Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 30th

Hi All,

Back from a hectic Harrogate, thanks to everyone who dropped by the stand and made it our best show ever I’d say and my apologies to anyone that I didn’t manage to talk to. I’m conscious that there were a good number of people who came back to try and have a chat but I was tied up, sorry, no offence meant or hopefully taken :)

Last week’s forecast was pretty accurate for the coming week, but this week coming or more specifically from next weekend onwards is going to be a tough one to call. Certainly I’d say that for this year, the tradition of cold weather for the start of February will hold true.

General Weather Situation

For this week we have a  north-easterly, high pressure system in charge, which is a rarity as weather patterns have gone so far this winter.  This will pull cold air off the continent and push in cold south-easterly / easterly winds this week, particularly from mid-week onwards when temperatures will take a pronounced dip. For the start of the week, we have cold rain over Ireland trying to push eastwards and as it hits that cold continental weather, it’ll turn to snow. At present this looks likely to affect the west side of the U.K, particularly Wales for Monday and Tuesday, with some snow also over central Scotland. Ireland looks like staying wet for these two days, whilst central and eastern U.K will stay dry, cool / cold, with the odd sunny interval and night frost, though this depends entirely on cloud cover. Temperatures will be low to mid-single figures for early part of the week and I don’t expect it to get much above freezing from Wednesday onwards.  The rain will move off from Ireland mid-week as that cold air pushes it away and that’ll signal temperatures to drop everywhere on Wednesday, with a penetrating frost likely. The same is true for Thursday and Friday, but it’s at the end of the week that the uncertainty creeps in on my part as a cold low is predicted to push down from Iceland and bring moisture into the equation.

Outlook

If the forecasted weather patterns are correct and the deep Icelandic low pushes down, I expect it to pull in moist air that will hit the cold continental air at the start of next week and fall as snow. At this stage it looks like quite significant falls are likely from Tuesday onwards, but I must add, a lot can change at this time of year. That said, the position of the high and low pressure systems are significantly different from the set situation we’ve had for months now, with that protective high pushed down south, allowing cold air to move down.. We’ll see, it could be time to get that sledge out of the attic!

Agronomic Notes

Not a lot to report this week because I was on the stand at Harrogate for 90% of last week, so I didn’t get out and about. A couple of points that I found interesting from sitting in fellow speakers talks at The Turf Managers Conference – the first was a point made by Dr Colin Fleming from Queen’s University, Belfast; a lot of you will know or have heard of Colin from his work on Plant Parasitic Nematodes. He made the point that last year’s weather patterns in Ireland and I think Scotland produced extremely low levels of light, with continual cloud cover and low amounts of direct sunlight during the summer. This caused substantial negative affects on growth with very low yields of some crops, particularly those sensitive to U.V radiation, like Maize for example. It made me think that it must also have had a suppressive effect on grass growth because we know shady greens have a completely different growth dynamic to ones in the open.

The second was listening to an excellent American lecturer on sustainability (would you believe) and promoting the benefits of a certain grass species and sulphate of ammonia as a fertiliser source. I had to pinch myself to stop me pointing out to him that 60% of Europe’s sulphate of ammonia production, was brought by the Brazilians recently… to allow them to grow biofuel… to sell to America… so they can tick the green box whilst they run their gas guzzlers. Meanwhile as a consequence, we have to contend with high nitrogen prices and poor availability; it’s a small world and one where this type of resource grabbing will become more and more of an issue.

All the best and wrap up well this week – I may do a quickie update mid-late this week on that snow threat to keep you posted.

Mark Hunt

 

January 23rd

Hi All,

Apologies to all who did not receive notification yesterday (Monday 23rd) about this post due to some minor technical issues with our new mail server. These have been corrected now so we shouldn’t have this problem again :) Anyway, on with the blog…

Typing this from my hotel room at Harrogate prior to the educational conference tomorrow and the show, Tue, Wed, Thur. As I normally do, I was reading through last week’s blog to see how accurate the forecast was and for sure I was a long way off at the weekend with the strength of the wind.  I was out mountain biking on Saturday and boy was it hard work cycling against it, I was in the granny gears  a lot of the time :) On the plus side, isn’t it noticeable how the evenings are beginning to draw out already?

Thanks to Paul in I.T. for collating the data and putting it together and all of you who submitted data to our first rainfall survey, you’ll find the interactive version here and a download-able version here (You’ll need Adobe Reader to view the downloadable version, follow this link if you haven’t already got it).

General Weather Situation

Well those high winds have come about as a consequence of a low pressure system sliding diagonally down the side of our resident high out to the west of us over the Atlantic. I looked back at some weather charts last week and we’ve had the same basic weather pattern now for close on 4 months. That is to say an Atlantic high sitting just off the west coast of Ireland and stubbornly holding off incoming low pressure systems. A consequence of this is that our wind direction has been westerly / north-westerly nearly all the time with only a few days of south-easterly and no easterlies at all to speak of. (no bad thing there)

Onto this week; the weather is going to continue the unsettled, mild and windy theme as another low pressure system pushes down and brings rain and strong north-westerly / westerly winds through till the end of the week, when it looks like the high will re-assert itself and we’ll lose the wind, but also the temperature, with overnight frosts again putting in an appearance for the weekend. Temperatures will be double figures Tuesday and Wednesday, but as that low pushes through, colder air will follow behind, so I expect Thursday and Friday will be increasingly cooler. The main rain events for the week begin with blustery showers, wintry over higher ground in the north, for Monday with rain pushing into Munster during the morning and heading south-east across Ireland into Wales and the South-West of England, but amounts should be light. Over Scotland I expect those showers to fall as snow. Tuesday looks like being a wet day for most areas, with rain pushing into Ireland overnight Monday and onto the whole of the U.K, reaching The Midlands by morning rush hour and persisting through most of the day. More rain is forecast for Wednesday, initially over Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the West of England, but again it’ll push inland during the day. Thursday look similar,but with lighter amounts of rain and the colder temperatures, that rain will turn to sleet and snow in Scotland and the north of England. I expect it to fell pretty raw in the wind as it begins to move round to the north-west for Friday. At this stage Friday looks drier, but with the drop in temperatures and ground frost more likely, any moisture that is about may fall as snow in the west and North Wales in particular.

Outlook

I expect the wind to drop by the weekend, but it’ll feel cold with a high likelihood of frost for both days. The week commencing the 30th January looks like starting off with high pressure in charge, so dry on the whole with an increasingly colder feel to things as that high pressure brings cold air off the continent on an easterly wind. It’s often said that the first two weeks of February are the coldest weeks of the year and certainly it’ll be interesting to see if that’s the case in 2012.

Agronomic Notes

Golf courses are on the whole looking in good order for mid-January IMHO with a little bit of new growth on outfield areas since we came out of those frosts last week. I was at a local course of Friday and greens in the shade were still frozen 2″ down, even though it was raining and the air temperature was 9°C. So although we haven’t had many frosts, those of last week / weekend were pretty penetrating! Disease activity appears low with a small amount of Fusarium about, but no horror stories and I think we’re set fair going into February, the last month of winter :)

Of course the mild weather, has brought rain to a lot of areas and that means quite a bit of Bibionid activity, with lots of pecking from Corvids (Crow family) noticeable. The concern for me remains the lack of appreciable rainfall for us here in The Midlands and thoughts will soon turn to how supplies are placed for the coming Spring / Summer. Remember last year, we actually had negative E.T. as early as February, that is to say more moisture was evaporating from the ground than was received from rainfall, difficult to believe I know.

Moss has kicked off big time since Christmas with a lot of new moss growth noticeable on outfield areas, kicked into life by the mild temperatures and wet weather. It’ll soon be time for a high iron treatment for these areas and in my view, the earlier the better as long as the moss has wetted up properly. I’d suggest starting from as early as mid-February if conditions allow you to get out and about on the course and apply.

All the best..

Mark Hunt

January 16th

Hi All,

Well, that’s 4 hard frosts in a row, down to -4.5°C here last night, all courtesy of a  winter high pressure system that’s brought clear days and bright sunshine and of course no rain.

Looking at the rainfall stats I’ve had in (thanks everyone), it’s not difficult to see why Rutland Water is 22ft below its normal level and Eyebrook Reservoir about 12ft. The Midlands (and South Kent) were the driest areas in the country during 2011 and the winter has so far failed to deliver significant rain. The reason is the long-term blocking event associated with the position of high pressure systems out in the Atlantic. As you can see from the graphic above it’s pushing cold and moist air down into Europe and leaving us dry. Unless this changes pretty soon, we’re going to be in a tricky situation with respect to water this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Weather Situation

This week will start cold and dry with widespread frost extending into Tuesday, but by Wednesday it’s all change as a low pressure system pushes into the U.K and Ireland from the north-west. The wind will swing round to the south-west as a front of mild, wet air pushes in during Tuesday / Wednesday, with rain reaching Connacht and Scotland on Tuesday late afternoon and moving down overnight Wednesday to affect the rest of the U.K. This will set the scene from mid-week till the end of the week with successive bands of showers pushed down across Ireland and the U.K through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, on the back of mild air, with temperatures in low double figures and no frost. As we approach the end of the week, the temperatures will begin to drop down again, as the wind changes to a more north-westerly / north direction and the risk of frost increases particularly down the eastern side of the country. Over the weekend, the winds  decrease further, temperatures drop and we’re back to a winter high, though I think this one will have more cloud associated with it.

Weather Outlook

At this stage, next week looks to be cold, dry and dull, with only a light risk of rain and this appears to hold till mid-week or possibly past mid-week, thereafter another low looks to try and shift that stubborn high out of the way and bring rain and higher winds for the end of next week.

 Agronomic Notes

Not much to report this week as we’ve been pretty frozen for the last 4-5 days and with falling soil temperatures, that ‘s growth knocked on the head for awhile. I don’t see it recovering much this week, because despite the milder air, mid-week, it won’t last long enough to move the soil temperature up significantly before it drops again at the weekend.

Later this week we’ll be posting the Google Map showing the rainfall stats for this year from those of you who submitted them, once again, thanks to everyone who contributed, I’ll make it a regular event now I think because it does highlight specific rainfall levels per region and the variability that exists in rainfall itself. For instance, there are two clubs, 25 miles apart whose rainfall is different by 200mm, 8 inches !.

Interestingly, the Irish  regulatory body (PCS) always insists that the climate in Ireland is different to the U.K from a rainfall perspective and therefore different product testing data is required. Well you’ll see from the stats, that this isn’t the case, at least not in 2011, because the East of Ireland is similar to South of England, the South-West of Ireland is similar to the South-West of England and the West of Ireland is similar to Scotland. I appreciate that alot of other parameters are different, but the distinction is made from a rainfall perspective.

All the best and I hope to catch up with some of you next week at Harrogate.

Mark Hunt

January 9th

Hi All,

After last weeks high winds and rainfall, this week is going to be quiet and pretty uneventful with high pressure dominating, so reasonable temperatures, not a great deal of sunshine, little rain and light winds. Towards the end of the week, temperatures will drop and the risk of ground frost increases. For my continental friends (Chris, Michael, Tommy) who haven’t seen the sun for awhile now and have had plenty of rain, I think you’ll also dry up, but it will feel colder :(

Thanks to all of you so far who’ve sent me rainfall data, I can tell you that the driest place in the U.K and Ireland received 223mm in 2011 and the wettest, 2670mm ! Keep them coming please, particularly any from the South-West, North-West and North East of England, Scotland and Wales.

General Weather Situation

High pressure is in charge for this week as the graphic above shows, so that means pretty settled conditions and a chance for all of the disruption from last week to be put right. Monday will be settled with light westerly winds and light showers over mid-Wales, the North of England, elsewhere it’ll be dry and a little dull. Tuesday looks a similar picture only with some light showers moving across Connacht, Munster and later Leinster. Wednesday follows a similar pattern with some light rate into Scotland, but again, elsewhere dry, if a little dull with hazy sunshine. Temperatures should be 9-10°C during the day and only a little cooler at night. Thursday sees some rain in Scotland, but again pretty dry elsewhere and the same on Friday, though by this stage it’ll feel colder and there’s a strong risk of frost towards the end of the week, particularly in Scotland and The North, but extending south by Friday.

Weather Outlook

For the weekend, it looks dry and settled, a little breezier on Saturday from the south-east, but it’ll feel noticeably cooler with a widespread frost on Saturday and Sunday expected. For the early part of next week the next low pressure system begins to exert its influence so that means the winds pickup from the west / north-west and the likelihood of rain increases, with winds strengthening from Tuesday / Wednesday onwards and heavy rain moving through. Once again we’re protected from the worst because of the resident Atlantic high, but it’ll be cold, windier with some of those showers being wintry in nature.

Agronomic Notes

The feedback from most people is that the Christmas period showed only light Fusarium activity if disease populations had been kept low through October and November. Coupled with milder weather towards the end of December, greens responded well to pre-Christmas tonics and this has brought them into the New Year in a good, healthy state by and large. That’s not to say that Fusarium has been absent, just that the majority of clubs have come through reasonably clean, but no doubt they’ll be some horror stories.

If your site is dry enough (and I appreciate many aren’t), this week would provide a good opportunity for vertidraining, spiking , slitting because the reasonable temperatures and low level of top growth will be encouraging the plant to bias its energy towards root development, instead of shoot / leaf production. That said, I’ve noticed outfield, higher height of cut areas have put on some new growth over the last 7 days, though I think this will come to a halt by the weekend.

All the best..

Mark Hunt

January 3rd

Hi All,

Slight glitch this week in that this post should have gone out on Tuesday, the 3rd January, when I created and published it, but it didn’t, so a slightly delayed welcome to 2012, and here’s wishing you a good one for the year to come.

I have to be honest, I’m not a fan of New Year, never have been , but I comfort myself with the fact that I can see my Hellebore’s and the first Snow Drops pushing through, we’ve got off lightly so far winter-wise and we’re only 8 weeks away from the start of March :)

General Weather Situation

Well this year’s started off with a bang with the high winds and rainfall courtesy of a deep Atlantic, low pressure system – see graphic above. These high winds will stay with us for awhile and vary between westerly and north-westerly, so feeling cooler than the barmy days of late December. The pattern of our weather systems remains the same with high pressure sitting south-west of the U.K and blocking cold, arctic, low pressure systems from the north. Occasionally one of these low pressure systems forces its way in and we get a cold interlude with north winds, but these have been short-lived and noticeable by their absence this winter.

Onto the weather for this week – Currently we have this intense low pressure system pushing gale force winds and heavy rain across the U.K. Just now we had a storm here that looked like someone was steam-cleaning my road, such was the ferocity of the wind and rain ! These gale force winds will remain until close of play on Thursday and they’ll quickly swing round to the north-west, so it’ll feel chillier than of late. Wednesday will be drier in the south and Ireland (initially), but from midday, a new rain front will push into Ireland, Scotland and the north of England, falling as snow over higher ground. Later on Wednesday it’ll push into Wales and early on Thursday, into the south-west of England, but mainly affecting the west of the U.K. Later on Thursday it’ll dry up for the west, but elsewhere it should be dry all day, albeit still with those gale force winds, so lots of trees and branches down this week I’m afraid. Friday sees a weak band of showers move across Ireland and the west of the U.K, but amounts should be light. Temperatures will be high single figures, but feeling chillier in the wind. For the weekend, it looks more settled, with lighter winds, but still feeling cold, particularly on the eastern side of the U.K as that low persists close-by over Europe.

Outlook

Next week looks to be a lot more settled than this week, with lighter winds, but that may mean it’ll be a little colder (high single figures is normal for January), with a risk of frost towards the end of the week and most likely fog, particularly at the start of the week. From Wednesday / Thursday, the winds begin to strengthen again from the west as another low pressure system tries to push south and in doing so butts up against our resident high pressure. I expect this may mean a wet end to next week / weekend with the return of strong winds, but not as bad as this week !

Agronomic Notes

As you can see from the graph below showing soil temperature for November / December 2011 vs. 2010, the end to last year was very different from the previous one. In fact, 7 of the last 10 nights of December 2011 were in double figures, air temperature-wise and that’s meant a recurrence of Fusarium activity for some.

On the flipside, we’ve had an opportunity for growth during the latter part of December, so any scarring should be healing in as we speak, though I expect soil temperatures to drop this week and stay down. If you have got active Fusarium, it’s going to be difficult to treat until the latter part of this week unless you’ve got covered booms because of the strength of the wind and the amount of rain we’ve had.

I’d be interested to know whether you’ve gone through this period clean or not, bearing in mind the mild weather and higher than normal soil temperatures.

I expect continued activity from Bibionid larvae with the mild weather and since I posted on the topic, a number of you have posted back to say they represent a significant problem on your course, with very little success in controlling them or the effects of Crows, Badgers, Foxes digging for them. Has anyone achieved any success on this front ?

All the best…

Mark Hunt