WAGGA is leading the way with the latest research into the impact of frost on canola crop yield as seas of yellow begin to flood the region.
The innovative project at the Wagga Agricultural Institute is using mobile frost shelters in canola crops to boost the industry's understanding of how sowing time recommendations could help reduce frost impacts on yield.
The research could help save up to $63 million a year for canola growers across the state, which would otherwise be lost to frost.
Co-invested by NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Grains Agronomy and Pathology Partnership pilot project aims to use shelters to accurately quantify the yield losses.
NSW DPI crop physiologist Rajneet Uppal said special mobile shelters made from frost protectant cloth have been designed to cover trial plots and insulate plants from frost.
"In the past, we were unable achieve true frost exclusion in the field, now with these shelters we can exclude frost to quantify the direct yield loss and cost to growers," she said.
"Results will be used to develop a greater understanding of frost impacts on optimum flowering dates and highlight production benefits in establishing canola at recommended sowing times."
Frost events are becoming more frequent and occurring later into the season in the Riverina, according to weather data, increasing the risk of frost damage to canola crops which have been sown early to avoid drought stress in spring.
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In NSW, frost was estimated to have reduced the 2017 canola yield by close to 0.3 tonnes per hectare, a total of 120,000 tonnes valued at $63 million at a farm gate price of $525 per tonne.
Dr Uppal said frost damage can occur when temperatures are forecast to fall below 2 degrees Celsius.
"Frost events are more likely to occur in low-lying paddocks and areas with high stubble loads," she said.
Validated data on critical growth stages and temperature thresholds for frost damage can be used by growers to identify areas which are prone to frost and allow them to plan crop rotations accordingly.