Irrigation for Horticultural Frost Protection

Engineering

In recent years the New Zealand horticultural industry including the pipfruit, kiwifruit and viticultural industries have experienced damaging frosts due to colder weather patterns during spring and right through to as late as November each year.

Early fruit varieties such as gold kiwifruit are particularly at risk to consecutive frost events during bud burst in mid-late August.

The use of growth regulators such as Hi-Cane in apples and kiwifruit are widely used management tools for timing of bud burst and flower initiation.

While giving the grower the advantage of bringing flowering forward and condensing flowering times, these tools unfortunately also expose the grower to greater risk from frost events. Without some form of frost protection, many growers can be severely set back due to the prevalence of untimely frost events.

Wind machines will not always work, particularly in more severe advective “cold air” frosts, however irrigation water is a proven and reliable method. In the case of frost fighting using water, Craig has designed many highly effective systems with growers enjoying the benefit of long term crop stability and early payback on the capital expenditure.

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