As we switch over to British Summer Time (BST) here in the UK and the nights start to get longer, it really does finally feel that the growing season is upon us. It’s also about this time that I tweet a picture of my vines capturing the moment that the first buds appear. A quick look back in my Twitter archive shows that, in 2017 this was on March 25th, and in 2016 it was a touch earlier on March 23rd.
As it stands today, March 26th, my vines are all looking as dormant as they did at any point over the winter, such were the extreme conditions seen throughout the month. The so-called ‘Beast from the East’ brought plunging temperatures, bitter winds and two separate bouts of snow.
As fast as the conditions worsened though they cleared up almost as quickly, with the first batch of several inches of snow arriving and thawing in about 5 days and, and the second batch within 48 hours. We did admittedly have it much easier here in the southern part of the UK than they did in the north, but it was still very freak-like conditions.
Temperatures are now back up to the 10-12°C level and, with a third forecast of plummeting temperatures and further snow over Easter now not on the cards, normal service should be resumed.
I estimate that it will be another 2-3 weeks before we see signs of life on the vines, but I’m already thinking ahead to the potentially disastrous effects that the late spring frosts could cause.
This will be at a point when the buds are just starting to get going and a very delicate stage for them. If it is anything like the notorious 2017 frosts we could be in for trouble.