring and crop topping also needed to be considered carefully.
A GRDC-curated stream of updates on the incidence and management of frost in 2016 is available via this link. It includes the latest social media posts, web resources, videos and research papers.
Links to information about frost identification and managing frosted crops is available via the GRDC western region Wheat GrowNotes via this link (section 11.2).
Growers are encouraged to report frost damage through the Pestfax Reporter App available on Apple App store, Google play or on the DAFWA website via this link.
A new GRDC publication Managing Frost Risk – Case studies of growers in Western Australia (accessible via this link) features growers adopting tactics to reduce the risks posed to their businesses by frost.
The GRDC has long acknowledged the severe implications of frost on crop production and since 1999 has invested about $13.5 million in more than 60 frost-related projects nationally.
In 2014, GRDC increased investments into frost research through the establishment of the five-year NFI.
This is an integrated program with a three-pronged approach addressing genetics, management and environment to mitigate the effects of frost.
Ben Biddulph, DAFWA
9368 3431, 0428 920 654
GRDC Project Code
UA00136, DAW00234, DAW00241, UA00162