[NAFEX] Basic Frost Protection Questions

loneroc loneroc at mwt.net
Sun Nov 25 09:00:01 EST 2007


Potassium sprays such as potassium dextrolactate applied a day or so before the expected frost will give several degrees of protection.  Since the effect only lasts two days at the most it doesn't work on massive multi-day freezes.

 Bob Purvis, the Nafex apricot consultant, swears by it. Here's one source that mentions use of KDL as part of a spray program for peaches. I don't know about peer-reviewed research into the effectiveness.

Steve Herje, Lone Rock, WI USDA zone 3-4
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: John S 
  To: North American Fruit Explorers 
  Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2007 11:27 AM
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Basic Frost Protection Questions


  Freeze damage is ususally caused by ice crystals bursting cells or doing other damage.  I'm just wondering here if anyone knows of any serious research regarding absorbable sprays or soil amendements that could be taken up by plants to increase plant cell resistance to freeze damage?

  John



  "William C. Garthright" <billg at inebraska.com> wrote:

    > I hope you all will excuse the bonehead questions about frost protection.


    Heh, heh. You obviously haven't been here long enough to see all of MY 
    boneheaded questions! But this group is very patient and very helpful. 
    If they haven't thrown me out yet, I don't think you have anything to 
    worry about.

    Regarding frost protection, we had a long discussion about that last 
    spring. I haven't been here too long, but I suspect that it probably 
    comes up every year. It is, after all, a perennial bane. (You might try 
    checking the archives.)

    What I got from our discussion is that there are a variety of tactics 
    that might or might not help, depending on how many plants you must 
    protect and - especially - how cold it gets. If you only need a degree 
    or two of protection, something as simple as running a sprinkler all 
    night can sometimes help. On the other hand, sometimes nothing will do 
    any good. Last spring, after a very warm March, temps here dropped way 
    below freezing for five nights in a row (lowest was 17°). Nothing I did 
    - and probably nothing I could do - made the slightest difference.

    I'm just a newbie, but in your case, I'd suggest just using TWO layers 
    of frost cloth, rather than pay to have frames built. One layer doesn't 
    do much, especially if it's touching the plant, but two will have some 
    air between them for insulation. If you think you need more than that, 
    run an extension cord out to it and put an incandescent light bulb under 
    the cloths. Or you can use Xmas tree lights, jugs of water, or anything 
    that will provide just a little heat.

    Yes, you'll have to take these off between frosts. I don't know exactly 
    what you're trying to do. In my case, it would be a matter of delaying 
    the first fall frost a bit (for vegetables) or protecting early growth 
    from a late freeze. If you expect to do this all winter, it would be a 
    LOT of work, and maybe you should think about what you're planting. Or 
    maybe some kind of semi-permanent greenhouse structures would make more 
    sense.

    One other thing: for me, here in Nebraska, the wind is usually a factor. 
    We tend to get colder on still nights, but it can still be windy during 
    the day, which makes it extremely difficult to erect cloth shelters. And 
    last April, during our cold snap, the wind howled all day and all night. 
    Not only did it blow off almost everything I tried to use, but I don't 
    suppose the 'two-layers of cloth' idea would work as well when the wind 
    is whipping things around. Things are probably different for you, but I 
    thought I'd mention it. I'm almost to the point that I'm just going to 
    accept whatever the weather does and try to live with it. But if you 
    just need to get past a night or two of cold weather, it might be worth it.

    To repeat, though, I'm just a newbie at all this, not at all an expert. 
    I am learning - this list has been extremely helpful - but I have a long 
    way to go. Still, if I misled you about anything, I'm sure someone more 
    experienced will correct me.

    Good luck,

    Bill
    Lincoln, NE (zone 5)

    -- 
    Blind faith can justify anything. In a man believes in a different god, 
    or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, 
    blind faith can decree that he should die - on the cross, at the stake, 
    skewered on a Crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in 
    a bar in Belfast. - Richard Dawkins
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