Can Frost Damage be Prevented?

How to prepare for a frost before it comes to avoid or at least minimalise damage.

Recently I was listening to a talk about frost and the vineyard industry. The speaker said that basically there were only 2 things to do to avoid frost damage.

One was to buy land and plant vines in a frost free area and the other was to manage the vineyard to maximise protection. This management included time of pruning, leaving an extra cane when pruning, reducing inter row vegetation, use of windmills, helicopters, heaters, flippers and antitranspirant sprays!

Growers use one or all these methods as frost damage can cost all growers dearly over a wide range of crops. Growers have often asked us is there anything they can do to reduce the effects of frost apart from these expensive, time consuming protective methods. The answer is Yes!

Farming Secrets says there is a much easier, more cost effective and longer lasting way to reduce frost damage.

Did you know that frost damage is reduced significantly when plants are grown on biologically active soils? Why is this so?

Biologically grown plants are naturally more frost resistant.

When plants draw their nutrients naturally delivered by bacteria and fungi in the soil, the plant cells develop properties that are more resistant to frost damage like higher sugar/mineral content, smaller cells with thicker walls and they contain natural phenols.

It is reported that these plants can withstand temperatures from 2 – 6°C lower than conventionally grown crops.

Whereas a plant that cops artificial nitrogen based fertilisers is more frost prone. It is most likely to consist of bigger, more succulent, juicier cells with thinner cell walls as the plants have drawn up excessive, imbalanced less complex nutrients. So naturally when the frost comes, ice crystals easily form in the structurally weaker cells of the plant tissues causing widespread damage.A simple experiment to illustrate this point is to freeze a small quantity plain water and sugary water and see which freezes first.

So the practice finishing of a cereal crop using a dose of nitrogen pre-spring could finish it off when a heavy frost occurs.

Biologically active soils are naturally more frost resistant.

The soil itself has been recorded to have higher temperature readings. These soils are usually more than 4°C warmer compared to biologically inactive soils as is often found in conventional agriculture. It is suggested that the microbial activity in a highly active biological soil is the reason for this.