Micro sprinklers for frost protection in orchards

Asked February 23, 2018, 2:26 PM EST

Hello, last fall I asked a question about how to protect orchards from spring frost and I decided to experiment with micro sprinklers for this spring. I have searched the internet and I can't seem to find the answers I am looking for. I understand the principles and how they work but I don't understand how to do it. For starters, I cant find what type of sprinkler I should buy. What type of sprinklers to professional orchards use and where do I buy them? Once I have them do I set them under the tree or in the tree? I'd like some that are somewhat water efficient since I have a lot of trees. I need some help with general information and any resources or things I overlooked would be great! Thanks!

Lake County Michigan fruits and vegetables freeze protection tree fruit

3 Responses

You don't say how big your planting is.
Here is a link to using micro sprinklers in citrus.
The advantage of micro sprinklers is that you do not get any water on the plants. The disadvantage is the system really only gives a few degrees of protection. Since the water is releasing its heat to the ground the crop is not hurt any worse than it would be by the freeze.
Commercial orchardists buy their sprinklers from large dealers. Two here in Michigan are Tricklezz and Spring Brook Irrigation. Orchardists typically buy all the parts for their irrigation system and have it installed by the firm who sold it or install it themselves. You can probably find similar equipment at a local lawn irrigation firm. You could also use a typical lawn sprinkler with a low pattern (to keep the water off the leaves and flowers) for a back yard situation.
I would not expect this system to give any more than 2 or 3 degrees of protection.

Thank you Mark! I am a little larger than just a backyard orchard but not as large as a big orchard. I have around 100 trees but many of them are young. I understand the sprinklers only provide 2-3 degree protection, so, in your opinion, what would provide me the most protection? Thanks!

No frost control system is perfect. They all fail under some conditions. If you have an irrigation system then growers usually modify the system to get some frost protection. Under tree sprinklers have the big advantage of not getting water on the trees so if the system fails because it is too cold then the damage is not as bad as the overhead system where the ice evaporating will make the trees and buds colder than they would be in air. These overhead system usually fail at a specific point depending on the amount of water you can apply. For our irrigation systems in Michigan that is usually around 24 to 25. Under the tree systems seem to add about 2 to 3 degrees to the environment but generally work best when the low is going to be in the high 20s and the plant will be hurt by those temperatures (i.e. around and after bloom).
It is all a function of how much water you can pump and distribute. Very few growers can protect all their planting so they need to make a choice about what to protect.
Depending on your water situation you could install an irrigation system and use it for some frost control or buy some hoses and impact sprinklers from a garden store and use them for frost control. I think the volume of water from the lawn sprinklers would be more and provide a little better protection.