How to protect your crops from frost

Winter is a time when many plants have a hard time. Especially if we are in a really cold climate where the first frosts begin even in early autumn.

However, there are several methods, both direct and indirect, to reduce the damage that frost can cause. Let’s see them.

METHODS TO ENSURE THE SURVIVAL OF YOUR PLANTS IN WINTER

Although we are directly thinking of direct methods such as covering the plants with padded materials, protecting them in greenhouses or applying heating, there are a number of indirect, totally inexpensive methods that can help us when the frost season comes.

For example, choose the planting time .

Well, the latter is only limited to short cycle crops like most vegetables and greens, but it is not applicable for trees and other ornamentals.

As an introduction to know the different types of frost that exist, it is recommended that you take a look at our article on frost.

THE CHOICE OF SPECIES AGAINST FROST

It seems silly but it is an obvious fact.

Choosing the most resistant variety of all the species of a plant genus can solve many problems.

Sometimes, there are differences of several degrees of tolerance and it allows to generate a certain resistance to frost.

However, the biggest problems caused by subzero temperatures are not the temperature itself, but the exposure time.

What is preferable, withstand -20 ºC for 30 seconds or – 4 ºC for half an hour?

We prefer the former, and plants too.

INTERESTING FARMING OPERATIONS

Over the years, farmers have acquired techniques that help mitigate the effects of harsh frosts on their crops.

It has been shown that the groove, the orientation of the orchard, the formation of furrows and their depth, the depth at which the seed is sown and the planting frame are characteristics that directly influence the resistance of crops to cold.

The influence of the subscriber also plays a role. A nitrogen incorporation in the middle of cold season is totally inadvisable , since the vegetative development and increasest favors plant exposure to frost.

However, it is proven that a good potassium and phosphorus fertilizer increase the resistance of crops to cold.

DIRECT METHODS OF CROP PROTECTION

The above methods are simple techniques to apply and at zero cost. The problem is that what easy comes, easy goes, and they are not a totally effective medium when it is really cold.

At this point you have to consider using direct means that increase the temperature of the environment. Of course, they cost quite a bit of money.

HEAT PRODUCTION

The cold is fought with heat and for this reason this method consists either in the production of radiant heat or in heating the air by means of convection mechanisms. Wood burning is an inexpensive and useful technique as long as there is not excessive wind.

It is advisable when the frosts are not excessively intense. As an example tell you that to compensate for the cold of a strong frost, about 1,000 kg of firewood per hour and hectare would be needed .

Something that no one can afford.

Stoves fueled by oil or other combustion elements are a favorable method designed for severe frosts.

The normal thing is that they have gasoline tanks and use this fuel, since it is easily accessible, but propane or natural gas can also be used.

Usually up to 200 burners are used for a single hectare. As you can see, it is an expensive but effective method and is often only used when the crop has a great economic value.

GREENHOUSE PROTECTION

Obviously this part does not deserve much mention. Clearly higher temperatures are achieved in the greenhouse than outside, so it is already an excellent means of protecting crops.

Often times, if we live in a cold area, it will be necessary to have heaters.

For small crops or seedlings, which are the ones that suffer the most, you can buy protective nets . They reduce the effect of the wind and increase the temperature of the cellular juice by a few degrees.

It can help you reduce frost-affected breakouts.

IS IT GOOD TO WATER BEFORE FROST?

Totally. Although if we think about it coldly, our head would say the opposite (you would be forming ice!) It has its reason for being and we are going to comment on it.

When it is cold it is important that there is a positive temperature difference between the ground and the aerial part.

At the end of the day, if the roots remain at a good temperature, it is possible that the plant can re-sprout after being damaged by cold.

For this reason, when there is a layer of ice or snow on the ground, since it is a good insulator, the ground remains relatively warm while it is cold in the air … the less interesting.

However, that is not the goal.

We do not want to form a layer of ice so that the soil remains warm by insulation, but rather that in the passage of water from a liquid state to ice heat is transferred to the atmosphere , thus reducing the cooling of plant organs.

This watering before a frost is very interesting, but there are many parameters that must be controlled. Which?

  • Volume of water needed for each square meter of crops
  • Droplet diameter
  • Sprinkler irrigation arrangement
  • Watering time and start-up
  • Rotation speed of the sprinkler

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