Early frost in Alberta's Peace Country may only be a close call

As if Alberta’s northern region hadn’t had enough adversity this growing season, social media filled with reports of frost over the weekend.

Christi Friesen, a farmer in the province’s Peace Country, tweeted a picture confirming the frost early Saturday morning, writing that the barley and wheat (early milk to early dough stage) were officially hit.

“Typically, if you’re in that mid- to later grain fill period, you can stand -1 – even -2  – before you see any significant injury,” says Peter Johnson, RealAgriculture’s resident agronomist, adding even probably up to -4 won’t do significant damage. “The problem is that it said -1 on the thermometer – does that mean it was actually -1 where the wheat plant is, or in the hollows of those areas; did it get down to -6 or -7? Because that definitely spells big trouble.”

Johnson, who joined RealAg Radio Monday, says he’s hopeful that this frost was a close call, because of its timing.

“If ever, ever, it goes below zero at pollination, then you’re done,” says Johnson. “But canola, cereals in that grain fill period are more frost tolerant than you might think, so hopefully they’re okay from that perspective.”

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