Focus on frost

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Dr Juan Juttner, senior manager discovery, GRDC.

With frost costing growers tens of millions of dollars annually across Australia’s cropping zones, it is not surprising that frost resistance is at the top of many grain growers’ research and development wish list.

While it is unlikely that total immunity to frost can be delivered in cereals, the GRDC is making a considerable investment to reduce the frost susceptibility of Australian wheat and barley crops through a combination of genetics and crop management research.

This Ground Cover Supplement details the scope of the GRDC frost investment across each of its cropping zones.

A major aim of the investment is to incorporate frost-resistance traits, sourced both internationally and from within the existing Australian cereal collection, into new varieties better adapted to frost-prone environments.

The genetic research component of the GRDC frost initiative is a significant undertaking and like all pre-breeding programs will take considerable time. If suitable traits are found the plan is to start to deliver these genes to Australian cereal breeding programs by 2026 (Frost gene search turns international).

The objective of the initiative is to deliver wheat frost resistance at least equivalent to that of the most frost tolerant Australian barley varieties.

Related Video

Research to rank cereal varieties for frost susceptibility

Still of video player with image from GCTV Frost Susceptibility video overlaid with red play button

Frost susceptibility ranked: GRDC-funded research is ranking wheat varieties for frost susceptibility. But how is it done? This video explains.

In the shorter term, research is underway to evaluate management practices that can be used to either avoid or lessen the impact of frost.

A range of pre-crop and in-crop management practices are being investigated, the details of which can be found in this supplement.

Stubble management (Stubble lifts frost severity) is emerging as a promising pre-crop tool to lessen the impact of frost. Preliminary research indicates that high stubble loads exacerbate frost damage by restricting the amount of heat stored in the soil and radiated into the canopy at night.

In-crop frost management practices being examined include crop grazing (Crop grazing could reduce frost risk) and the potential for spray-on products to be used to protect growing crops from imminent frost events (Crop grazing could reduce frost risk).

The frost management research will use the field frost measurement knowledge and capacity developed under past and present GRDC-supported frost projects including the Australian National Frost Program.

The unpredictable and sudden nature of frosts makes planning for them extremely difficult. Effective frost management will require a range of tools that enable crops to avoid, tolerate or recover from frost events.

The GRDC frost initiative will run until 2019 and has been designed to tackle frost from several angles and deliver growers a combination of genetics and management solutions. The GRDC will continue to update growers on the progress of the research projects outlined in this supplement.

More information:

Dr Juan Juttner,
senior manager discovery, GRDC,
02 6166 4558,


Focus on frost

Region National, North, South, West