Growing season now 29 days longer

Growing season now 29 days longer

The average UK growing season has increased by nearly a month in the last few decades, according to new Met Office figures

The Central England Temperature record shows that during the last 10 years the plant growing season has been on average 29 days longer than during the period 1961 to 1990. (The ‘growing season’ is defined as starting when average temperatures rise above 5C (41F) for five consecutive days, and ending once five consecutive days fall back below 5C.)

Between 1861 and 1890, the average growing season was 244 days. A century later, it had extended by just over a week. Between 2006 and 2015, the average growing season has been 280 days. Meanwhile, the average number of annual days of air frost between 2006 and 2015 was 16.6% lower than the 1961 to 1990 average.

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An extra 29 growing days might seem like (superficially) good news, but other factors complicate the forecast for gardeners. The need for winter chilling in some crops, increasingly unpredictable rainfall levels, and pest and disease problems caused or exacerbated by warmer conditions mean that there is no straightforward correlation between a longer growing season and better crops.

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Steve Ott
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