In-field differentiation of frost and heat stress in wheat

Alexander Clancy1, Audrey Delahunty2, James Nuttall1, Eileen Perry3,4

1Agriculture Victoria, 110 Natimuk Road, Horsham, Victoria, 3400, 
2Agriculture Victoria, Cnr Koorlong Avenue & 11th Avenue, Irymple, Victoria, 3498, 3Agriculture Victoria, 1-7 Taylor Street, Epsom, Victoria, 3551, 4The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3000


Frost and acute high temperature are both extreme temperature events that have a significant impact on crops grown within Mediterranean-type climates. During the late spring period which coincides with dryland crops flowering, frost and high temperature can occur within days of each other, and often confound interpretation of which causes a yield penalty. As a means of assessing the effect of the two stresses on wheat and defining the main and interactive effects of heat and frost, a factorial trial was established in a wheat crop at Horsham, Victoria. Insulated chambers were utilised to apply artificial frost during the evenings at two intensities. Following one day of recovery, daytime high temperature treatments at two intensities were applied, using heat chambers, to plots with and without previous frost treatments. The results of the trial show a significant (P <0.001), linear relationship between cumulative frost ( (<0 oC)), yield and components. No significant relationship was found for heat or frost by heat interaction on yield, most likely due to a lack of intensity for the heat treatments applied. This work provided a backdrop to collect non-destructive, remote sensing data, as a potential tool for rapid assessments of crop damage to extreme temperature events.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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