propane to control frost

Late spring frost can have a drastic effect on the viability of crops and your income as a farmer.

The good news is that there are ways to prevent frost from damaging your crops. Continue reading to learn more about how temperature drops can harm crops and methods for frost prevention.

Table of Contents

How Temperature Drops Can Damage Crops

The late spring frost can damage flowers in orchards and reduce the number of viable crops. When the number of crops reduces, there is a significant impact on a farmer’s income.

Damage to crops is based on the critical temperature of the specific fruit or flower. Critical temperature refers to the temperature at which fruits or flowers experience injury or damage after 30 minutes of exposure. Flower or fruit damage can occur at temperatures in the low 20s, depending on the type and stage of development.

In spring, the temperatures can drop and cause frost to form, freezing the water inside plant cells. As the water freezes, it expands and causes cell walls to rupture, damaging fruits and flowers and potentially causing a complete loss for that particular crop. Critical temperature damage varies based on a few factors, including:

  • The stage of development for each flower or fruit.
  • The weather before the temperature drop.
  • The rate of thawing.

There are two main types of frost to consider in your orchard, which are:

  • Advective frost: This type of frost occurs when a massive cold air front moves into the area. These cold fronts originate in the artic or colder regions of the planet, and temperatures at the surface level can be below freezing. Temperatures will increase the higher you go up in elevation.
  • Radiation frost: Radiation frost occurs when heat stored in the soil from the day is released into the atmosphere once the sun sets for the night. Temperatures near the surface level can reach below freezing.

Factors Affecting Temperature Drops in Late Spring

Managing frost during temperature drops in the orchard is the best way to prevent the loss of crops, and certain factors can affect how low the temperature will get in your orchard, including:

  • Location: While heat rises, cold air is heavier and travels to lower elevations. Orchards located at lower elevations tend to experience more fruit and flower damage as the cold air collects in one area. Selecting the right site can help you avoid cold air collecting in your orchard.
  • Cloud cover: Cloudy nights can trap radiation from the soil and don’t allow it to pass through, reducing the risk of radiation frost.
  • Dew point and water vapor: Dew point refers to the temperature required to allow moisture to condense in the air. The excess water vapor will start to concentrate on the fruit or flowers. The dew point will be higher with more water vapor in the air, but a low dewpoint can indicate dry air, making it challenging to heat the orchard adequately.
  • Windy conditions: Windy nights can prevent the lower levels of the atmosphere from retaining heat necessary for healthy spring crops, causing frost to damage crops.

Factors impacting temperature drop

Method for Frost Protection

Protecting your orchard from frost damage can help you reduce the number of crops you lose each spring.  Utilizing a propane-fueled mobile heater can help protect your crops.

Mobile Heaters

A mobile propane heater is attached to a tractor and provides warm air to the orchard. These heaters are sometimes called a “frost dragon” or “thermablaster.” Towing propane frost machines through the orchard roads can help heat the crops on nights when late spring frost might become an issue.

Propane-powered frost control machines work by pulling down the hot air that rises at night back to the ground. These machines can heat multiple acres, with a single machine equipped to heat 5 to 6 acres and protect crops from frost damage in temperatures as low as 23 degrees.

Benefits of Using Propane to Control Frost in Orchards

There are many benefits of using portable frost control in your orchard, including:

  • Long-term storage: Unlike traditional diesel or gasoline, you can store propane indefinitely in a propane tank. If you experience years where you don’t need frost control, the propane in your tanks will be perfectly fine stored on your land.
  • Fuel efficiency: Modern mobile propane heaters operate more efficiently than models from the past, meaning that new systems can run on fewer gallons each hour compared to older models. You’ll save more money on fuel costs due to increasing these heaters’ efficiency.
  • Reduced costs: Propane-powered frost control machines generally don’t require as much investment as other frost prevention methods. Propane fuel prices are also relatively low per gallon, saving you money on additional expenses.
  • Significant temperature control: Mobile propane heaters can protect crops exposed to temperatures as low as 23 degrees, which is better than other frost prevention methods, including wind machines and smudge pots.

Trust Shipley Energy as Your Propane Fuel Supplier

Using propane to control frost in your orchards has many benefits and can keep your crops healthy, even when the temperature drops at night in the late spring. At Shipley Energy, we can help you set up a propane system that works for you. We offer multiple propane services, including fuel tank storageon-site fuel deliveries, and a regular wholesale fuel supply schedule.

We have a long tradition of dependable service and expert advisors who can assist you with your needs. Contact our commercial team today to learn more about our propane services and how we can help keep frost at bay.

trust shipley energy propane