Managing frost risk

Page last updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2023 - 7:54am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Frost occurs on clear nights in early spring when the air temperature drops to 2°C or less. Crop damage from frost may occur at any stage of development but is most damaging at or around flowering. Currently growers don't have management or genetic strategies that ensures complete frost tolerance, however there's various risk management options that have been proven to reduce frost risk. This includes paddock zoning, crop and variety selection, time of sowing, stubble management and managing inputs. This page discusses these options in detail.

Zoning - position in the landscape

The cold air mass that comes with a frost is similar to pouring liquid nitrogen on a flat table - if you tilt the table the liquid nitrogen will slide down the surface. A frost is similar because the cold air will pool in lower areas where the air has nowhere to escape. The identification of frost prone zones would help to inform crop choice and time of sowing. In addition, in the event of a frost, knowledge of susceptible areas would help inform salvage options, for example cutting for hay and/ or grazing. After a significant frost year, harvest offers the opportunity to map frost affected areas which would help inform management strategies for the following season. 

Climate resources

Frost risk maps are produced July to October each year for growers and advisors to observe the severity and occurrence of frost events for the south west land division. These maps aid in strategic monitoring of crops for frost damage and help inform salvage options.  Historic maps have been compiled annually from 1975 showing the occurrence and severity of frost events for each month (July, August, September and October). The August, September and October data has then been combined to show occurrence and severity over these sensitive months in one map.

The Extreme weather events tool uses data from DPIRD's extensive weather station network to map extreme temperatures, either below or above a specified threshold. It provides real-time information about the location, duration and severity of frost and heat stress events, to help grain growers manage accordingly to reduce their financial impact.


Contact information

Amanuel Bekuma