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Frost Kills

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Protect your wheat and cereal crops from frost and chill, for as little as $25/ha

Frost and chill present a major threat to wheat and other small grain yields, particularly from late-boot stage, to head emergence and flowering. However, there is evidence to suggest that natural plant biochemical extracts can be applied to help mitigate these stresses and potential loss to farmers – all without breaking the bank.

What is frost damage?

Frost damage occurs in plants under low and sub-zero temperatures, with ice crystals forming both inside the plant and outside the individual cell. The expanding ice crystals 'suck up' water molecules and can cause the cells to dehydrate, damaging many of the sensitive structures. As a result, frost can cause pinched wheat and reduce yields, due to the destruction of the reproduction cells and pollen.

Can my crops resist frost?

The ability to resist frost stress, which varies by variety, is a physiological process involving a number of plant biochemicals, including plant hormones, growth regulators, sugars and minerals. These are all activated when temperatures fall below 4 ⁰C.

This process, known as ‘acclimation’ may occur a number of times during the early vegetative stages of growth. However, studies show that plants have a limited ability to acclimate and protect the cells, as environmental conditions, such as warming day temperatures and increasing day length, bring on the reproductive flowering growth stages.

Consequently, most of the damage experienced in wheat crops occurs from late boot stage, to head emergence and flowering.

Top-up protection can help to resist frost after natural acclimation declines

Studies have shown that plant biochemicals, naturally produced during acclimation, can be ‘topped-up’, when applied as a foliar spray, providing additional protection at a time when the plant is most exposed to frost and chill.

ECTOL frost trials – 20 years of experience

For 20 years, ECTOL have been developing and testing products that help protect crops against frost and chill. Now, farmers can use ECTOL Protect and Grow, which contains many of the natural plant biochemicals, used to protect itself against frost stress.

The ingredients in ECTOL Protect and Grow will boost the plants own protection system, without causing damage to sensitive flowering parts at this critical stage of growth. The effective protection lasts about 10 days and a further application of 2 Lts/ha can be applied to the crop, if weather conditions justify the decision.


Frost risk generally runs from mid-boot through to flowering, a period of about 6 weeks.

We recommend:

  • Low-to-normal seasonal risk: 4Lts/ha ECTOL Protect and Grow at head emergence

  • High seasonal risk: 4Lts/ha ECTOL Protect and Grow at late boot, 2 Lts/ha at flowering. Note a Further 2Lts/ha can be applied 10 days later if season and crop economics are justified.

ECTOL Protect and Grow is applied with sufficient water to ensure foliar cover and may be applied with other crop protection chemicals.

Cost: Typically, the product cost is about $25/ha (4Lts/ha) for ECTOL Protect and Grow – a small price to pay for peace of mind.

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