Hello all,
While I met some of you on the IFTA trip to New Zealand in February, there are 
others on the list here that I have not interacted with in many years.
We have had an exceptional summer (not necessarily in a good way) here in 
Ireland, which I thought might be interesting to report on.
Following one of the latest (and wettest) spring periods I can remember here, 
the weather turned warm and dry in April, and has stayed like this pretty much 
since then.
Our typical summer weather in Ireland is of passing weather fronts (bringing 
light rain and showers), with occasional periods of high pressure giving 
settled weather. With this type of alternating weather pattern, we might expect 
20mm (a bit less than 1 inch) of rain per week on average.
This year, since May 11th (10 weeks ago), we have had 25mm of rain in total, or 
about 1/8 of normal. Soil moisture deficits have been reading as maximum on the 
scale for about 6 weeks now, so clearly soils are very dry.
In addition, we had a number of weeks of weather close to (and even above) 30 
degrees C / 85F which is pretty unheard of here.
While such weather is normal (and desirable) in many parts of the World where 
apples are grown, very few growers here irrigation in their orchards, as the 
last time there was a drought like this (though not quite as severe) was in 
1976.
Luckily on my own farm, because we also grow soft fruit, I have drip irrigation 
in place in 3/4 of our orchards. In other farms I have visited, fruit size is 
inhibited by drought, and with little sign of significant rainfall, the worry 
now is not just for the crops of this year, but stress causing a reduction in 
return bloom.
Having spoken with some climatic experts, they tell me that the unusual settled 
weather here is caused by a weakening of the jet stream which normally directs 
a series of cold fronts and intermittent high pressure systems across Ireland. 
The jet stream is driven by the temperature gradient between the cold of the 
arctic, and warmth in lower latitudes. As the arctic is much warmer than normal 
(in Sweden they recorded 85F in the arctic circle recently), the jet stream is 
too weak and wavy to drive the weather fronts in the usual manner. And 
consequently we are stuck in a dry zone, while other locations that should also 
have mixed weather, are stuck in wet zones.
>From what I am hearing in other parts of Europe, the weather is also very 
>unusual, and again causing problems for fruit growers and regular farmers.
I would be interested to hear from others how the summer is progressing.

Con Traas
The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, Ireland



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