Grass growth gets off to a slow start to the season

Thursday, 9 April 2020

By Felicity Rusk

In contrast to last year, grass growth has had rather a slow start to the season. Although winter temperatures were milder than normal, rainfall was considerably higher than usual. Overall, the UK received more than 40% more rain than the long-term average over the winter. In February alone, the UK received 209mm of rainfall, the most recorded for that month since records began (1862).

The wet weather resulted in poor ground conditions for most, delaying the turning out of stock. However, plentiful silage stocks from the previous summer will have eased feeding concerns for many producers.

It has only been in the last couple of weeks that soil temperatures have been sufficient to enable growth. As such, grass growth has slow start to the year, particularly when compared to 2019 levels. In the week ended 8 April, grass growth averaged 29.1kg DM/ha, according to our Forage for Knowledge programme. This is over 20% below the long-term average (2010-19) for the time of year.

Nevertheless, the recent spell of drier weather has resulted in good dry matter values, averaging at 24.8% in the week ending 8 April, which should support intakes.

Looking ahead, the spring weather forecast by Accuweather suggests that temperatures are likely to continue to track above normal. Meanwhile, average rainfall across the UK should be in line with normal levels. However, northern regions may experience some wetter weather. If realised, this forecast would support grass growth through this period.

Felicity Rusk

Analyst - Dairy & Livestock

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