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2001 Paul Barlow

1998 the summer that never was!

We all know what a poor summer we had in 1998, but how bad was it compared with say the 30 year average? The following graphs perhaps give some clues as to why many growers in North East Scotland found their blooms running anything up to 3 weeks later than usual.

maxtemp98.gif (7083 bytes)

This graph shows the monthly average maximum daily temperature between March and August 1998. It shows that we were colder than average in April, June and July.

rain98.gif (5978 bytes)

The rainfall comparison is significant. In the months March, April, June and July we experienced higher than average rainfall with April and July being appreciably higher than the thirty year average. In total 45.5mm more than the average for the period (this is about 18 inches!).

sun98.gif (6701 bytes)

The sunshine hours comparison is again significant. Over 83 hours less sunshine over the period when compared with the average. Months June and particularly July show a marked deficiency. Clearly an impact on plant ripeness could be expected.

Looking at the above graphs individually we can see 1998 as a poor summer, but put them together and we see a diabolical summer! The months of April, June and July were at the same time colder, wetter and duller than average. If, in each of these months we had only one of these statistics then summer 1998 might have been reasonable. However when all three occur during three of the main growing months of the year then inevitably something has to suffer.

However, there's something about summer 1998 that doesn't quite match the popular expectation from a cold, wet and dull summer. Yes, chrysanthemums did take longer than usual during the growth stages from April onwards and inevitably they did bloom a bit later in September, but from a personal point of view I think my blooms were bigger, more consistent, better colour and of better quality than in previous years. I certainly had more success on the showbench with Earlies in 1998.

Lates were a different story, although I don't quite know why. Blooms were poor and often mis-shapen and some normally intermediate cultivars reflexed almost entirely. Some growers claim Lates did not ripen in the pots thus contributing to poor quality blooms - a valid claim without doubt, especially for those of us who grow in plastics. But surely the same should have applied to Earlies in a constantly wet plot? My experience in 1998 is that my Earlies did ripen sufficiently to produce quality blooms, against the odds when looking at June and July particularly.

So, my conclusions are somewhat inconclusive. But that's nothing new in chrysanthemum growing. If we knew it all would it still generate as much enjoyment or would it simply become boring and routine? For my part I think I'll stick with a degree of ignorance and enjoy the uncertainty and the unexpected - it's much more interesting!

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Last updated on 27 December, 2001