COLUMN: Weather Wise with Gordon Currie

The rapid growth of grass has exceeded the expectations of all cattle farmers. (S)

The rapid growth of grass has exceeded the expectations of all cattle farmers. (S)

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Gordon takes a look at September’s power of rejuvenation, and gives prospects for the week ahead.

Reminders of our summer past

And scorching heat-wave dust

Now seen in sun-splashed chestnut leaves

Deep brown in hues of rust;

Seek coolness in fine elegance

With hints of moon-glow mellow

Beneath the slim-line poplar tree

Its leaves in shades of yellow;

Across some forest tree-line

In sunrise iridescence

Perceive these coloured multitudes –

A picture opalescent!

Single out one crimson leaf

Of cherry’s autumn fire –

The season’s final triumph.

As kindled flames leap higher . . . . . .

The progress of September this year is certainly depicting the artistry of the on-coming autumn season amid the natural day-to-day changes of our weather. No day in this month is identical to the one that has gone before or the one which succeeds, but we consciously treasure the opportunities of sunshine as the world of nature picks her way towards the final days of the month.

September carries quite a historical legacy of weather history which tends to illustrate the way in which the month presents a general culmination to the law of the land in terms of crops and yield, and quite frequently, coming to the rescue of farming’s in-balances, wrought by the earlier months of the year. One of the month’s curious characteristics which has been demonstrated so well this year concerns its powers of rejuvenation, especially in terms of grass replenishment in the wake of a warm, dry summer. It is strange to understand how the season at this stage of the year is beginning its decline, yet the rapid growth of grass seems to have exceeded all expectations for all cattle farmers, whether it is dairying, beef rearing or sheep grazing in the upland Dales. Soil temperatures obviously have a great influence on the rate of growth with September grass. Against a background of very late spring growth being supressed by tne heat and dryness of July, grassland growth generally has certainly deviated from normality. However, along came September with its providential storage of warmth in the soil and adequate rainfall, an ideal combination to promote copious growth of fairly nutritious grass for the farmers. It could be stated that the nutrition of the grass is higher than normal at this stage of the year, due to the beneficial factors provided by the summer’s sunlight.

Some interesting factors spring to light in history to illustrate how September has literally come to the rescue of starved summer pastures. In the year 1252, it is recorded “the earth began to yield her increase most plenteously, so that the cattle, which before were hunger starved, fed now so greedily on this new September grass that many of them died.” In 1540, a prolonged drought lasted from February until the middle of September, by which time many rivers and streams were dry and many cattle perished. Obviously, September’s redemption came too late. The year 1666 saw a failure of September’s restorative powers in terms of life giving rainfall. The year produced a very hot dry summer with the principal heat-wave beginning on June 27th and lasting until September 19th. Hot, dry easterly winds turned the English landscape into tinder dryness, and the great fire of London broke out on the 12th. In complete contrast to this, September 1774 proved to be exceptionally wet and stormy, a month which brought to an end a lengthy run of eleven consecutively wet years. In that month, Gilbert White recorded: “Land springs have never obtained more water since the memory of man. Such a run of wet seasons, a century or two ago, would, I am persuaded, have occasioned a famine.”

PROSPECTS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

A complex situation featuring weak high pressure areas around the British Isles is likely to decline slowly, with a cold front likely to push much cooler air southwards on northerly winds. Meanwhile low pressure developments on the Atlantic and to the southwest of the UK are likely to bring more unsettled conditions over the next week.

Fairly dry with some sunny spells and early mist and fog patches in the early mornings for the first few days. Becoming less settled with some rain or showers, possibly thundery, as the week progresses. These changes are likely to be slow, with actual timing difficult. Becoming generally cooler, with temperatures returning to seasonal

normal, 57 – 61 F. (14 – 16 C.).