Abiotic in-crop constraints for wheat


Frost damage

Constraint - Frost damage


  • Flowers, heads and stems can be affected
  • Heads may have little or no grain fill, with bleached or shrivelled florets
  • Stems may appear twisted or bent, with a pale green/white 'collar' around the point of frosting
  • Flowers become sterilsed by a frost at flowering, and grain will not form
  • Anthers can appear white or dull brown, and are often bananna shaped


  • Wheat is most susceptible to frost from pre heading to flowering, therefore most damage occurs from spring frosts
  • A heavy frost when the crop is vulnerable can cause significant yield loss
  • A very severe freeze can cause yield losses of 60%


The best strategy to avoid frost damage by sowing recommended varieties at suitable times. Ensuring a range of flowering dates for crops minimizes the risk of major yield loss should a frost occur.

Links and Resources

DAFWA - Frost

Introduction, general information, stem damage, head damage, other similar symptoms, and assessing frost damage.

MS Word DEPI VIC - Early wheat sowing in Victoria. Frost

Page contains information on chance of frost or heat damage over a variety of sowing dates. Published 2014.

File size: 22kb
DEPI VIC - Frost

Introduction, frost tolerance in early and late growth stages, avoiding frost damage, and optimum sowing times. Published 2000, updated 2013.

File size: 22kb
PDF DEPI VIC - Heat Stress and Frost Risk in Irrigated Wheat Crops. Frost

15 page PDF. Contains information on likelihood of frost or heat damage over a variety of sowing dates. Published 2014.

File size: 4.3mb
MS Word DEPI VIC - Sowing date, heat stress and frost risk in irrigated wheat crops. Frost.

Contains information on sowing date, frost and heat. Published 2014.

File size: 54kb
GRDC - Cracking wheats toughest nuts

8 page PDF. Information on frost, monetary figures for damages Australia wide, information on breeding trials for more frost tolerant wheat. Published 2012.

File size: 54kb
GRDC - Frost

12 page PDF. Introduction, cereal susceptibility to frost damage, symptoms, and other problems with similar symptoms. Published 2000.

File size: 54kb