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First aid for frost damage

Late cold spring weather is creating risks for all our crops. Frost can cause damages to the shoots and flowers of our perennial crops, but can also damage the young seedlings of field crops. This damage will depend first of all on our crop and on the temperature itself, but also on a lot of other factors, such as the exposed tissue, soil humidity, the speed of the changes in temperature, wind and high evaporation conditions, ….

It is time to act

We don’t have any influence on most of these elements. In perennial crops, such as fruit trees and vineyards, the nutrition of the tree in the previous season is important. There are clear indications that the reserves of certain carbohydrates within the plant (such as sugar alcohols) act as anti-freeze inside de plant cells. The concentration of these reserves of carbohydrates depends greatly on the post-harvest photosynthesis. An important part of the energy produced at that moment will be stocked in the stems and branches, increasing these reserves and thus the hardiness of the plant against frost.

First aid

Treatments with Hyberol in post-harvest, or any other foliar nutrition (such as for example Fructol, Kappa V) that optimizes the photosynthesis (and thus carbohydrate production) might improve the situation. Because Zinc and Boron play a specific roll in this process, and because these elements are also held in reserve by the plants, specific attention needs to be payed to the correct nutrition of these nutrients.

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Adapt your plant nutrition

Once there is frost damage on our crop, we have to assess the damage, verify if the crop can be saved (in the field crops) or what the loss in fruit production is going be. A normal reaction is to act immediately, although it is good to wait and determine the full extent of the damage before deciding on how to advance accordingly. If the crops has sufficient potential to be saved, or to have still a sufficient production, we can adapt the nutrition of the crop in order to stimulate regrowth and save the fruits that are still there. The correct fertilization of frost-damaged crops is essential but should be limited and gradually increased, until the plants are regaining their canopy size and foliage density. At the beginning we need to reactivate some dormant buds or meristems, and stimulate metabolic activity and growth. We need to activate cell division and formation of new shoots. Elements that are particularly important for these processes are:

  • Boron: key element that regulates a proper cell division in shoots and assures flowers quality and fertility
  • Phosphorous: on the one hand also important for cell division, and on the other hand regulates energy transport.
  • Zinc: intervenes in the production of plant growth hormones, particularly important for regrowth

Make it complete

The plant nutrition has to be complete, all nutrients are without any doubt essential for a full recovery of the plant, but by putting the focus on the indicated elements we activate the cell division and regrowth. Seaweed extracts rich in cytokines, carbohydrates, amino acids will furthermore support this process.

In annual field crops, it is important to check if the growth points are still viable and active. Generally growth points below the soil surface are better protected and will have a better chance of surviving and recovering. Nevertheless the young seedlings will suffer because of the cold temperatures. For the same reasons as mentioned above, also for these crops the elements P, B and Zn, in combination with seaweed extract are important for the recovery after some frost.

Practical approach

Therefore we recommend various treatments with the following combination of products

  • Chelal Alga + Chelal Zn (or Landamine Zn) + Chelal B
  • Hyberol (contains, seaweed, B, Zn)
  • Chelal AZ + Chelal B (or Landamine BMo)

1-3 applications are recommended with one of these combinations of products. As the needs are small in the beginning you must start with low dosages and gradually increase them as recovery goes on. Only after we see a good improvement we can accelerate the recovery further by adding also Nitrogen into the treatment. The best product for this is Kappa V, which contains not only N, but also P, K, Mg and small amount more of Fe and B.

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