Thursday, 26 January 2017

2016 - not the warmest year on record

It was not far off though. A mean of 16.33ºC for the year was marginally lower than 2015's 16.67.

A cool spring and occasional summer rain kept the maximum temperatures below those we have experience in recent years. Overall our mean of over 16º for the last three years, and close to it from 2010 to 2013 shows a definite warming trend. Ten to 12 years ago our mean was closer to 14º. Now I do not want to be alarmist and claim this is an indication of global warming, it is the result for one spot on the whole planet, although I accept that global temperatures appear to be gradually creeping up too.

The higher mean for recent years have come from higher minimums rather than higher maximums, and this has made life much more pleasant - not too hot in the summers and not too cold in the winters. We went from 9th February 2015 to 31st December 2016 between recording a minimum below zero. It has been very rare to record over 35º in the summer for the last few years, whereas the first few years after we arrived in 2003 gave us minimums of minus 6 on a few occasions each winter, and a maximum of 39º on a couple of occasions in the summer.

The olive harvest in 2016 was slightly lower than the previous year despite the trees still being young and continuing to grow. The exceptionally dry 2015 when I spent several months doing nothing but hand watering our 500 trees (losing two from dehydration) meant there was very little growth that year to produce the 2016 harvest. Nevertheless the big old tree in a very favourable spot next to the house had been given extra water through 2015 when it cropped exactly 59kgs, and with more favourable natural conditions in 2016, plus irrigation, managed to just top 60kgs. I have given it a fairly severe pruning because it was becoming too tall and very difficult to harvest the higher branches, so 2017 will not be a bumper year for it.

The annual pruning of the trees is behind schedule, because instead of beginning pruning immediately after harvest, I spent that time planting 814 almond trees. They are the self-fertile cultivar Soleta and I imported them from Spain. It was one of the cultivars bred by Sr Rafael Socias Company at CITA, Aragon and he was kind enough to have an email discussion with me regarding a choice of cultivar to plant. I had set myself a target of Christmas to complete the planting, and it was looking doubtful a week before that due to weather disruptions, but a few long days meant I planted the 814th about 20 mins before dark on Christmas Eve.

I then started on the olive pruning, but again, weather has delayed that (more rain today and much more forecast for the next two weeks) so I am hoping for a good spell of dry weather as the days lengthen over the next few weeks. Differentiation between flower and floral buds on the olives is about mid February and I like to be finished pruning before then. If I go on later I always feel as if I am cutting off fruit. I suppose we farmers are never satisfied with the weather. We need the rain, and we need the sunshine. We want both when it suits us and not at other times.

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