Monthly Archives: February 2017

February 27th

170227_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Nearly out of February then and March beckons just around the corner. It was quite an interesting week last week weather-wise with Feb202017a balmy start to the week in the south of England with temperatures tipping 18°C along the M25 (Thanks Mark for the piccie).

3 days later we had snow and blizzards in Scotland and North England and extremely strong wind gusts courtesy of Storm Doris. I was out on golf courses last Thursday and you could hardly stand up, flags were being ripped from flag poles and sand was being blown out of bunkers and topdressing collars and greens. (and shot blasting anyone in the way as well)

Quite something to behold.

We have another storm heading our way, Ewan this one is called, nothing like Doris in terms of wind strength I don’t think but it will bring more rain, some strong winds (for the north particularly) and a colder slant to the weather this week. As predicted March will start cooler than February ended, so much for the calandar eh ?

General Weather Situation

sTORMeWANSo we start Monday with Ewan already in situ as can be seen by the Unisys graphic on the right of this picture. It’ll bring strong winds, cool weather and a mix of rain, sleet and snow to the U.K and Ireland across Monday. So starting off we already see the effects of Ewan on Monday morning with rain across the south east of England and wintry showers affecting the west of Scotland and north west of England, whereas Ireland starts off bright and clear. Through the morning we will see rain / wintry showers clearing Scotland and pushing into Wales and England by lunchtime from the west. Ireland will also see showers pushing into the west at the same time. During the afternoon that mix of rain, sleet and snow on higher elevations will push east across Ireland and the U.K, whilst Scotland remains clear, bright and cold for the remainder of Monday.

With respect to night frosts this week, they are more likely Monday to Thursday inclusive but a lot will depend of your overnight cloud cover, if you clear you’ll have a light ground frost, if you stay covered you won’t.

A chilly day as you can see from the temperature gradients above, it’ll feel quite parky with single figures the name of the game, mid-single figures across Scotland and high single figures for Ireland, Wales and England despite the light to moderate south west wind.

Onto Tuesday and overnight we see a mix of snow, sleet and rain across Wales, The Midlands and the south of England with snow likely over elevations. Scotland will also see some wintry showers affecting the north west coastline as well, whereas Ireland starts dry and cold. A widespread ground frost is likely depending on cloud cover across your area. Through Tuesday morning we will see those wintry showers become confined to western coasts across England and Wales whereas Scotland will see those wintry showers push south and east from their original north west location. Ireland will also see some wintry showers into Donegal and north west Connacht. By dusk these showers are set to affect the western coastline of the U.K, all the way up from the south west to Scotland, but Ireland stays largely dry save for those north western showers. Again another chilly one with similar temperatures to Monday, mid to high single figures kept down by that moderate to strong westerly / north westerly wind which will reach gale force during Tuesday night across The Midlands and south of the U.K.

Onto Wednesday, the first day of March and that chilly theme to the week continues disrespecting the calendar completely :) It will be drier though on Wednesday as we start cool and clear with some high cloud and the odd snow shower working across the north east coast of Scotland. At the same time we see a band of rain pushing into Kerry and moving north and east through the morning diagonally. By lunchtime this rain is across south Munster and tip-toeing into the south west of England, whilst those wintry showers continue across and along The Moray Firth and The Black Isle. Through the course of the afternoon that diagonal band of rain pushes slowly up across Ireland and England reaching South Wales shortly before dusk. North and east of this band of rain you should have a settled day, remaining cool though with mid to high single figures the norm I’m afraid. The wind will remain moderate to strong and south / north westerly in nature except for Scotland where it’ll be more northerly.

Overnight into Thursday sees that mix of rain, sleet and snow push up from South Wales and the south west of England into The Midlands and East Anglia. They’ll also be some further rain, wintry showers nipping at Donegal and the north west of Scotland. By daybreak on Thursday we will see that rain, sleet and snow across the north west of England / south west of Scotland and pushing inland more as snow I think. They’ll also be rain for Connacht and Donegal (looks like Leinster gets off lightly this week :) ). Through the course of Thursday morning we will see a band of rain, some of it heavy push into Kerry and move diagonally into Leinster later. We will also see a continuation of rain, sleet and snow across the north west of England. South and east of this that earlier moisture will dissipate to give a clear and cool day for Thursday but with some sunshine making an appearance mind. In that sunshine temperatures will rise to break double figures pushed along by a milder and stronger south west airstream. Spoke too soon for Leinster as I expect that Kerry rain to extend up across Munster into Leinster through the course of Thursday afternoon, sorry lads :(

Scotland in the meantime will see those morning wintry showers once again push east and south inland through the course of the day, slow to clear the west cost though. Temperature-wise, as already hinted, we look milder on Thursday across The Midlands, the south of England and Wales but remaining cool across Scotland and Ireland under that cloud cover and rain.

Closing out what has been another busy weather week we see another band of rain push across Ireland and into Wales / north west of England overnight and this will move into The Midlands / north west of England first thing on Friday. They’ll also be rain across the south east of England, but Ireland and Scotland look to be pretty dry. It won’t last for Scotland though as that rain across northern England pushes into Scotland by late morning falling as wintry showers across elevation. Ireland looks to stay dry. Through Friday afternoon a more concentrated band of rain will push up from the south into southern England and then proceed northwards across Wales, The Midlands where it may become heavy and localised on Friday night I’m afraid. (bugger, bugger, bugger, another weekend of coloured water ot fish in :( ) So a wet end to Friday for England, Wales and Scotland but I think Ireland will stay dry and pleasantly sunny with high, hazy cloud. Temperatures remaining the wrong side of double figures as that cool theme for the week continues even though the wind will be southerly, south westerly in nature.

Looking at the all-important weekend, the first of March and the outlook will remain unsettled but at least we will lose that wind with a calmer theme to the weekend, wind-wise. Unsettled for on Saturday across many regions, the north and north east particularly but we should see plenty of sun on Saturday, some showers acround in the areas mentioned but these will disipate through the course of Saturday to give a pleasant if slightly cool day with mid to high single figures maybe touching double figures in the south of England and Ireland in a light to moderate westerly wind. Sunday looks more unsettled as a low pressure system is set to cross the south of Ireland so more risk of rain there in the south and west and this may spill over to the south and west of England / Wales through Sunday morning. At a pinch I think the 2nd part of the day will be better than the first with a greater threat of rain across the south of the U.K. Temperatures for the weekend remaining on the cool side for the 1st week of March.

Weather Outlook

So will March continue cooler than February as winter does its by now traditionally thing and extend into what was our spring season ?

Next week looks to start off quieter and drier with light winds you’ll be pleased to know but I think we may see a ground frost. I think we will also see a milder theme to the week as westerly winds become established from Tuesday onwards so quite possibly a sunshine and showers week is likely with milder temperatures than this week. There’s a possibility of more concentrated rain on Thursday next week and this may spill over to Friday but drier on the whole (so less heavy rain dumps), staying unsettled though and milder.

Agronomic Notes

Growth Windows…

I know we aren’t out of February quite yet but I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the last 7 weeks or so and see how growth has been and compare it with 2016. If we look at a straight GDD comparison for The Oxfordshire location this is how it looks ;

GDDJanFeb201617TheOx

So you can see that the 2017 and 2016 compare very similarly in terms of total GDD to date from January 1st, but the pattern of when this growth occurred is quite different. In 2016 we had pretty even growth spread across January and February, but in 2017 we had a much colder January and a much milder February.

I reckon it’ll turn out to be the mildest February since we started recording GDD back in 2010.

Let’s have a closer look at when exactly that growth occurred for this location 2017 vs. 2016 ;

GPJanFeb2016TheOx

So you can see in 2016 the main growth occurred at the start of January and February with very little after the mid-part of the month.

GPJanFeb2017TheOx

The pattern for 2017 is quite different with again that early January / early February growth but then the very pronounced growth spike that really started a week ago with that balmy / barmy Monday producing a daily G.P figure of 0.66 which is unheard of in my books for February.

To get it into perspective how different this type of growth is, in Spring 2016 we didn’t hit a daily G.P figure of 0.66 till the first week of May !

Using this to your advantage…..

I know a lot of you have been busy maximising the potential gain from this growth window whether it be aerating, topdressing (if ground conditions allow) and applying granular fertiliser. Most people are reporting an increase in clip yield over the last week which is allowing disease scars to grow in, worn areas to recover and the plant to be primed up going into potential aeration in March / April.

The simple fact is we have to throw the calendar out of the window nowadays and work to the conditions that Mother Nature and The Jetstream throw our way. We cannot afford to miss these windows and not gain maximum leverage from them if we are to continue presenting a good product for the end-user.

We also know this window may end up giving us a better potential for growth than possibly some weeks in March and April, it certainly did last year when we had cool nights and low G.P / GDD all through March and April 2016 making recovery from aeration / disease scarring a tricky affair for many. It’s a clear case of Tempus Fugit my friends…:)

Wind, humidity and disease…..

So we can see last week that we had some pretty mild night and day temperatures but to the best of my feedback and experience so far we didn’t see the onset of new disease outbreaks nor great flare ups on existing scars, so why was that ?

mcelium3

Let’s look at two different weeks and analyse the data, the first is the end of October 2016 where we saw very aggressive Microdochium nivale activity with widespread activity not just on greens, but on tees, approaches, fairways, lawns and sports pitches. The second is the week just gone, so February 2017, when we didn’t see the same effect.

Let’s look at the temperatures, where they different ?

AirtempOct2016Feb2017

Well not really, the day time temperatures were a little warmer back in October 2016 but the night time temperatures were if anything warmer this past week. So why didn’t we see disease activity ?

The answer is that the relative humidity, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere was much lower last week than it was at the end of October and the reason for that wasn’t rainfall but wind. At the end of October 2016 we had a high pressure sitting over us which diverted any wind up and over the U.K and Ireland so we had very little wind and hence drying effect on the grass leaf. It was humid and so the leaf sat wet and with mild overnight temperatures it was a perfect environment for fungal disease hence the images like the one above. Last week we had similar air temperatures but we were windy, in fact very windy so we had 7-8mm of E.T and that meant good drying conditions (between the rain / sleet), lower relative humidity and a drier leaf, the result, less disease.

You can see the relationship between wind strength and humidity on this graph of the two parameters taken from a weather station on an ‘open aspect’ golf course ;

WinRHThe Belfry

So you can see how the humidity dips when the wind strength increases, not all the time of course because sometimes high winds are pushing in rain, but most of the time. Once that Relative Humidity goes above 95% then we have a wet leaf and if that coincides with high night time temperatures then we have aggressive disease.

Wst200217

Last week the relative humidity sat below 90% even during the mild nights because of the strong wind aspect as you can see from this snap of my weather station taken last week at 22.06 p.m. (Disregard the inside temperature of 16°C I am a notoriously tight so and so with my central heating :) )

So when you are doing tree work to increase air flow around a green for example, you can show them this information so golfers and the like can see why you are doing it, to give more light and lower the Relative Humidity by increasing air flow. Of course you links guys don’t have trees so you have good wind characteristics on most days (well ok too much most of the time) but one of the good flipsides from this is that your relative humidity will be much lower than an inland course and that’s one of the reaosns why your disease pressure is less, rejoice :)

Ok that’s it for now, see you in March…

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

February 20th

170220_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

SnowdropsWhat a difference a week makes eh ? A week last Saturday it was barely above freezing, sleeting and right grim. This weekend we had double figure temperatures, ok not much sunshine but it was lovely to walk in the countryside and see areas beginning to dry up. Even my worst-feared, claggy fields were negotiable without taking most of the field with me on my boots :)

Lovely to see the Snowdrops as well poking through in beautiful displays with Aconites abundant as well. Ok you know it’s unlikely to last and sure enough temperatures will drop from Wednesday as the wind swings round but such a respite is food for the soul and mind I reckon. I even heard lawnmowers on the wind yesterday morning as their winter shed hibernation was rudely interupted….I reckon we have another week of this milder weather (up and down during mind) and then we will loose that westerly airflow and then it might get chilly…

General Weather Situation

Today is going to be a balmy, barmy February day and likely the warmest on record in places though I remember February 1976 was similarly warm, is this a portent as that was one of our driest years ever….?

Ok so Monday looks like being very, very mild indeed with temperatures hitting 16-17°C in places, unbelievable. It won’t be dry everywhere though with some persistent rain across the west of Scotland, the north west of Ireland and across the eastern counties as we kick off the week. Through the morning this rain will slink southwards into north west England whilst still affecting the west of Scotland and north west of Ireland. By lunchtime you could be picking up some showers in The Pennines but that’s as far south it is forecast to go. South of this rain we can expect a brighter start to the day with sunshine and hazy cloud cover and this will allow temperatures to build. That said here we were > 11°C overnight so they’re starting from a high base temperature. Through Monday afternoon that rain will slink down the western Irish coastline into south west / west Munster and do the same in the U.K, dropping down into Wales. Mild everywhere, 11-12°C under that rain and cloud across Ireland / Scotland, but in the hazy sunshine I expect the south of England to hit 17°C in a warm westerly wind. Stick you hand out of the car window and feel the warmth in the air because it won’t last….

Onto Tuesday and we still have some rain affecting West Munster and The Midlands of England as it slipped south overnight. Elsewhere we look clear of rain especially along the east coast of the U.K, but through the morning we will see showers slip into western Scotland, Ireland and by the afternoon these will move south and east affecting inland locations. The east looks to stay dry. Through the afternoon that rain intensifies over Ireland and Scotland reaching Leinster in the former and some of those showers will cross into South Wales, The Mildands and eastern counties as the day draws to a close.  With more cloud cover and less sun, temperatures will slip back into the early teens for most, not to be sniffed at though.  Winds will be moderate to strong and westerly in nature.

Mid-week beckons already and Wednesday sees the wind take on a north western slant later in the day so that’ll knock some degrees off the temperature and make you reach for another layer me thinks, still nice though for the end of February. Overnight we see a heavy band of rain and wintry showers (over Scotland) push into Ireland and Scotland and by dawn this is down into Wales, the north of England and north Midlands though remaining more on the westerly side of the country. Through the morning this band of rain clears Ireland by and large and fizzles out across most of the U.K, except north west Scotland, leaving behind it cooler, fresher weather as the wind swings round to the north west. So temperatures just breaking double figures and showing quite a slide from the heady heights of the beginning of the week, though for the south of England I think you’ll hang onto that temperature for longer so maybe 11-12°C here.  Winds will be moderate to strong and north westerly. As we go into Wednesday night a new band of rain pushes into the west of Ireland and quickly crosses the country through what remains of the day.

Thursday sees that overnight Irish rain now resident over most of the U.K and Ireland and likely to fall as snow over Scotland and The Lakes. It’s likely to be heaviest across the north west of England, North Wales and across The Borders I think at this stage. A much colder day and this will see plenty of wintry showers across Scotland and the north of England whereas further south it’ll fall as rain. By lunchtime Thursday, the rain should clear the south of Ireland and England as well but it’ll remain rooted to the north of England and Scotland though you’ll start to see some breaks in the cloud by lunchtime. Through the afternoon that mix of rain, sleet and snow continues to affect the north west of Ireland, North Wales, north west England and Scotland with some of those showers increasingly finding their way across to the north east of England and Scotland as we progress through Thursday. A much cooler day and part of the reason for that is a bitingly strong to gale force, west / north west wind which will create significant windchill. In that wind expect mid-single figures only, maybe creeping up to 7-9°C in places out of the wind and in the sun. Quite a change from the beginning of the week.

Closing out the week, Friday sees most of that yucky weather cleared away into The North Sea but there’s still a risk of some wintry showers across North Wales, north east Scotland and north west England. A much brighter day on Friday with some prolonged spells of sunshine and hazy cloud cover. Through the morning we will see that cloud cover build over the west of Ireland and that’ll herald the arrival of rain into west Munster and Connacht by lunchtime if not a tad before. Dry everywhere else though and that’s the way it stays on Friday with the rain confined to Ireland until the evening when it makes landfall in West Scotland falling as sleet and snow over higher ground as it does so. A little milder on Friday in the west but feeling cooler in the south as that cold air pushes down. The wind though will be lighter than Thursday and through the course of Friday evening is projected to swing round to the west and then the south west heralding a milder start to the week.

So how is the weekend looking at this stage of the week, back to thermals or will those shorts make a re-appearance ?

Well Saturday looks to be a much milder day than Friday with that change in wind direction to south westerly / westerly pushing up temperatures. Of course a south west wind is rarely a dry one and so we can expect rain over Scotland and Ireland overnight, some of it heavy in nature across the west. This rain will push south for the start of Saturday and some areas will receive quite a dollop, in particular I think north west England and North Wales. The rain will also fall as wintry showers across Scotland overnight on Friday. This rain will push south through Saturday with possibly eastern coasts missing the worst but expect some moisture on Saturday along with some sunshine. As intimated a milder day for many though Scotland with those wintry showers will continue the pattern of the week and sit 3-5°C cooler than the south of the U.K. So high single figures for Scotland but low teens possibly for England. Somewhere in-between for Ireland, maybe just creeping up to 11-12°C under that rain. Very windy on Saturday I think with strong to gale force winds in place of for much of the day rattling that rain over. Sunday continues the mild and windy theme with a drier day on the cards for most places with the main rain likely to feature over Connacht and Donegal before pushing eastwards into south west Scotland and across through the day. Sunshine and blustery showers elsewhere I think with a mild, but strong, south westerly airflow. Again temperatures remaining well up there in double figures so you can’t complain.

Weather Outlook

So how are we looking for the next week, continuing mild or in for a change as we move into March ?

Well next week sees a deep low pressure system continuing to affect our weather so initially mild, wet and windy I think on Monday with most of the rain north and west as per usual intially but pushing inland as well down south. Through Tuesday there’s a risk of another low pressure system pushing into the south of England so potentially wetter further south on Tuesday and into Wednesday. Wednesday will be the change day though because the wind will swing round from westerly to northerly and that’ll really drop the temperatures for the first day of March. The second part of the week looks drier but colder with high pressure trying to push in so possily a return to night frosts. I don’t think they’ll last for long though as there’s a whopping low pressure system projected to build after that but that’s a long way off so we’ll see what actually occurs :)

Agronomic Notes

Weather Window

As discussed and predicted last week we have an extended weather window at a time of year when we often have nothing so I was delighted to see some of you last week taking the chance to aerate and  / or topdress, cracking, and proof indeed that turf management and the calendar are a thing of the past. So in some areas, but not all, we see this weather window pushing through into this week…Let’s see how it looks across the regions….

The South of England and Ireland…

gp2

So for the south of the U.K we can see that we have substantial growth this week with a 25 GDD projected for the 7-day period. To give you an idea that’s usually what we get for the entire month of February if it’s mild and 10x what we get in a cold February, so it is unusual.

You can clearly see the effect of the change in wind direction on Thursday and Friday, with temperatures picking up again at the weekend. For the south of England you are predominatly dry (well drier than the west of Ireland particuarly) and so there’s no excuse not to get out there and get some of those spring jobs done early (unless of course you’re snowed under with winter projects that is !)

For me brushing, solid tining, vertidraining and a light topdress will all work wonders this week in making the turf fit for purpose and if you get the chance either a foliar early on in the week before the wind gets up or a granular feed at light rate timed before the rain should give an excellent turf response, especially since we should hold onto the milder air till mid-week, next week.

Ireland is in for a wet week, especially across the west so trying to get in this physical work will be difficult I accept. Fertiliser-wise, it’s granular here that is the only choice if your surfaces need a kick….

It’s all in the N-Source..

An immediately-available N source is key to a good response at this time of year and so ideally we want ammonium sulphate and / or potassium nitrate in the formulation. I often mention these two forms of nitrogen and the reason I do concerns their availability to the grass plant at times like these.

Ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate need no conversion in the soil before they are plant-available and that is key to gaining a quick plant response. Ammonium sulphate – 21% N breaks down in soil moisture (if applied as a granular) to yield positively-charged ammonium ions and negatively charged sulphate ions, whilst potassium nitrate – 13% N breaks down into negatively-charged nitrate ions and positively-charged potassium ions.

Both ammonium and nitrate-N are able to be taken up into the plant without requiring an intermediatary step in the soil and that’s why you see a very fast response.

High N but it’s slow….

Contrast this with urea – 46% N, one of the highest N forms of fertiliser.

Urea requires conversion into the soil by microbial activity and the presence of an enzyme, urease, and this in turn requires temperature, moisture and the correct soil pH to be present. in late winter it is not untypical to have low amounts of urease in the soil and with microbial activity itself being slow we see a delayed plant response to this form of N in the spring if it is soil-applied.

The exception to this is a foliar-appled urea which if air temperatures are warm enough will yield a better response in the spring than a granular one when the soil is still cold.

All applied nitrogen fertiliser will yield ammonium and nitrate ions either as part of a quick process or more slowly, depending on the N form applied and its working mechanism. Anyone who tells you anything different is living in la la land…..

So the take home message is to understand the N forms in the fertiliser you’re using so you can take advantage of the conditions Mother Nature serves up to you…..

The Midlands and Scotland…

GP

If we start with Scotland first, two features are apparent ; the much lower GDD figure (only 40% of the south of England) and the the much higher rainfall level predicted. There will be some growth though this week but in a way it’s kind of good that the level is lower because getting around the site to cut will become increasingly difficult.

The Midlands is also in for a wetter week with Saturday looking the potentially wettest (bugger, bugger, bugger) and they’ll be plenty of growth so it’s a case of taking the chance to do the work before the ground conditions conspire against you (Thursday and Saturday being the potentially wettest). Mosskilling with a high iron granular will work very well this week as the moss will wet up and take the iron in more effectively.

Silver Thread Moss (STM) is another matter though because of its cereal-dish shape underground. Last week I was out taking soil samples and noted some STM on a green. I cut out a section and you can clearly see why it is so difficult to kill because most of it is underground…(the knife marks the bottom edge of the moss)

Silverthreadmoss

On this particular l course the moss was apparent on the back of the green where foot traffic and the pin seldom ventured and it’s a fact that moss doesn’t like wear and tear, so if it’s practically-feasible (and I accept it’s often not in an area that’s pinable, is that a word I wonder ?) put it under some pressure by placing the pin close to it. The combination of this and upping winter nutrition to make the grass plant stronger will often tip the balance away from moss towards good grass growth

Ok that’s it for this week, short and sweet…enjoy today’s milder temperature, close your eyes and pretend it’s May because that’s the time of year we normally get to this sort of temperature figure !

All the best.

Mark Hunt

February 14th

170213_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

After my sabatical to the GIS2017 education conference and show in Orlando, Florida and some welcome warm temperatures and sunshine it was straight back to clouds-to-the-ground, sleet and temperatures barely above zero at Gatwick :(

Quite a shock to the system I can tell you but needs must and all that…..It was a cracking event, some good seminars where I continued my learning and I also gained a snapshot of an industry that’s trying to adapt to their changing climate just like we are. I can’t think of a Superintendent I spoke to that didn’t mention at some point how the weather had become more volatile, more extreme lately and particularly the autumn / winter period.

Canada

It never ceases to amaze me when you fly over to The States just how much snow and ice there is down there over Newfoundland and Canada. This was the first sign of human habitation on the east coast of Canada after hours of flying over ice, snow, mountains and glaciers, I wondered looking down from the plane what kind of life they lead down there, a hard one for sure. (Bet the fishing is good though in the summer..)SpottedGar

Talking of fishing, I did get in a morning’s fishing on Lake Tohopekaliga (trying saying that after a couple of Heinekins) ) with the erstwhile Andy Russell and Dave Mitchell. Up before dawn to try and lure some Large Mouthed Bass which we did successfully though I have to say I was more taken with this Spotted Gar I caught, what a set of gnashers ! Andy R managed to prove the old fishing adage that if you hold any fish close enough to the camera it looks large :)

I digress, onto the weather and some glad tidings are coming our way temperature-wise as we look set to lose that Baltic easterly wind anytime soon :)

General Weather Situation

So for Tuesday we have a mixed start with an overnight frost across the U.K and rain already into the south west of Ireland (and England) but Tuesday is a key change day wind direction-wise because we will see that wind edge round from east to south through the course of the day and that’ll allow the temperatures to begrudgingly nudge upwards. Those milder temperatures are already being felt across the west of Ireland hitting double figures by lunchtime across the west with that accompanying rain moving south and east into Munster and Leinster. For the rest of the U.K it looks like a quiet sort of a day with that wind slowly edging SSE and then finally southerly later on tonight. Quite a bit of cloud about especially associated with that rain front across the south and west but further east and north we will see some lovely winter sunshine or day I say early spring sunshine now that the Snowdrops are up, the Catkins are out and my Hellebores are getting ready to flower ? Temperatures for the U.K should be high single figures maybe just nudging 10°C across Wales and the west coast, but higher across Ireland.

Onto Wednesday and we begin to feel that milder weather coming in with a southerly wind in place pushing cloud and some rain across Ireland on Wednesday morning. A much cloudier start everywhere really so no risk of frost this morning in fact it’ll be quite a mild night. So an unsettled start with rain through the morning across Ireland and this rain will also affect the north west, south west and south coast of England through Wednesday morning though across the eastern coastline of England and Scotland you will have some nice breaks in the cloud and spells of sunshine. By the afternoon though this rain is still over Ireland and moving inland across Wales, England and the west coast of Scotland and by the evening it is across the east side of the country as well as affecting the top 2/3 of Ireland with only South Munster clear. Feeling much milder everywhere with double figure temperatures the norm.

For Thursday we have a rain front across western Scotland and some rain across South Wales and the north west of England.  So a dull day with plenty of cloud cover, some of it thick enough to bring some drizzle across the north and west of the country but many areas will remain dry. That rain over Scotland will slowly move eastwards inland from the west coast pushed along by a strong westerly wind. That wind direction change looks universal so by Thursday we have a moderate to strong westerly wind in situ and that’ll keep the temperatures up around double figures but maybe feeling a little cooler because of that cloud cover.

Finishing off the week, Friday looks to continue that dull theme with rain moving across Ireland overnight pushing into the north west of England, the Isle of Man (thinks that’s my first mention ever of that lovely location) and south west Scotland. Again the east coast may just see some glimpses of sunshine through the morning on Friday but these will be confined to coastal areas I think. By the afternoon that rain is into south west Scotland and pushing north and east, with another front touching the toes of Kerry in time for the afternoon rush hour :) Across central and northern England we should see that cloud cover break up to give us some glimpses of sunshine and these breaks will allow the temperature to come up nicely. Double figures for most areas with I think the west of Ireland up to 13°C or so, which is balmy for February.

Onto the all -important weekend and the key question for me is will I have to wear knitted gloves again to fly fish ? gloves

Well I don’t think so as Saturday looks to be a nice day though it’ll be a bit of a west-north / south divide with the bulk of the hazy sunshine across the latter. There will be some rain around across the north and west of England and across Scotland and this will be accompanied by a thick cloud base so a dull day for Ireland, the north of England and Scotland,  Continuing mild though with temperatures up close to double figures, maybe a tad lower under that thick cloud. Sunday looks a potentially nicer day with less cloud about and consequently more in the way of breaks across Ireland, Wales, the west of England and Scotland. We will continue to have a moderate westerly wind in place and so eventually this will pull more cloud cover off The Irish Sea and The Atlantic and consequently some rain late in the day for north west of Ireland and Scotland me thinks. Remaining mild with slightly higher temperatures on Sunday if you see some breaks in the cloud cover.

Weather Outlook

So will it hold set fair or haven’t we seen the last of winter ?

Well I think we will remain in a predominantly westerly airflow through next week although it may tilt slightly to the north west so that’ll make it a tad cooler mid-week. Windy and unsettled across the west and north I think, milder further south with an increasing chance of that rainfall further south from Thursday next week onwards accompanied by some strong winds. So no risk of overnight frosts I’d say next week and above-average temperatures for late February. It would be great if we move into March with this weather pattern in place and have a sunshine and showers start to the spring as opposed to dry and cool as has been the pattern over the last two springs.

Agronomic Notes

Ok, lot’s to talk about and let’s start off by looking back at January as a month GDD / G.P-wise because it was an odd one.

GDDmonthlycomparisonJantoDec2010to2017image

Straight off you can see it was a cold one with only 12.5 total GDD for the month recorded at The Oxfordshire and I know other locations were even lower, in low single figures actually. It was also colder in the south of England than the north of England and / or Scotland and if we look at Ireland we see again a west / east divide (though both were a lot warmer than England !) The difference was cloud cover and frosts.

Looking at different locations across the U.K we get an interesting picture in terms of growth but also rainfall…

GDDRainfallJan2017UK

So we can see that both western and northern locations had better GDD and higher rainfall and that makes sense because the prevailing rainfall pattern was west and north with the south and east more affected by cold high pressure from the continent. In these locations it was drier but also colder. Another crucial factor was cloud cover and frosts with the south of England having clearer skies during January and so colder nights whereas the west and north had more cloud cover, less frost and more growth potential.

Really happy to have some weather data from Fife, Scotland, I’d like to get some for the west and Central Scotland as well if possible. I know from my early days of travelling on Scottish roads when I looked after Spring Barley and Oat crops, I dealt with farmers from Port Logan near Stranraer right up to 40 miles north of The Black Isle (all in a 4-speed Volvo 340DL which I eventually wrote off out of kindness :) ) and I am acutely aware that the climate is very different in different regions of Scotland, just like it is in England and Ireland.

Speaking of which (flawless switch into Irish weather data :) ), if we look at 4 sites across Ireland we see a pronounced west / east divide in terms of growth potential and rainfall….

GDDRainfallJan2017Ireland

God bless them, Valentia had nearly twice the growth of the east side of Ireland and 10x the growth of Birmingham, but of course the grass isn’t always greener (though likely it is in this case!) because they also had 6x the rainfall of Dublin and 4x Birmingham.

Growth Patterns

You can clearly see the growth patterns as the milder (and wetter) low pressure systems passed across Ireland during January 2017, there are 4 distinct peaks. In Central England there is no such trend as high pressure held sway so the highest growth potential barely broke 0.2.

GPJan2017

Looking ahead…

GPFeb1417

I’ve picked two locations, one in Central England, one in West Ireland and you can see that we have growth predicted for every day now for the next 7 days (and beyond I think) with Ireland milder as expected.

So if ground conditions allow I think this is a good time to take advantage of conditions, do some light brushing to flick out that old, dead growth on all areas really whether it be greens, tees, fairways or sportsfields. You should see some nice responses out there over the next week or so.

Obviously a nice tickle of nutrient to pick surfaces up will work well with I think both foliar and granular fertilisation having a place. When we have warm air temperatures at this time of year you can often gain a nice response from a foliar input of cool-temperature available nutrient sources like ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate, particularly if accompanied by some iron. Granular inputs may be slightly harder as you have to time them with rainfall to gain granule breakdown and there’s more likely to be moisture across the west and north rather than the south and east this week.

For my money picking turf up now (whichever way floats your boat) means you can gain a head start going into March, which after all is only a couple of weeks away. Sometimes growth gained now can bear dividends coming into the traditional aeration period and indirectly you’ll need less inputs then if your turf is healthy and already primed up. It’s also a good time to hit moss with granular iron-based Mosskillers because you can knock the moss back, encourage the grass to out-compete it and be ready to scarify and overseed the following month.

Ok I have a lot more to say but that’ll have to wait to next Monday as Tempus Fugit my friends.

All the best.

Mark Hunt