BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Thu Sep 13 09:58:07 CEST 2007






Frost damage in cereals can cost Australian graingrowers up to $100 million


But help is at hand, with the release of the first comprehensive practical
guide to frost risk management that will help growers minimise and manage
frost risk.


'Managing Frost Risk', a joint publication between ConsultAg in WA and the
South Australian Research and Development Institute, is the outcome of five
years of Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded frost
agronomy research.


The GRDC supported guide will help growers make frost management decisions
on high risk paddocks, especially in the southern and central wheatbelt.


WA cereal growers lost 700,000 tonnes to frost in 2005, costing them around
$90 million.


Co-author Garren Knell of ConsultAg, WA, said the frost booklet discussed
the economic impact of frost for growers, focusing heavily on maximising
returns and minimising risk.


"Growers face sudden crop death with frost, compared to drought, which they
can see develop and put plans in place," he said.


"With frost, crops can make it all the way through the growing season when
all the inputs have been invested, but one or two cold spring nights can
wipe a million dollars off a grower's potential income."


The booklet details how to avoid or minimise frost and assess damage,
explaining what growers can do with frosted crops to maximise returns that
year or beyond.


It also explores options for frost management, highlighting crop choice,
sowing time and variety selection as the most important management factors.


Mr Knell said varying sowing times and variety maturities across frost prone
paddocks was a useful strategy to fight early or late frost risks.


"On frost prone sites in WA, later sown wheat crops can avoid frost and out
yield early sown frosted wheat," he said.


"Long season wheat varieties are better at avoiding frost damage, generating
comparable returns to short season varieties, especially if sowing is


"Frost prone soils are usually more forgiving of delayed sowing and longer
season varieties because of their ability to store soil moisture.


"However, it's important to only delay sowing on paddocks identified as high
frost risk, since the opportunity cost of delaying sowing on low frost risk
sites can be prohibitive," Mr Knell said.


Manipulating soil heat and crop canopy could also reduce frost risk.


"In the trials documented in the guide, delving subsoil clay into sandy
soils reduced frost damage and increased crop yields by up to 80 per cent
because temperatures were two degrees warmer at canopy height," he said.


"Although there's no 100 per cent protection against frost, the booklet
provides WA growers with support, guidance and comfort to reduce frost's
impact," Mr Knell said.


To purchase a copy for $20, contact HYPERLINK
"mailto:ground-cover-direct at canprint.com.au"ground-cover-direct at canprint.com
.au or Freecall 1800 110 044.


ConsultAg is organising a frost risk management training course to
complement the book. Interested growers can contact ConsultAg, Tel 08



Authorised by GRDC and issued on its behalf by Brendon Cant & Associates,
Tel 08 9384 1122

MEDIA CONTACT: Garren Knell, Tel 08 9881 5551





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