Below average temperatures stalling grass growth – Met Eireann

Below average soil temperatures for this time of year have stalled grass growth, according to Met Eireann’s Gerry Murphy.

Murphy – who was speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show yesterday (Wednesday, April 4) – indicated that soil temperatures are as much as 1º below normal levels.

He said: “In terms of the soil temperatures, for grass to grow the soil needs to be above a temperature of. Currently, it is hovering around that – but, at this time of year, that’s about 0.5º or 1º below average.

“So the soils are much colder at the moment than they normally are.”

The prolonged cold and wet winter has left many farmers across the country facing difficulties in relation to fodder and ground conditions.

Continuing, Murphy said: “Certainly, we’ve had a very cold winter. Really since early December, when the bands of rain came through, they would normally be followed by showers – but, over the past winter, they’ve been followed by very cold, sleety showers.

So, in general, it’s been a wet and cold winter. The most significant thing about it is that it lasted a long time. We have often had cold, wet winters before, but then you had some respite and could get cows out in late January or February.

“But this year – similarly to early 2013 – the winter has dragged on a long time, because it has remained quite cold and wet.”

Rainfall accumulations

As well as this, Murphy noted that rainfall accumulations have generally been above average over the whole winter in most areas – with just parts of the north-west recording slightly below average accumulations.

In parts of the east of the country, in recent weeks, we have had over three times the amount of rainfall that you would expect at this time of the year.

“Literally, all areas are well above average – a few parts of the north-west are slightly below. But most places have had a wet winter and most especially a wet spring so far,” he said.

This heavy rainfall has meant that most soils are saturated at present and are unsuitable for letting cows out on, he added.

Murphy wasn’t optimistic that ground conditions would improve in the coming days, but he did mention that temperatures are likely to increase slightly over the weekend – which bodes well for grass growth.