Farm Management

Variety mix and timing key to minimising frost impact

Growers are reminded to factor in frost mitigation into their seeding programs through the use of multiple wheat varieties and time of sowing.

WA Department of Agriculture and Food research officer Ben Biddulph said frost caused significant damage to crops in many parts of the grainbelt in the 2016 season, highlighting the importance of having a comprehensive frost management strategy in frost prone areas.

“To decrease the risk and impact of sporadic frosts, growers can use multiple varieties to target flowering throughout the optimal window,” Dr Biddulph said.

WA Department of Agriculture and Food trials, as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) National Frost Initiative, compared a range of wheat varieties across a range of sowing times for their response to frost.

“After little rainfall in April 2017, many growers will dry sow their wheat crops, while in other areas of the grain belt that received patchy rainfall events, there has been some planting into wet profiles,” Dr Biddulph said.

“In both cases using both long and mid-spring maturity varieties will help manage frost risk.

“Research from the wheat frost benchmarking trial sites at Brookton demonstrated that the long and mid-long spring types, such as Yitpi and Magenta, sown into wet soil profiles return increased yield from moderately early sowing dates (early to mid May).

“The mid spring types such as Mace and Scepter are more suited to mid to late May sowing.

“To manage frost risk when dry sowing, planting a range of these maturity types can ensure the whole program does not have the same establishment and subsequent flowering window.”

Dr Biddulph said frost was difficult to manage.

“Variety by time of sowing will only form one part of a growers’ frost management strategy so it’s important to consider pre-season, in-season, and post frost event management tactics to customise a management plan,” he said.

More information is available from on the other tactics please refer to Managing frost risk Tips and Tactics on the GRDC website.

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