Date of first flowering was recorded for 40 years in the same agricultural varieties of white clover ( Trifolium repens L.). Standard procedures, experimental conditions and germplasm allowed the unmediated effects of climatic trends to be observed. Flowering dates of the same varieties at the same site have become significantly earlier over this period, with an advance of first flowering of approximately 7.5 days per decade since 1978. Annual maximum, minimum and soil temperatures at the site increased during the 40-year period. First flowering dates (FFDs) were significantly negatively correlated with minimum and maximum temperatures during February and March and soil temperatures between January and April. Maximum, minimum and soil temperatures increased between 1962 and 2002 for these months. No significant correlation was seen between FFD and soil temperatures at other times of the year including the period of vernalisation during winter. The occurrence of ground frost in February was significantly correlated with later flowering. Total annual rainfall and the number of wet days in a year increased between 1962 and 2002. However, only rainfall in February had a significant impact on FFD.