News & Media

Frost and field day reminder

Released on

Released on:
Wednesday, 14. September 2022 - 14:15

Recent cooler minimum temperatures in the Grainbelt have prompted a reminder for growers to check crops for frost damage and to save the date for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) annual Dale field day.

The latest in frost identification, management and research will be discussed at the end of September event.

A three year project examining the use of chemical and biological products that inhibit ice nucleating bacteria (INB) to reduce frost risk, with co-investment from Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), will be examined.

This research continues to assess how wheat genotypes vary in their ability to host INB, building on previous findings that suggest variation occurs with seedborne INB populations.

The new initiatives build on research that identified INB infection in older leaves of wheat and stubble could trigger freezing at temperatures as warm as -4.7 and -5.7C respectively, while uninfected plants can remain supercooled up to -8C.

Pre-breeding research to develop new chickpea varieties more suited to cooler areas of Western Australia’s Grainbelt will also be profiled, providing local growers with increased crop diversity and market opportunities.

DPIRD research scientist Amanuel Bekuma said the research, with GRDC co-investment, was focused on finding chickpea lines that tolerated cooler average temperatures, below 15C.

“The two main types of chickpeas, desi and kabuli, typically abort flowers and fail to set viable pods when mean daily temperatures dip below 15C,” Dr Bekuma said.

“While plants can keep flowering as the weather warms up, there is not enough time for chickpea pods to form and fill late in the season – compromising yield and quality.

“This research aims to improve phenotyping and validation methods in the field and identify lines tolerant to chilling that can set pods at temperatures under 15C.”

There have been localised reports of frost damage in the south eastern Grainbelt in recent weeks, although it can take five to 10 days for symptoms to become clearly visible.

DPIRD research scientist Brenton Leske recommends growers check lower lying parts of paddocks for frost damage first, starting with light textured soils and assess a plant every 20 to 30 paces.

“It is important for growers in affected areas to get into their crops and inspect plants for frost damage in the head, stem, flowers and developing grains,” Dr Leske said.

“Wheat and barley crops are most susceptible to frost damage after head emergence, although cereal crops can also be at risk during the early booting and grain filling stages.

“Canola and pulses are most susceptible at the end of flowering and during early grain fill.”

Growers are advised to wait until the full extent of frost damage is apparent before making crop management decisions in association with their consultant.

The Dale field day will be held on Wednesday, 28 September commencing 10am. For more information and to register contact or telephone 9368 3161.

DPIRD has a range of resources available to assist growers to assess crops and evaluate subsequent management strategies available from its Season 2022 webpages, which can be accessed via its homepage

Two men in a green crop
DPIRD research scientists Dr Brenton Leske and Dr Amanuel Bekuma are working on a range of frost projects to be profiled at the Dale field day on 28 September.

Media contacts:

Megan Broad/Jodie Thomson, media liaison            

+61 (0)8 9368 3937