Spring is in the air as Marlborough winters warm up

Daffodils have been out in Seymour Square, Blenheim since mid-July.

ANTHONY PHELPS/STUFF

Daffodils have been out in Seymour Square, Blenheim since mid-July.

With daffodils blooming in Seymour Square and trees beginning to bud, it would be easy to believe that spring has already arrived.

But, with Marlborough’s winters warming faster than its summers, and at twice the rate of the global average, Plant and Food Research scientist and weather expert Rob Agnew said changes in seasonal temperatures did not bode well for everyone.

“Our seasons are definitely earlier. [And] it would be absolutely correct to say winter is getting warmer, and I have a lot of data to back it up,” he said.

Agnew said records of Blenheim’s year-round temperatures dated back to the 1930s, and since then Marlborough had seen its average winter temperature rise by 2.09C, while temperatures in July, in particular, had still increase.

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“Basically, over the past 90 years, the temperature in July has increased by 2.2°C, which is very substantial,” Agnew said.

“So if you look back in 1932, we had about 62 ground frosts in the three winter months, but now we only get 31.”

Temperatures in Blenheim hit 16C on Tuesday, 4C above the city’s long-term average.

New buds sprout on the trees in Blenheim in mid-July as winters warm and spring arrives earlier.

Andy Brew / Stuff

New buds sprout on the trees in Blenheim in mid-July as winters warm and spring arrives earlier.

The winter heat might be welcomed by many, but the changes might have a negative effect for some and a ripple effect for others.

Agnew said warmer weather in the winter months could cause problems for Marlborough’s sprawling vineyards and their growing season.

Early buds and late frosts weren’t a good combination, he said.

“The chance of frost doesn’t necessarily decrease as the temperature increases towards the cooler part of the season,” Agnew said.

A Marlborough vineyard with early bud vines and snow on the hills of South Marlborough.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

A Marlborough vineyard with early bud vines and snow on the hills of South Marlborough.

Besides the dangers of early bud break, the warmer climate also presented other risks for grape growers.

“A general concern is insects and pests. With global warming, rising temperatures and significantly warmer Marlborough winter temperatures, insects like aphids, mealybugs and mealy bugs many of them would usually die off during the winter but if you get temperatures hotter, you get more survivability. pest species,” Agnew said.

A hot and humid July with pests and bugs that don’t go away over winter meant that Marlborough would likely see another bug bonanza, with flies and other bugs aplenty next summer.

“This season is very similar to last season due to the rains in July. This year and last year are very similar, and the temperatures are also quite similar.

Director of the Marlborough Cancer Society centre, Felicity Spencer, said the early flowering of daffodils makes for nervous times ahead of the annual Daffodil Day roll call which takes place on the last Friday in August.

BRYA INGRAM/STUFF

Director of the Marlborough Cancer Society centre, Felicity Spencer, said the early flowering of daffodils makes for nervous times ahead of the annual Daffodil Day roll call which takes place on the last Friday in August.

Felicity Spencer, director of the Cancer Society center in Marlborough, said early blooms posed their own problems.

“Early daffodils tend to come out in late July. It always makes us nervous if there will be enough left by the last Friday in August for Daffodil Day,” Spencer said.

Daffodil Day in New Zealand returns this year on Friday August 26 after being canceled in 2021 due to Covid restrictions. For more information or to donate now, start a fundraiser, order fresh flowers or sign up as a volunteer, go to daffodilday.org.nz.