Wasting no time minimizing yield loss from frost damage

Apart from a significant reduction in available irrigation water in February, California growers also faced unexpected spring frost spells. Unexpected frost accompanied by hotter than expected February temperatures meant that although most deciduous trees were still dormant, early nut and stone fruit cultivars started to bloom and were at great risk. Almonds require a high flower percentage to produce good yields, so unexpected frost can lead to a marginal crop causing great economic losses. 

Frost after bud break is detrimental to crop growth, as the newly formed tissue is not hardened against freezing conditions. The susceptibility of reproductive buds to freezing increases from bud break until small nut stages, at which point frost is most detrimental. Unexpected frost during a period of well-synchronized bloom can cause major crop loss, as most flowers are then equally susceptible. The extent of damage depends on the duration of exposure to freezing temperatures. The longer these temperatures last,  the more tissue and buds are affected. In addition, pest and disease pressure during spring can increase the susceptibility to frost damage, as they provide nucleation sites from which damaging ice crystals start to grow.

Short terms effects of frost include:

  • Death of buds (reduced sprouting)
  • Damaged flowers (internal and external browning of flower parts)
  • Shorter effective pollination periods
  • Lower set (high post-bloom drop)
  • Reduced nut growth

Seasonal effects of frost include:

  • Lower yields
  • Increased potential alternate bearing

Early identification of frost damage will optimize growers' ability to mitigate the effects of frost and prevent any further losses. With high-resolution, per-tree data on tree performance and transpiration, collected at set insights and paired with agronomic-based yield risk reports, growers can know where their yields are most at risk from a quantitative and qualitative point of view.

In-field measurements using the Aeroview InField mobile app for irrigation, nutrition, and soil-based findings can help growers to take practical action at both an orchard and farm level.

Securing high-return yields starts with identifying areas where your yield is most at risk. With Aerobotics, you can optimize every footstep towards knowing, improving, and securing your yield every season. Request a demo to see how we can protect and optimize your production.

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