Farm Management

New resource can help answer frost questions

What does frost damage look like? How do stubble loads affect frost severity? How do I harvest a frosted cereal crop? What management options do I have to minimise frost damage?

These questions and more are addressed in Frost – Frequently asked questions – a publication compiled by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) National Frost Initiative (NFI).

GRDC Informatics manager Hollie Webster said the publication was designed to provide guidance to growers and advisers seeking information about management issues relating to frost damage to cereal crops – a significant annual production constraint for the Australian grains industry.

“Frost can affect crops in several complex ways and this easy-to-read resource includes answers to many questions asked by growers about this crop production issue, which is uniquely challenging due to its sporadic nature, unpredictability and the occasional magnitude of its severity,” she said.

“The information it contains incorporates findings from projects being conducted as part of the NFI – an integrated program which combines frost management, environment and genetics research, development and extension (RD&E) programs.”

Frost – Frequently asked questions includes diagrams, detailed images and descriptions to determine whether plants are frost damaged or not, as well as links to further information.

DPIRD development officer Kelly Ryan said the publication had been produced in response to concern from growers across the grainbelt who experienced widespread crop damage from multiple frost events in 2016.

“Frost is a very multifaceted phenomena, with multiple issues affecting its severity and duration,” Ms Ryan said.

“This user-friendly document harnesses and simplifies a wealth of scientific and anecdotal information to assist growers to better understand what influences frost severity on different crops, the extent of subsequent damage and what mitigation options are available.”

Dr Webster said total GRDC investments into frost research were about $11 million for the period 2003-13 and, since then, investment had increased significantly – with 2014-19 NFI projects alone totalling about $20 million.

She said recent research had found that a frost event is often preceded by a rapidly developing blocking anticyclone, or an area of high pressure. This finding had been established by an NFI investment project conducted by CSIRO and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Source: GRDC

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