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Spray improves plants’ cold tolerance


July 24, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

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July 24, 2008, Tuscaloosa, AL – Studies indicate a spray-on formula
increases plants’ tolerance of cold temperatures by several degrees.

July 24, 2008, Tuscaloosa, AL – Studies indicate a spray-on formula increases plants’ tolerance of cold temperatures by several degrees.

The spray, which is not yet commercially available, can improve plants’ cold tolerance between 2.2 and 9.4 degrees Fahrenheit, depending upon the species, according to Dr. David Francko, a professor of botany who co-developed the spray and who serves as dean of The University of Alabama graduate school and assistant vice president for academic affairs.

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Research results indicate the spray, which the developers have named Freeze-Pruf, is effective on a variety of plants, including palms, tropical houseplants, bananas, citrus plants and flowers. Commercial growers would benefit from the longer growing season that a more cold tolerant plant would provide.

“It moves your temperature zone about 200 miles, so it’s highly significant,” Francko said.

A patent application on the product, a novel mixture that combines five ingredients in a water-based spray formula, was filed earlier this year.

“Each ingredient has a different function, but when you put them all together you get an effect that is larger than any single component, alone,” Francko said. “It’s non-toxic, it’s cheap, and the idea is to apply it once per season.”

Existing sprays, Francko says, typically protect plants in weather only as low as the mid to upper 20s Fahrenheit. “Our spray works all the way down to below zero Fahrenheit, depending on the plant you’re working on. It really does take advantage of the plant’s genetic pre-adaptation and improves it.”

Freeze-Pruf lowers both the temperature at which damage first becomes noticeable in plants as well as the temperature that would normally kill the plant, according to the research results. “It protects both the foliage and the flower,” Francko said.


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