Crop Frost Protection Best Practices
January 21, 2016
While farmers in cold climates are used to the effects of frost and regularly take extensive measures to avoid damage, those in more moderate climates are simply not as prepared to guard their business from loss in this area. Use these tips to ensure you make it through the each season successfully.
Critical Freezing Temperature
Educate yourself on the critical freezing temperature of your crops. This number will depend on several factors, including the difference between air and leaf temperatures, wind chill, duration of the low temperatures, stage of plant growth and overall health of the crop. The amount of damage will also depend on the crop itself – among the most frost-tender crops are strawberries, tomatoes and sugar beets.
Frost Protection Measures
Protection methods include proper site selection and use of heaters, irrigation, chemicals, and man-made fog or wind machines. The first step is choosing appropriate land by considering its elevation, water features and sun or wind exposure. It takes years of experience for some growers to understand exactly how their land affects critical temperatures, so it may be helpful to take measurements of minimum temperatures periodically to understand frost risk. The safest practice is to consult a specialist – an agricultural meteorologist or climatologist – to determine how temperature data should be interpreted and what actions are best to take.
Other protection methods vary in cost, effectiveness and associated risks. Farmers should base their decision on the proper frost protection method on the dynamics and terrain of the growing site. Whatever the method, frost protection must be executed carefully. Preparation and testing of the system should be finished well before freezing risks are present.
Crop yield, drying rate and quality may be affected in frost-damaged crops depending on the amount of harm. Contact your farm insurance broker before harvesting to avoid causing further damage and unnecessary risks. Check your specific policy to make sure you have crop damage protection. Remember, the best way to manage frost risk is to have a plan in place for cold temperatures regardless of the time of year or your location.