Frost management strategy yields best results

The West Australian
Department of Agriculture and Food research officer Ben Biddulph assesses frost induced sterility in flowering Hindmarsh barley at Newdegate last week (Sept 2015). Credit: Sue Knights.
Camera IconDepartment of Agriculture and Food research officer Ben Biddulph assesses frost induced sterility in flowering Hindmarsh barley at Newdegate last week (Sept 2015). Credit: Sue Knights. Credit: Sue Knights

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

Department of Agriculture and Food WA research officer Ben Biddulph said frost caused significant damage to crops in many parts of the grainbelt last 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,” he said.

Department trials, as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s 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, many growers will dry sow their wheat crops, while in other areas of the grainbelt 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.

For more information on the other tactics, refer to Managing Frost Risk Tips and Tactics on the GRDC website.

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