What is spring frost?

Frost sometimes comes when you least expect it, especially in spring. The problem is that a weather phenomenon like spring frost and late frosts can take a heavy toll on construction and agriculture. Seeing a small layer of white colour on your vines on a beautiful morning in May does not bode well. But what is it? What is a spring frost and how can we anticipate frosts?

Spring frost, a well-known weather phenomenon whose consequences come at a high price

Spring frost is mainly a problem for vine growers. It is particularly in this area that the term is used, and people who do not garden are most likely not familiar with it. The frosts that occur in April and May (in the northern hemisphere and other countries) are simply called spring frosts.
Why is this type of frost important? Its temperature is the same as that of other frosts, of course, but the problem is that it arrives after winter. The frosts hit the buds of vines and all other fruit trees hard, and they are vulnerable because once they break, there is no protective shell to protect them.
Less severe than winter frost, spring frost is not as cold and lasts for a shorter period. But it depends on the level of humidity, the temperature at which the crops are at risk varies. In cases of low humidity, i.e. below 60%, the risk is slightly above -4 degrees. But one hour's exposure to frost at a temperature of -2 degrees is enough to cause damage when the humidity level is above 60%!

The disastrous consequences of spring frost

Vines are particularly vulnerable to spring frost. Wine and fruit producers in general often pay a high price for an unexpected late frost. In fact, buds and young leaves can be destroyed quickly if frost strikes, much to the dismay of winegrowers and winemakers. A temperature of -2 degrees can be enough to cause considerable damage.
The destructive consequences of spring frost are even more dramatic when the vines are in advance. In the middle of their budding process, the plants are then hit by the frost. This means that vineyard produce is low in years when spring frosts strike.
In the building and construction sector, late frosts after the arrival of the warm weather can also surprise and cause problems. Indeed, the construction sector is governed by specific rules due to the sensitivity to the frost of certain materials.
So how do you fight spring frost and prevent late frosts from causing major damage to crops and construction?

Being well informed about the weather forecast allows you to anticipate and protect yourself from spring frost. With the Netatmo Smart Weather Station, don't get ahead of the game and be informed in real time of the risk of frost in the coming days. This will give you more time to prepare yourself, while keeping you informed of the evolution of the situation.

How to tackle spring frost

There are solutions against spring frost, especially in vineyards. Here is a list. Opinions differ, but these are tried and tested solutions.

Anticipating frosts with accurate weather forecasts

Anticipation is the first solution against frost. By using a barometer, a weather station, or by asking specific weather services, you can save time. Anticipating late frosts is a good way to implement various protections for your vines or your building.
This first solution can be interesting in terms of price: you could protect your crops for about £100.

Sprinkling, or the igloo technique to protect vines from frost

There are protective techniques to help fight frost and warm up the air. There are protective techniques to help fight frost and warm up the air. This method involves sprinkling the vine with water at the very moment that frost starts to form. The purpose is simple in terms of physics: to create an icy envelope around the fragile buds and young shoots to protect them from frost. The principle of operation is the same as that of an igloo.
It is also common to use candles (but not scented candles) and heaters to fight spring frosts in vineyards. The well-known technique used by winegrowers consists of placing these candles and heaters between the rows of vines to maintain sufficient heat at the foot of the vines and thus avoid frost.
Here you have to consider the price of all the products to be purchased and installed, choose the brand of each one carefully, and estimate each one.

Use propellers from antifreeze towers and helicopters to stir the air

In recent years, late frosts and in particular spring frosts have not spared British winegrowers. Some have used antifreeze towers to protect their crops and secure their produce. For this, the propeller blows the warm air back towards the vines. Helicopters are used according to the same principle: to stir the air just above the vines. But these propeller solutions do not have the same price as the ideas proposed above, that is for sure…

Gardeners, construction workers, winegrowers… spring frost is a cunning enemy. But fortunately, there are solutions! You can find a way to protect your products from late frosts at all prices.