Monthly Archives: December 2011

December 26th

Hi All,

Not sure how many of you are going to be reading this, but I thought I’d keep the blog going through into the New Year. At least the focus of doing this stops me tucking into that box of Bassetts Allsorts and adding to my Christmas lard belly. Well, what a mild Christmas Day that was !, 12.5ºC air temperature and 9ºC soil temperature, mildest in Scotland and not a hope of winning my Paddy Power bets, ho hum :(

 

 General Weather Situation

For more weeks than I can remember we have a continuation of the Atlantic blocking event that has kept cold air away from the southern half of the U.K and Ireland for most of the winter so far.  That warm high is currently pushing mild air westwards across the UK with double figure night temperatures. Approaching mid-week, a cooler low develops that takes 2-3ºC off the temperature and moves the wind round to the north-west. This low pushes rain into Ireland, Scotland and Wales through Tuesday and persists into Scotland through till Wednesday. More rain arrives into Ireland / Scotland and Wales by mid-week, falling as wintry showers over the higher ground of Scotland on Thursday. A new rain front reaches Ireland by Thursday p.m and this rain eventually pushes south into The Midlands and Southern England giving a wet end to the week here, with the rain lasting most of the day.

Saturday starts off wet in Ireland and this rain pushes eastwards to affect Scotland, N.England, Wales and the South-West of England during the morning. These showers will affect The Midlands and the south of England during the day, pushed along on a mild, westerly wind. Sunday looks to continue the wet theme, with a strengthening wind.

Outlook

More of the same really as next week looks to start off mild, wet, with plenty of rain over the U.K and Ireland for Monday and Tuesday. Winds will be strong to gale force, strengthening the further north you go. As the high pressure system sits just below the U.K, temperatures will remain mild, with no risk of frost as we go into January. To be honest, I can’t see any change in the present weather pattern of alternating cool, wet low pressure systems and mild, southerly high pressure systems, so no winter on the horizon.

Agronomic Notes

It’ll be interesting to see when we’re back to work, how disease has developed over the Christmas period. I’m hoping that despite the mild temperatures, populations of Fusarium that have been kept under control prior to this, will have not developed significantly.Certainly with the milder temperatures they’ll have been some growth and for those of you who gambled and seeded areas late into the autumn (because of lack of rain prior to that) , that new seed will have continued to develop over this period. Thanks to all of you who have submitted rainfall figures, they’re providing an interesting insight into the pattern of rainfall over the U.K and Ireland.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

December 19th

Hi All,

Before I start the weather I’d just like to take this opportunity on my last post before Christmas to wish you all a happy and relaxing one, with a stress-free break from work. Certainly from the way the weather looks there won’t be too many issues for the Christmas period.

From the graphic above you can see why Paddy Power’s going to be keeping my White Christmas bets this year :(. This time last year we had heavy snow, penetrating frosts and for the naturalist, lot’s of Waxwings, a pretty winter migrant bird from Russia and Scandinavia that comes over most winters to feast on our berry crop. This year we have had very few Waxwings so far because they like to hitch a lift on an easterly wind to get over and we haven’t had an easterly air flow for months :(.

By the way, thanks for all your rainfall stats, keep them coming, I’ll try to put them together over the Christmas break.

General Weather Situation

As has been the case for the last 3 months, we have a protective high pressure sitting down in the Bay of Biscay and just like it has done all winter so far, it is preventing cold weather from intruding south. If you look to the right of us into continental Europe you can see what happens when the protective high is absent. Cold air is extending all the way down south through Turkey to Cyprus and beyond, so I hope you’re not nipping off there for some winter sun.

So for Monday we have a rain front pushing into Ireland and bringing milder air with it. I can see the change already because last night we were -2°C at midnight with clear skies, but now it’s +2°C with cloud cover. This rain will progress into S.W.England, Wales and Scotland by late morning, falling as snow where it meets the colder air, particularly over central Scotland. By lunchtime that rain is pretty much countrywide and it won’t be until early evening before it clears the South-East of England.

Tuesday is a quieter day, feeling a little milder with no frost, so an ideal spray day in my books. Later on in the day a fresh band of rain pushes into Connacht and Munster and progresses easterly into Wales, the North-West of England and the South-West for early Wednesday morning, but amounts lighten as it moves eastwards, so only light showers in other areas. It’ll feel significantly milder from Wednesday which after the early rain dissipates, will be a dry day for most, except Scotland where those showers may linger. With the milder air, the winds will pick up from the west from mid-week onwards and these winds will push another rain front through at the end of the week, so Friday starts wet for Ireland, but it’ll soon dry up and these showers will push into Wales, Western England on Friday morning, before dying out as they move south-easterly.

Outlook

Temperatures will drop back at the end of the week as a weak low pushes the wind more north-westerly, so it’ll feel a good bit chillier for Christmas Eve, with a brisk wind. For Christmas day it’ll be cool, breezy from the west, but largely dry, with only light rain showers confined to the north and Scotland. For Boxing Day, the weather looks pretty similar, but by mid-week, next week, those winds will drop, so I reckon this could bring back some risk of frost and fog patches to boot for a short while. Looking further ahead than this is tricky, but my hunch is remaining mild and wet into the New Year with a predominantly westerly wind stream.

Agronomics

Just like last week, the focus point is applying any pre-Christmas tonics / preventatives and thankfully it looks like we have some good spray days this week once the rain has moved. The wind will be a slight problem, but most of you have covered booms I guess, so no issue there. For Ireland and the west, the spray days will be a little later into the week because of the rain, but I’d hope you’d be ok by Wednesday.

Plenty of grub activity around at present, with Bibionid species doing the rounds due to the milder winter so far. These insects are the larvae of Fever Fly, St Mark’s Fly and live right in the surface of the organic matter and so represent an easy target for Corvids (members of the Crow Family), so damage is often caused by the pecking activity, rather than the grubs themselves.

At present there is no label recommendation for this larvae, although I’ve had reports that Chlorpyrifos has been effective when applied for Leatherjackets. The issue here is that these grubs are active right in the surface fibre.

Ok that’s it, I may squeeze a report in next week if the weather looks significantly interesting enough to pull me away from fishing, mountain biking and generally trying to work off that Christmas lard :) but we’ll see.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

Dec 12th

Hi All,

As we approach the Christmas week, I’m beginning to get asked how’s the weather looking for that period and the honest answer is that I’m not quite sure yet, though I have a strong suspicion that Paddy Power may take my money for my White Christmas bets this year :(

General Weather Situation

Last week’s forecast was reasonably accurate, except the deep low I predicted to influence our weather mid-week, this week is running about a day early. So we have a re-run of 10 days ago when a succession of cold, Arctic low pressure systems push south and as they butt up against the Atlantic high pressure system to the south-west of the U.K, they intensify in strength, particularly with respect to wind. So windy and at times very wet this week, with a bout of heavy rain late Monday / early Tuesday and again at the end of the week.

On to specifics – For Monday we have a quiet start to the week, but things are set to change through the day as cloud and wind builds from the west and rain pushes into Munster by early afternoon and quickly sweeps eastwards across Ireland and then into the west of England, Wales and Scotland by late tea time, covering all of the U.K later with a fair drop. These showers will fall as snow over higher ground in Scotland. The wind strengthens through Tuesday and like last week, although it’s from the traditionally milder westerly direction, it’ll feel pretty raw. Showers will be widely distributed first thing Tuesday, but after lunchtime they’ll be confined to the west of the U.K, Ireland and the west of Scotland. Those winds will be gale force and enough to cause structural damage unfortunately. (You’ll probably see some flying Christmas lights !). Wednesday will follow a similar pattern with strong winds, perhaps a little lighter than Tuesday, and lots of showers across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the westerly coasts of England. Elsewhere it’ll be dry and bright, but feeling cold, with blustery showers, fewer and farther between as we go eastwards. By Thursday,  the low pressure is moving off, but a new, intensely deep low is projected to build just north of Scotland and this will push heavy rain into Munster and Leinster by the afternoon, again falling as snow on higher ground (so a dusting for the Wicklow mountains is in order :). This front of heavy rain pushes quickly into the South-West of England, Thursday p.m and across England , Wales and Scotland. It’ll fall as snow the further north it progresses, but heavy rain is on the cards further south. By Friday, it’ll feel even colder as the wind moves round to the north / north-west and that’ll really drop the temperatures for the weekend. For later on Friday and Saturday, they’ll be showers across Munster and Connacht, Scotland and the west coast of England, but it’ll be bright and raw elsewhere once the wind changes direction.

Outlook

The outlook for the weekend is largely dry, but feeling very cold with north / north-west winds. They’ll be wintry showers over Ireland, Scotland and the west coast of England, with some accumulation of snow predicted over Wales. Those strong, cold, north winds remain for Sunday, but thereafter a milder, high pressure system is predicted to push over Ireland and the west of the U.K. Winds will move round to the west and it’ll be mild as these winds originate over North Africa would you believe. My forecast reaches its limit then, but I reckon for Christmas, we’ll have westerly winds, cooler and maybe wet over the south of the U.K / Ireland, but I’d only bank on snow for Scotland over high ground at this stage because once again the Atlantic high is keeping the cold air to the north of the U.K.

Agronomic Notes

I’ve had some good feedback on soil temperatures and rainfall of late (thanks Kevan and Davey) and I’d like to get a handle across all of the U.K and Ireland how much rainfall you’ve had year to date. So if you feel up to it, please drop me an email or post to this blog (either click the bubble to the right of the title or the link at the end of the blog) with your stats and if I get time over the Christmas period, I’ll put together a schematic so we can all see the rainfall situation.

The main topic of conversation has to be preventative sprays over the Christmas period, whether they be simple hardeners / irons to present the course well  or dew control and fungicide sprays for disease suppression. At this moment I think we’ll have a good spray window next week, as in w/c 19th December, because aside from today, I reckon this week is out due to the heavy rainfall pulses and above all the strength of the wind.

Personally, I always favour picking the greens / tees up prior to Christmas because weather allowing, the period from Christmas to New Year can be busy on the golf course and it helps to compensate for the extra wear and tear that this play brings.

Although this week looks pretty bad weather-wise, it’s nothing like last year for most of us and I’ll leave you with the thought that we’re only 10 days away from the shortest day of the year. Thereafter we’re heading towards more daylight :)

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

December 5th

Hi All,

I can always tell when my work / life balance gets really out of kilter by the number of unread issues of New Scientist on my desk. Currently it stands at 4 weeks worth, so something is definitely wrong :), hence the delay in posting this update…

Onto the weather and we have a recurring weather pattern for this week and next. If you look at the above graphic, note the shape and pattern of the weather systems for Monday – 5th December and Wednesday 14th December, they’re very similar.

General Weather Situation

As predicted last week (smart arse award), we’re currently in the grip of a very cold low pressure system that’s pulling in strong westerly wind and moisture. In Scotland and the North of England, this is falling as snow, further south, as rain. One normally associates a westerly wind with mild temperatures, but that’s not the case at present and you can see why from the rolling graphic above, those winds originate over Iceland, so are polar in nature..(read very cold)…As we go through the early part of this week, the pattern is fixed with strong, biting cold, westerly winds, plenty of heavy showers, some of these turning wintry, right down to the Midlands. These showers will fall late on Monday, throughout Tuesday and Wednesday and since they’re coming from the west, they’ll reach Ireland first, so take 8-12 hours off those timings if you’re there…Late on Wednesday, a wave of mild air pushes through, just like last week and temperatures will pick up markedly on Thursday. The wind will still be westerly, but much milder and they’ll be rain associated with this mild front, heavy for Munster later on Wednesday and then pushing east into the rest of the U.K for Thursday, again falling heavier over the higher ground in the South-West, Wales and North-West England.

A North-South temperature divide will develop as the North of England and Scotland stays in the grip of the cold low, whilst from the Midland’s south, it warms up with that mild rain. Thursday will dry up p.m and Friday looks to start mainly dry, but a little cooler, particularly in the evening.. By Friday p.m, a new rain front reaches Ireland, this again pushes eastwards on a westerly air stream to affect all areas over Friday night and Saturday morning, clearing later in the day to leave a dry Sunday, before the next rain front marches in…

Outlook

Next week looks to start off windy, wet, but mild, before a new polar low begins to exert its influence by mid-week and we start the pattern again. That is to say, cold westerly winds, wintry showers in Scotland and the North of England, perhaps reaching further south to The Midlands by the end of the week. Yet again though we have that protective, Atlantic high pressure system sitting below this arctic low pressure and preventing it from really moving south, so at present I can see us running back into mild weather for the weekend before Christmas, but it’ll only need to shift south and we’ll have snow, so keep those sledges handy :)

Agronomic Notes

Soil temperatures have just dropped away over the last week or so and there endeth a very busy month growth-wise !. You can see from the graph below that in November 2010, growth stopped around the 9th of November, but in 2011, the corresponding temperature point occurred on the 28th of November, nearly three weeks later. Looking at growth potential in growth-degree-days, there was 163% more growth in November 2011 vs. 2010, so that explains the extra labour and diesel requirement for the month, not to mention the extra disease pressure….

Disease pressure has also declined with the cold temperatures of the last 5 days or so, but expect it to make a slight surge towards the end of this week, so be on your guard. Personally, I think if you have kept Fusarium populations low up till now, the chance of getting hit with a bad disease outbreak is much, much lower. On this note, I’ll be giving a Christmas forecast with a specific ‘heads up’ on spray days this time next week. That said, with the current pattern of deep, low pressure systems, that means high winds and tricky spraying conditions, but we’ll see closer to the time.

Plenty of worm activity around at the moment with the arrival of some rain and I expect this to continue for the next week or so particularly since it’s likely that the rain on Thursday will increase the soil temperature again, as it will fall at 10°C or thereabouts. Still can’t complain, we need every drop of the stuff at the moment…

All the best

Mark Hunt