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How To Protect Your Plants And Trees From Frost Damage

Frost season is just around the corner for almond growers in California, and at the same time rains are making it hard to get in orchards to get systems ready for the season. Extreme weather phenomena, such as fires, earthquakes, heat waves, cold fronts, and floods are becoming more and more common. One of these extreme weather events is the drop of temperature below 32˚F, namely frost. When a drop in temperature occurs out of season, the plants are ill-equipped to cope with it on the physiological level, and they suffer severe damage as a result.

Two Types Of Frost

1) Advection frost

Also known as windy frost or black frost occurs when a cold front moves into an area quickly accompanied by winds above 5 mph bringing the temperature below 32˚F. There is little to no protection for this type of frost.


2) Radiation frost

It is the frost we have an opportunity to manage. It occurs when the sky is clear, and the winds are calm, and temperatures drop below freezing. As the temperature drops the cold air moves lower. We have ways to reduce or eliminate the damage caused by this type of frost.


Know When Frost Will Occur With Jain Logic Frost Alerts

Jain Logic has alert windows connecting to any sensors in the field. Some examples of sensors include soil moisture, wind, pressure switches or temperature. For frost protection growers select a temperature reading for when they want to be alerted. So when the temperature drops below 34˚F or any temperature, you choose the grower is alerted. These alerts can be email, voice message to a cell phone or landline, or text message. This alert gives growers time to start their pumps and begin frost protection by sprinklers. You can even set multiple alerts for different temperatures to provide early detection so you can manage more efficiently.

You can read about how frost alerts made a considerable difference for Agri-valley customer and fig grower Jim Reese here.

Overhead sprinkler irrigation is a widespread practice for frost protection. It provides excellent frost protection if the application rates are sufficient and the application is uniform. Drawbacks of this method are large water consumption; ice loading can cause branch damage; root disease can be a problem in poorly drained soils. Waterlogging and soil erosion may also be a problem due to a large amount of water needed for overhead full cover frost protection.

You can read about some JAIN products growers use to protect plants from freezing here.

You can also read suggestions about protecting crops from freezing temperatures from Michigan State University here.

You will find a JAIN Logic - Alerting Tools Features & Options Help video explaining steps to set up and manage alerts including frost alerts inside of JAIN Logic

Like most challenges, growers face there are no guaranteed easy solutions for frost protection. Hopefully, now you have some additional ideas of how to combat this potentially expensive weather phenomenon.

Thanks to Tom Devol and NAANDANJAIN for their contributions to this article.


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Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association's Board of Directors and is a University of California Master Gardener. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.

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