The phenology of mesotrophic grassland in the Pennine dales, northern England: historic hay cutting dates, vegetation variation and plant species phenologies.
The relevance to conservation of a restriction on the start of haymaking in species-rich meadows is included in the management prescription for the Pennine Dales Environmentally Sensitive Area. Historic start and finish dates for haymaking are given for the period 1945-86. Start dates are relatively constant throughout the period but finish dates are earlier towards the end of the period. Analysis of the variation in vegetation in meadows on 6 farms indicated that the sequence in which the meadows are cut could have a major influence on their species composition, particularly if mineral fertilizers were not used. Modelled phenologies are given for 15 meadow species including Anthoxanthum odoratum, Dactylis glomerata, Festuca pratensis, F. rubra, Poa trivialis and Trifolium pratense to assess the possible impact of different cutting dates on seed output. The results are discussed in the context of the comparative ecology of the main species and some modification to the current management prescription are suggested.