Dealing with the financial and emotional impact of late season frosts
Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 09 Nov 2017
The full extent of damage to crops caused by the most recent frost events in the southern cropping region is currently being determined by growers and their advisers.
At this late stage of the season it is important that growers continue inspecting crops to assess the potential impact and then make informed decisions based upon individual circumstances and professional advice.
To support growers and advisers in this process, advice and information about dealing with frost can be found at https://storify.com/theGRDC/frost or on the GRDC website. Resources include:
- The GRDC Tips and Tactics publication which offers some salvage options and coping strategies is available here;
- The GRDC Pulse and Canola Frost Identification Back Pocket Guide can assist with identifying frost damage and is available here;
- The recently released Frost – Frequently Asked Questions, a publication compiled by the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development as part of GRDC’s National Frost Initiative, can be found here;
- A GRDC guide on what to do with a frosted crop can be viewed and downloaded here;
- More information on frost management can be found via the GRDC’s suite of GrowNotes™ publications here.
Growers are advised to carefully consider the economics of available options and should seek support and advice to assist with logical decision making and assessing the impact of a frost event on their business going forward.
The GRDC recognises that crop losses caused by frost and other high-impact climatic events, especially at this late stage in the growing season, can create enormous stress for growers, so being well supported is a priority.
Pulse crops in Victoria’s Wimmera are expected to be hardest hit by the late season frosts which were also recorded in the Mallee and South-West, as well as South Australia’s South-East and the midlands of Tasmania.
Agriculture Victoria pulse agronomist Dr Jason Brand, who heads up the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Southern Pulse Agronomy program, says frost damage in chickpea and lentil crops will continue to be expressed over the coming days.
“There is little growers can do at this late stage of the season, but the key message is to keep a close eye on crops and continue to assess the damage,” Dr Brand says.
Dr Brand says although chickpeas have the capacity to reflower, warm conditions forecast over the coming week combined with anticipated high levels of frost damage will limit yield recovery in some areas.
The impact of recent frosts on broadacre crops in South-West Victoria and SA’s South-East is similarly still being fully determined with some cereal and canola crops having been affected, especially in the region from Lake Bolac to Ararat in Victoria.
With Tasmania’s cropping regions experiencing three frost events within a week, the State’s winter dryland wheat and canola crops which are at vulnerable growth stages may be seriously affected.
Growers in Tasmania are therefore advised to also continue to monitor crops for frost damage as symptoms may not be immediately evident and then determine the most appropriate cause of action, including consideration of whether to graze affected crops, cut them for hay or silage or to take them through to harvest.
GRDC Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Network member and Roberts Ltd agronomist Terry Horan says knowing the full extent of damage is the key to informed decision making.
“Don’t make decisions until you know what you are dealing with – that is my advice to growers,” Mr Horan says.
Mr Horan says many of Tasmania’s grain growers are also livestock producers which may offer viable crop salvage options in response to recent frost events, which he describes as being the worst in almost a decade.
“We have experienced a dry winter and spring so a lot of farmers are critically short of feed. I expect many frosted crops will now be grazed or cut for fodder.”
Jason Brand, Agriculture Victoria
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli