WITH winter fast approaching, citrus growers and industry experts have been reminded about the most effective ways to prevent frost damage in the orchards.
Despite mild weather in Sunraysia until now, growers are expecting to face lower temperatures in coming weeks.
In June last year, the Mildura region had six days with minimum temperatures below zero.
Grandview Orchards citrus grower Brett Hullah, who farms at Coomealla, was among the 50 growers to attend the Citrus Australia regional forum at Dareton on Tuesday.
Mr Hullah said one of the key topics of the meeting concerned frost mitigation and best practice to minimise frost damage.
“When the fruit gets frosted, it affects it internally and can delay the harvesting or, worse, completely damage it,” he said.
“The idea is to try to protect the fruit internally to avoid that happening.”
The NSW Department of Primary Industries reported the fruits could be damaged by frost if temperatures dropped to -2C for four hours or -4C for two hours.
Mr Hullah said growers needed to take proactive measures to prevent their fruit from being affected by the frost.
“So far it’s been quite warm but we’re heading towards colder days and nights.
“One of the most common measures to mitigate frost is to wet the ground because it helps it absorb the sunlight during the day.
“Then, the moist soil radiates heat at night, increasing localised temperatures.”
He said keeping an eye on the weather forecast was essential.
“You can’t just wake up in the middle of the night and realise you should have turned your sprinklers on.”
Besides maintaining moisture in the soil, frost management options include wetting the fruit as well as using permanent and mobile fans and prediction tools.
“At our farm, we keep the ground damp using lowlevel sprinklers, which are little sprinklers under the tree,” he said.
“We find it’s enough to protect the fruit because we are more elevated than some people who farm around the lower parts of the area and get heavier frost.”
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