Category Archives: Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog

January 15th

Hi All,

I’m pretty sure today is ‘Blue Monday’, claimed to be the most depressing day of the year but also a cracking track by New Order, a real toe tapper if ever I heard one….Looking out it’s still pitch dark, the rain is coming down steadily and for sure it’s a gloomy one but I can think of worse days than this.  As predicted we are entering a trough pattern in the jet stream that is pulling in a big, deep, cold and narly low pressure and that’s going to return us to winter this week particularly this coming weekend. Don’t worry though I don’t think it’ll last…..(famous last words eh..)

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts with a rain front sitting across East Anglia / South of England and another one moving across Wales, The South West and the north of England. We also have some more showery weather across Ireland and Scotland to start the week so yes a little bit grim like. Through the morning the rain will move eastwards across the U.K and Ireland and we will start to see the presence of colder air over Scotland as those rain showers will turn increasingly to snow over higher elevations. Now it’ll feel mild today, particularly in the south and west with a westerly wind pushing mild air across Ireland, central and southern regions but across Scotland that very strong westerly wind will have a raw edge to it. Going through to the afternoon we see a continuation of that wet weather perhaps with a clear spell across the spine of England but the wintry showers will spread south across The Borders and into northern England as we go into the evening. A mild, windy day then with plenty of rain but ‘enjoy’ those temperatures which may hit double figures down south and across Ireland because we are in for some raw weather later in the week / weekend.

Overnight into Tuesday we see a continuation of that wet weather across western and central Scotland, north west England, north west Ireland and North Wales. Those showers will increasingly have a wintry feel to them. Further south and east it’ll be a clear start to the day but we’ll see plenty of wintry showers pushing across Ireland, Wales and possibly pushing into The Midlands later in the morning. A much cooler feel to the weather with that strong, westerly wind in situ and temperatures a good 4-5°C lower than Monday making it feel raw with a capital ‘R’. So the bulk of the wintry showers likely across Ireland, Scotland, the north west and central parts of northern England, Wales and The South West with central and eastern areas of England and north eastern Scotland missing the worst I think. With a strong westerly wind in place though there’s always a chance for showers to move inland I think. Much colder as mentioned earlier with 3-5°C the norm in that strong, cold, westerly wind.

Wednesday sees us start clear across Scotland and the north of England as the bulk of the showers have sunk south overnight into The Midlands, Wales and southern England. Ireland will still see plenty of wintry showers across The Midlands and north of the country extending into Northern Ireland. Through the morning we will see more wintry showers move into western Scotland, north west England, mid and North Wales. South and east of this, it’ll be a much brighter day, clear skies with plenty of sun but it’ll feel raw. Through the second part of Wednesday we will see those westerly winds turn milder across Ireland pushing temperatures into double figures through Wednesday night. This milder air will push eastwards to push temperatures up through Wednesday night into Thursday across most of the U.K. That mild air will be associated with rain which will move into Ireland from the west after dusk and quickly move eastwards across the country, across The Irish Sea and into Wales overnight pushed along by gale force westerly winds which could cause damage.

Thursday sees that rain move across the U.K early doors to leave a clearing picture by dawn except for a band of wintry showers down the spine of England extending up from the north Midlands to The Borders. They’ll still be some scattered wintry showers across the north and east of Ireland on elevated ground and across North Wales. Through the morning we will see rain move into the west of Ireland and the west coast of the U.K extending up from The South West all the way to north west Scotland. Again we will see a mix of rain, sleet and snow depending on elevation. That mild air passes with the rain so once you’ve seen this move through early on Thursday we will see the temperature drop through the day with clearing skies, hence the reason for the wintry showers. Come Thursday evening that rain over Ireland will turn increasingly wintry and although the south and east will be clear, we will see a continuation of wintry showers across the higher ground of Wales, the north west of England and western Scotland. Temperature-wise after a mild start (overnight) expect to see 5-7°C as the norm and winds will be moderate to gale force in the early hours and late into Thursday night.

Closing out the week we have a dynamic weather picture with strong westerly winds pulling round to the north west through Friday and that’ll knock the temperatures down even further with a pronounced windchill. A similar picture on Friday as we have seen for most of the week, that is Ireland, the west coast of Scotland, The North West, Wales and The South West feature as the areas most affected by a combination of wintry showers throughout the day. Further south and east I think we will be sunny and dry but very cold with a pronounced windchill. These wintry showers will affect the above areas most of the day on and off and later on another batch moves into north east Scotland and drifts down the east coast of the U.K. Real Brass Monkeys weather on Friday even where you are dry with nearly a negative windchill for most of the day…wrap up well and make sure you take a neck warmer / buff with you, invaluable I find, here’s my favourite one 🙂

Ok so how are we looking for the weekend knowing that some of us will be en route to Harrogate ?

Well Saturday looks fine really after clearing skies across the vast % of the U.K and Ireland on Friday night will likely give us a ground frost first thing. The outlook for Saturday looks dry, cold and bright with a really cold north westerly wind in situ, feeling milder across the west as a warmer air front pushes in. Late on Saturday night we see a return of rain, sleet and snow to the south west of Ireland but everywhere elese I think will have a dry, cold night with another frost. Sunday again looks a pretty dry day. cold in central and northern areas, slightly milder across Ireland and the west. There’s a slight risk of rain across The South West early on Sunday but this should clear through the morning if it actually reaches you. So another pleasant day, cold but crucially dry so no problem getting too and around Harrogate me thinks.

Weather Outlook

So after another blast of winter how are we looking for BTME week ?

Well first off I think we should be fine for snow and ice because from Monday we pick up a south westerly air stream courtesy of a new low pressure system that will come in to play next week. So I think a little milder next week, remaining pretty windy and some pronounced pulses of rain which will push in from the south west and move up country. Monday, Wednesday and the end of the week from Thursday onwards look to be some of the wettest periods of weather but as mentioned above, this moisture will be south west-orientated rather than north west so you guys will get a bit of a break from heavy rain (not saying it won’t rain it’s just you won’t be in the direct firing line as you are this week). I think we will be mid, high-single figures so better than this week and we will be windy for sure.

Agronomic Notes

BTME, Harrogate Weather Link

Ok first off please find the link for Headland Weathercheck for BTME, Harrogate here

Netatmo Weather Station Review and PWS’s

Now I know I promised this feature before Christmas but I’ve been doing some additional work on linking the weather station into the Weather Underground network because I found the Netatmo backend software system pretty unreliable. The weather station itself has worked faultlessly since last August, but I want to find a more user friendly way of looking at the data, particularly historically.

Linking your Personal Weather Station (PWS) to a weather network is a pretty recent development and it’s fair to say that it’s still a work in progress however the advantages are that you are able to view your current and historical data in a comprehensive manner and this allows transposing of data into GDD / G.P calculations a much easier job. Last week I found some new software that works with the Netamo weather station specifically and seems to provide a much more reliable link. Here’s my data so far so you can see what’s available (note I don’t have a wind gauge currently because I have nowhere to mount it and I’m not going up a ladder for awhile)

So you can see (hopefully) you get a tabulated summary view of your data showing minimum and maximum air temperature (which we need for GDD and G.P calculations) and you get daily rainfall totals as well alongside humidity, pressure and if I had it, wind speed. You simply enter the air temperature data into our GDD / G.P spreadsheet and the GDD and G.P readings are calculated automatically. (Note the spreadsheet is available here)

Going forward I think we will be become more reliant on this type of data to make accurate application decisions particularly those related to pesticides like PGR’s and fungicides. Working from the calendar will I think become less and less reliable…

Using Weather Slots..

Talking of not working from the calendar I think this time of year can be perfect for gaining a head start into spring from a plant nutrition pespective. Now granted we don’t have much in the way of GDD’s or G.P’s but we do have some and taking advantage of them through January and February could reap benefits when we come into spring time proper getting you ahead of the game.

If we take a look at our Meteoturf module on Headland Weathercheck for the coming week we will probably see something like this if you are in Ireland, Wales and England (but not Scotland I’ll grant you)

So you can see Monday, Thursday and next Monday show a small amount of growth whether it’s described by GDD or G.P. What’s important about this type of growth at this time of year is that with daylight levels being low (because days are shorter), the grass plant is less likely to be able to flush and produce soft growth. In turn we know that whilst leaf shoot growth kicks off from 6°C air temperature upwards, but we also know the grass plant is developing roots really anywhere up from freezing (how many times have you put a turf down in the middle of winter to see new white roots emerging even though it hasn’t put on any top growth ?). So I think we are more likely to see good root development and more lateral rather than upright growth during the early part of the year as a result of applied nutrition.

We know also that these short windows of growth during January and February are almost a permanent feature of our weather now and that March, but in particular April can be quite problematic in terms of generating consistent growth.

I mention April because for 7 years out of the last 10, it has been a very difficult month for grass growth, often it is dry, often with warm days but cold nights, so the actual growth potential is limited. Dovetail that in with high moisture loss through high Evapotranspiration (E.T) and you could almost discount it as a consistent growth month. Here’s the rainfall vs. E.T stats for April 2017 at our Thame, Oxfordshire location…

You can see what I mean in terms of lack of moisture presenting an issue from a growth perspective. It isn’t just moisture that can be growth-limiting in April, we also have a nasty habit of picking up late frosts with the same location recording 7 frosts during April 2017 and 4 of them in the last week of the month.

If we look at the pattern of growth as denoted by G.P last spring at the same location you can see quite clearly peaks of active growth in January and February…

If we look at the G.P totals for the month, they make interesting reading ;

Month                         Total G.P recorded – Location – The Oxfordshire, Thame – 2017

January                              1.89

February                            5.33

March                               10.79

April                                   9.34

So we can see January and February combined generated 67% of the growth of March and 77% of the growth of April. If I also tell you that the last two weeks of February produced the same amount of growth (from a G.P perspective) as the last two weeks of April, you can hopefully see the value of using early season windows.

So taking advantage of the growth on offer in January and February should perhaps be one of our adapatative strategies to our changing climate from a plant nutrition perspective. It’s not necessarily a case of extra nutrition either because if the greens come into the spring with better grass cover, there’s less of a need to apply as much nutrition come March or (God help us) April…

Type of nutrition – Granular or Liquid ?

I tend to think that granular nutrition is more effective for this period of the year than liquid because we tend to have higher rainfall levels early on in the year so applying a liquid may be problematic (getting to and onto the greens with a heavy sprayer for example) vs. a pedestrian spreader and your lightest crew member (ahahaha). Granular nutrition (of the right type) is also usually more leach resistant ~(than a liquid) and so provides more of a longer-term benefit to the grass plant with one early in the year application often carrying through to March no problem.


You can also kill two birds with one stone at this time of year by using a granular formulation high in iron and in so doing knocking back the ever-present moss populations visible in many swards. I was out walking yesterday across the fields of Leicestershire and I couldn’t help but note how much moss was visible on pasture land, even though some of it was recently drained. Without a doubt the low light and higher rainfall conditions of November through to the end of February firmly tip the growth balance in favour of this species.

Disease Activity

I got quite a few reports of Microdochium nivale on the move last week despite the fact that the air temperatures were nothing to shout about really. If you look at my Netatmo weather station stats at the very beginning of this section of the blog, you can see that the humidity sat at 100% for pretty much all of last week due to the absence of any drying wind and that I think was one of the main drivers. Hopefully with the colder conditions of this week it shouldn’t develop much though it’s worth keeping an eye on it when we have these short, mild spells…

Ok that’s it for this week.

All the best

Mark Hunt


January 10th

Hi All,

A belated Happy New Year to you all and my apologies for the delayed start to the year with this blog, unavoidable I’m afraid.

After a pretty interesting Christmas period we now start the reasonably short plod to spring with the evenings beginning to stretch out just a little every day (or is it my imagination I wonder..) and gathering real pace as we close out January.

Here in The Midlands of England, we got clattered with some pretty heavy snow and ice storms between Christmas and The New Year and whilst they made getting about tricky, the winter scenes were beautiful. Sadly the snow didn’t come in time to save my Paddy Power bets (missed by less than half a day in some locations but c’est le vie 🙁 ) for a White Christmas so I am now down on my luck with the score standing at Paddy Power 5 MH 2. Proof indeed that gambling doesn’t pay….:)

General Weather Situation

By the time you read this it’ll be Wednesday so I’ll start my forecast there and thus lessen my workload.

So Wednesday sees a band of rain that crossed Ireland late on Tuesday move eastwards across the western coastline of the U.K and inland, weakening as it does so.  By dawn this rain will be in a vertical band straddling an area from London right up the central spine of the U.K and may be falling as wintry showers across central and eastern areas of Scotland. As we progress through the morning this band of rain will slowly move north and eastwards towards the east coast of the U.K. For Ireland, they’ll be some breaks in the cloud for Connacht possibly, but that’s about it in terms of seeing the sun with some rain pushing into Kerry and Cork from the off, slowly moving northwards. The wind will shift around to the west for the U.K and away from the east and that’ll lift temperatures at night and during the day, nothing great like, but maybe we will hit a heady 8°C across the south of England. Now I know that doesn’t sound great shakes but because we’ve been cold for a good while now, any slight lift in the air temperature is I think more noticeable. Through Wednesday afternoon we may see a rain front push into The South West of England but it should be pretty short-lived before it moves out into The Bristol Channel. By dusk we should have a pretty much dry picture everywhere, cloudy though, as has been the norm now for awhile.

Overnight into Thursday we keep a large part of that cloud cover, possibly clearing though across the west of Ireland leading to a sunny, but cold start to the day. It should be a frost-free one for most because of the inherent cloud cover but it’ll be close if you go into Thursday clear overnight. It will feel cooler on Thursday due to another flip in the wind direction, this time to northerly but it will bring the bonus of pushing that cloud cover away, clearing from the north first. By lunchtime there’s a good chance the top half of the  U.K and most of Ireland will be feeling those nice sunny rays (but without much in the way of heat mind) before central and southern England clears during the afternoon. Clear skies mean a colder night on Thursday and likely I think to see a touch of frost in places.

Closing out a short week meteorologically and Friday sees that cloud building again overnight for most areas of the U.K and Ireland, with perhaps The North East and eastern Scotland seeing a sunny start. That cloud will thicken over Ireland ahead of a pretty consolidated rain front which will move into the west around lunchtime bringing heavy rain to south west Ireland. For the U.K we look to be dry and dull I’m afraid with maybe some breaks in the cloud across the north west initially. During late Friday afternoon that band of heavy rain moves east across country reaching The South West of England and West Wales just after midnight. Wind-wise we start off with a north westerly, cool wind on Friday but switch round during the middle of the day to a south easterly. A cool day for the U.K with temperatures barely hitting mid-single figures (if that), milder over Ireland under that rain and strong, southerly airstream.

That rain front is slow to move and by Saturday morning it won’t have cleared Ireland completely sitting over the eastern side of the country and stretching across The Irish Sea into Wales and The South West where it’ll be butting up against a cold front and so may easily fall as sleet and snow, especially over elevation. It’s a bit of a guessing game quite how far inland it’ll reach across England but with a cold, south easterly wind there’s a change of some wintry showers inland across North Wales, Scotland, the north west / east of England and possibly extending into the West Midlands. A raw sort of day with a prevailing south easterly wind pushing cloud in from The North Sea, so dull with it as well. For Sunday we that rain front push west again across into eastern Ireland, Wales and The South West before fizzling out during Sunday morning. Dull as dull can be I’m afraid on Sunday with some wintry showers persisting across central Scotland. Later on Sunday afternoon we see another band of heavy rain push into the west of Ireland and move eastwards bringing rain to the western side of the U.K overnight into Monday. Temperature-wise nothing to shout about on Sunday with 3-5°C across England and slightly higher across Ireland where the wind will take on a south / south westerly direction.

Weather Outlook

So after a pretty drab and unsettled week how are we looking next week ?

Well the projections is for another deep, low pressure system to push in from the North Atlantic and that’ll bring strong, south westerly winds to all areas overnight into Monday quickly turning north westerly. This is a pretty deep low and if the projections are right it’ll sink south through the course of next week forming a pronounced trough in the jet stream (see below image from Unisys for the end of next week)

You’ll note that the low pressure has pushed the winds round to the north west so that’ll be another feature of next week, cool, strong winds pushing rain and possibly wintry showers in from the north west through the week starting with a dollop of rain for us all on Monday. I think the depth of the low will mean it is categorised as a storm system and if so this one with be called Fionn (F-yunn) and yes the ‘f’ will be particularly appropriate :). Later on in the week it may be that we see more in the way of sunshine between those blustery wintry showers but that’s about all the positive spin I can put on it at present.

Agromonic Notes

Since it’s my first blog of 2018 it seems pertinent to look back at 2017 and see how the year shaped up for us all.

First off we have the GDD stats from our normal Thame, Oxfordshire location….

So we can see that December 2017 went down in the weather logs as a cool month, cooler than 2016 and pretty typical as December’s go over the last 8 years of recording. The two anomalies being the extremely cold December of 2010 and the very mild, wet December of 2015.

From a cumulative GDD perspective, 2017 checked out as the warmest year we have recorded since we started in 2010 coming in nearly 13% warmer than 2016 and close to 6% warmer than the previous record holder, 2014.

Now 13% warmer from a GDD perspective may not sound earth-shattering but if that relates directly to grass growth, that’s a lot more grass growth generated than any previous year and as we know from last autumn and disease management, it isn’t just grass that responds to warmer air temperatures…

Total GDD – U.K & Ireland 2017


So there we have it, 6 different geographical locations across the U.K and a close on 35% difference between a Scottish location and one just south of London. Fife would be a reasonably mild Scottish location in my books and further north and east in Scotland, I’d expect the differential to be closer to 50%. Many years ago when I was a mere slip of a lad I worked in agriculture and called on farmers in the Midlands of England right up to north of The Black Isle in Scotland. During my time many English farmers sold up a small farm in England and brought a large farm in Scotland. I remember talking to them about their sillage yields and how much lower they were in Scotland compared to Central England. If I’d known about GDD then I could have shown them why….

For Ireland we see the difference between the mildest location (Valentia) and the coolest, Claremorris (in beautiful Co. Mayo though before the slagging starts) is around 25% from a GDD perspective, quite significant when you take into account that the distance between the two is only 138 miles as The Crow flies….There’s a similar difference of 20% in total GDD between Claremorris in the west and Killiney in the east.

A diary of a year in GDD….UK – Location Thame

To do this meaningfully I decided to split the year up into the seasons we manage from a grass perspective so that’s January – May  / June – August /  September – December and I’ve picked a location from the U.K and one from Ireland as well.

So first up we can see that spring actually started with a very mild 2nd half of February that really kicked off on the 20th of the month with 15°C air temperature. That’s only 5 weeks away if it repeated again in 2018 (the power of positive thinking 🙂 ). When you look at the comparison with 2016, you can see how poor a spring it was back then with barely more GDD in April 2016 than we recorded in February 2017.

March continued motoring forward in 2017 , hitting mid-teens through most of the month and peaking with 20°C on the 30th, you can only dream about those sort of temps at the moment. On paper April looked to continue the warm trend but GDD doesn’t tell the whole story because April 2017 was a really dry month and at this location we only recorded 6mm of rain all month. When you take into account that the total moisture loss by E.T was 69.8mm, then the moisture deficit was 63.8mm. That means a drying surface and drought stress way back in April. Throw in 5 frosts right up until the end of the month and we can see that April 2017 continued the pattern of this month being one of the hardest months of the year to achieve consistent growth. Food for thought if you are planning aeration this spring. Seedheads were earlier in 2017 and at one stage looked set for a flush in early April but the dry weather held that back, once the rain arrived tin late April, they were off.

May 2016 I remember as being a grass factory of a month with growth going from zero to flat out in three days (and seedheads likewise) and this pattern was repeated again in May 2017 and then some, with another 22% more GDD and air temperatures > 25°C in the last week of the month triggering early Anthracnose spore germination.

Onto summer and a scorcher of a June with some really high temperatures in the third week of the month with 4 consecutive days of air temperature > 30°C. I remember at the time that the local temperatures in London were much higher and that the baseline temperature at Wimbledon exceeded 40°C during this period, not fun for ryegrass that.

The high temperatures continued into July with air temperature > 30°C recorded at the end of the first week and temperatures continuing in the high twenties through the first half of the month. It was dry too with barely a mm of rainfall over the same period, in short, a stressy period of weather. All change in the second part of July with a fortnight of continuous rain rounding a month roughly similar to 2016, GDD-wise.

August we can see shows a significant reduction in GDD in 2017 vs. 2016 with a 14% decrease year-on-year. Anyone that took a summer holiday in the U.K in August 2017 will probably remember it wasn’t a warm month and in fact we recorded 9 nights when the temperature dropped into single figures culminating with a near grass frost on the last day of the month. Plenty of rain as well in August pushed humidities up to the max and made an early start to the Microdochium nivale season, not to mention Anthracnose and Dollar Spot 🙁

The story of the autumn at this location was definitely October 2017 with nearly double the GDD of October 2016 (which was uncommonly cool actually). The high daily GDD caused not only high growth rates / clipping yield but also severely aggressive Microdochium nivale activity. With constant cutting and new growth emerging on an accelerated basis, the longevity of fungicide applications was significantly reduced with systemic applications lasting 7-10 days less than the year before, typically 14-17 days was your lot.  November 2017 continued a high GDD compared to the previous year with significant, short-lived peaks of mild day and night temperature. This tended to encourage re-activity around existing scars rather than new infection. December 2017 rounded off the year cooler than the previous year with the first proper December snowfall since 2010. Again numbers can be deceptive because even though the month was cool, we still had two periods of Microdochium nivale activity, the last of which ran right up to Christmas Day and did result in new infection on some sites, mainly because of periods of snow cover I think. So 2017 finished off 13% higher from a GDD perspective than 2016 for this location.

A full schematic of the autumn last year showing the periods of recorded Microdochium nivale activity is shown below for the same location…

A diary of a year in GDD….Ireland – Location – Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford

The picture in Co. Wexford was slightly different with a milder and wetter January than its English counterpart and strikingly similar to the previous January from a GDD perspective. February 2017 showed itself to be much milder than the previous year with mild air temperatures feeding through from The Atlantic in the 3rd week of the month to get growth off to an early start. March 2017 showed a similar pattern to the U.K location, with a much milder month and a 3x higher GDD than the previous year. Rather than high day time air temperatures, the month was characterised by many days of low to mid-teens maximum temperature and consistent rainfall, in other words, a pretty good growing month.

April 2017 in Wexford was a mild but dry month with 17mm of rain across the whole month and a GDD figure 2x the previous year. Most of the high GDD days were in the first two weeks of the month however when it was dry and towards the end of the month growth dropped off a cliff as we picked up some night frosts. (in common with the U.K location). So for Ireland as well as England, April proved a tricky month to produce consistent growth / recovery.

May 2017 turned that around with good day and night temperatures but growth didn’t really get going until the rain arrived mid-month. The 25th of May was the first day that the air temperature exceeded 20°C, nearly 7 weeks later than the Thame location in the U.K.

Once again GDD doesn’t tell the whole story of a similar level of growth in June 2017 compared to 2016. June 2017 was an extremely wet month for Ireland and at this location, 125mm of rain was recorded for the month with 30mm falling on just one day (5th June). The 2nd and 3rd weeks of June showed good air temperatures and with a saturated soil, growth bordered on being out of control for a while.  July 2017 continued a positive Irish weather story for the summer with a warmer July than the previous year with plenty of consistently warm days and half the rainfall of the previous month. Like the U.K, if July was above-average, August was anything but, with no days when the air temperature exceeded 20°C and 4 single-digit nights. Throw in 75mm across the month and you have a recipe for soggy sand castles and scenes of Craggy Ireland 🙂 In common with the U.K location it also meant an early start to the Microdochium season.

A very different story in Ireland during the autumn with a practically identical October 2017 vs. the previous year from a GDD-perspective, however September showed the same pattern as the U.K with a cooler, more humid month and like there, this continued Microdochium nivale activity that had started in August. We also saw more Dollar Spot in Ireland during August and September (in particular), a disease that was practically unheard of there 10 years ago. Prolonged leaf wetness and high humidity are the key drivers for this disease.  October 2017 didn’t log the same record high GDD as the U.K location coming in 30% lower but a period mid-month when night temperatures ran in the consistent low to mid-teens resulted in extremely aggressive Microdochim nivale activity that was hard to control. November continued the pattern displayed in the U.K as a warmer month than the previous year from a GDD perspective with 3 distinct, short-lived disease peaks caused by high day and night time temperatures and high humidity. Again we tended to see re-infection around existing scars rather than new infection sites. Finally December 2017 came in cooler than the previous year but again in common with the U.K location, it also saw peaks of disease activity, the longest running through to Christmas Day, a wholely unwelcome Christmas pressie. Comparing total GDD 2017 vs. 2016 showed that this location came in 4.5% higher, so a similar pattern to the U.K, but not as high a difference.

This is I think to be expected because Ireland picks up more Atlantic weather systems than a Central England location and doesn’t tend to pick up the full benefit of continental high pressure systems in the summer nor the full extent of the cold from Scandinavia and Russia during the winter.

So there we have it, a look at two locations through 2017 from a GDD perspective, I hope you found it interesting and maybe it struck some chords with your own experiences ?

All the best for 2018

Mark Hunt


December 20th

Hi All,

Sorry for the delay in posting this week’s blog, unavoidable family matters I’m afraid.

Hereby marks my last blog of another interesting year in our industry.

As a number of you will know I do a lot of talks (maybe too many eh?) and although I’m sure it seems a recurring theme to some, our climate and the effects of current legislation stand out to me as the two biggest challenges to our profession. Of course communication, budgets and recognition of the job in hand aren’t far behind either. Going forward we will continue to see the impact of product withdrawals and our ever-changing-climate on turf management and yes they present a challenge, but one I feel we can meet with a reasonable degree of confidence. Continuing my optimistic tone…

As we can see from this dusk shot using Sunseeker Pro, today’s arc of the sun shown in yellow and that of the shortest day (obscured but in light blue) are practically indistinguishable so that means shortly the sun will begin rising higher in the horizon as we look forward to spring. I know you don’t really notice until the end of January / February, but to me it’s more a mental yardstick than anything else 🙂

My other yardstick is when the screen on my TomTom turns from daylight to night time display, currently it’s around 15.40 p.m and still getting earlier but that’ll change soon. When you spend a good proportion of your life on the M40 / M25 / A14, you get plenty of time to notice these things you know because let’s face it, you’re not going anywhere fast 🙂

So how are looking weather-wise on the run up to Christmas and beyond ? Will I be basking in the accumulated financial glory of fleecing Paddy Power on my White Christmas bets or will the boot be on the other foot ? (again)

General Weather Situation

So we finish Tuesday and start Wednesday with high pressure (unusually) feeding mild air into the north and west of the U.K / Ireland. Scotland and Ireland have already felt the effect of the change in temperature with the west of Ireland and north of Scotland up in the mid-teens today, whereas some of us sat in freezing fog and barely mid-single figure digits on the temperature dial. That mild air continues its march south and east through the night so Tuesday night will be the first for many days when we are pretty much frost-free I think.

Wednesday sees a band of light rain push into the north west of Ireland overnight and move south east, fizzling out as it does so by dawn it’ll be mainly thick cloud and drizzle. So a cloudy day beckons on Wednesday for us all with perhaps some light rain moving across Ireland during the afternoon and into North Wales, but for most it’ll be dull, dry and feeling much milder. It never fails to surprise me when you have a long spell of cold weather how suddenly 7°C feels positively tropical as your body has acclimatised itself to the cold. So not a bad day all in all, maybe a glimpse of the sun here and there, more so across the east coast of the U.K I think, but dry and feeling much milder with a light to moderate, westerly wind in situ.

Mild overnight into Thursday sees us start the day close to double figures across most of the U.K and Ireland, quite a change from the -2’s and -3’s of late. It’ll be role reversal for Scotland though as colder air makes an appearance on Thursday so a bright, chilly day here. Further south and west we will a horizontal band of showers moving across the west and Midlands (of Ireland), Wales, the north of England and The Midlands (of England) pushing into East Anglia by lunchtime. In-between these showers they’ll be some bright spells of sunshine as well. Feeling nice and mild as well with double figure temperatures (just). Through the day that cold air across Scotland will sink south so a cooler night for sure on Thursday. I think we’ll see a frost for Scotland and the north of England but The Midlands south should be frost-free.

Closing out the week we see heavy rain move into the west of Ireland late on Thursday night and this will then cross Ireland overnight so a dull and damp start to Friday here. For the U.K it’ll be a dry start, bright across the east and central areas and feeling much cooler after the milder temperatures of mid-week. There’s a chance of mist and fog early I think because winds will be light and from the west. As we progress through the day we will see a band of cloud push into the west coast of England, Scotland and Wales and move eastwards. So milder across Ireland, Wales and The South West under that cloud, but cooler across the north and east where it’ll be bright but chilly.

Onto Christmas Saturday and then Christmas Eve on Sunday….

Well Saturday doesn’t look half bad really with strengthening south west / westerly winds.  Wind it seems will be a feature of the Christmas week this year in more ways than the usual one ( “I think I will pass on the Brussells and Red Cabbage thanks Mum” :P) Mild temperatures into double figures with quite a bit of sunshine as well for central and southern regions, so if like me you’re doing the last (first) of your Christmas shopping, it won’t be a bad day to do it on. (Actually I’ll be running or MTB’ing because I’m not going to waste the day tramping around the shops). It won’t be great everywhere because across Scotland and the north of England, you can expect it to be duller and with more than a drop of rain as well I’m afraid despite it feeling milder than Friday. Dull with thick cloud across Ireland as well, thick enough for some light rain on and off through the day, but remaining mild here as well with temperatures pushing up towards the low teens. Through the day we will see the wind strengthening from the west. As we approach dusk we will see a band of heavier rain push into the north west of Scotland move south overnight into Donegal, Connacht and the north west of England.

So Christmas Eve looks like being an extremely wet one for some with that band of rain stretching horizontally from Shannon across Northern Ireland into north west England / Scotland. Across Ireland, Wales and England it’ll be a good bit windier with strong westerly winds in situ. Westerly winds usually means mild and that’s the way it looks for Christmas Eve with temperatures up into the low teens for most of us except areas affected by that rain where it’ll only be mid to high single figures. As we progress through the day and towards one of my mum’s truly legendary Danish Christmas Eve dinners (whereupon I will commence the annual battle with my brother over my fair share of the crackling) , we will see that rain push across Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the north and south west of England. Further south and east it’ll stay dry for the remainder of the day and mild. By the evening that rain will have intensified across Ireland (west and central particularly), Scotland, the north west of England and North Wales.

Christmas Day looks cooler, blustery and wet across the west and north with some of those showers drifting south and east through the day. Feeling cooler as we go through the day but not cool enough I fear for any of the white stuff though it’ll be close up north….bah humbug Paddy Power, missed it by a week…So the second half of Christmas Day looks very windy and pretty wet, so if you’re up for a quick trot before calorific Armageddon, I’d get out early.

Christmas to New Year…

Well the theme for Christmas week as intimated above is extremely windy and I’m afraid pretty wet as well with rain pushing across the U.K and Ireland through Boxing Day. This rain may fall as wintry showers across the higher elevations of Scotland and that windy and wet theme will continue through the week perhaps relenting a bit on Thursday with a change in wind direction to the north west. It won’t last for long though because by Friday we will locked back into a windy and wet, westerly theme. Sorry if it is not the news you wanted Santa to bring you for the Christmas week but I can only tell you what I thinks coming, I can’t change it….

Agronomic Notes

2018 GDD / G.P Spreadsheet

First off if you’re looking to record your temperature and rainfall data in 2018, Paul has updated the GDD / G.P spreadsheet and you can download it here

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Paul for reliably creating the Unisys GIF every week that you see at the start of my blog even when he was away on hols. Cheers matey. Thanks also to Wendy for converting weather stats into our monthly GDD spreadsheet and to Aine for supplying data for Ireland. All much appreciated by me.

Ta very much

I’d also like to say thanks to everyone that contributes their monthly weather stats from the U.K and Ireland. It really helps me to build a picture of what is going on out there from a weather and agronomic perspective and hopefully you see the value in the use of the data and graphs that I generate on this blog.

It began 4 years ago in trying to understand how far behind we were growth-wise in spring 2013 vs. the previous year using GDD as a measurement and it’s grown from there.

Quite some journey and we aren’t finished yet.

Looking forward I think we will be using either GDD or G.P data rather than days, weeks or months , more and more to make management decisions and in so doing have more of an understanding where we are from a product working efficacy and longevity perspective. None more so than with systemic fungicides me thinks…

A quick look back at the autumn…

I thought it would be interesting to compare the last four months of 2017 with the same for 2016. I had to estimate the G.P from forecasted data for the last days of this month as time travel still eludes me….

The two graphs below show the daily Growth Potential from September to year end for 2016 and 2017 and I’ve circled periods which were associated with Microdochium nivale activity. The difference in terms of number of peak periods and the severity is I think clear to see, particularly in October year-on-year.

It is also interesting that the peaks in November and December occurred over very similar date ranges in 2017 and 2016.

In terms of total G.P, the total amount of growth as measured by Growth Potential from September to the end of December in 2017 was 52.84 vs. 46.34 in 2016, that’s a 14% increase. Looking closer you can see October was the game changing month this year, far far warmer than the same month last year  (an eye-opening 74% !) for this location and that’s what drove growth of both disease populations and grass itself. So if you spent more money on diesel in October this year, you can easily justify why…..

So yes disease has been more severe this year and we have had a period of extended snow cover to boot recently, mighty unusual for the U.K and Ireland and the first I think since 2010 ?

Dry greens with less disease-favourable microclimates are getting more disease later into the year….

I’ve been noticing this for awhile now but if I had a pound for every course manager / superintendent that has said to me that they sometimes see more disease on their drier greens (or drier areas of greens) than they do on their typical microclimate greens, I’d be a rich chappy and ready to retire. (no comments please)

I’m pretty sure I know the reason why but I want to present some science and data to reinforce the above observation and that needs a little time yet. It’s certainly not an argument though for winter irrigation and giving up on aeration just yet 🙂 You tend to see a similar trend when we come out of winter and get the first spring flush in terms of where disease occurs and where it doesn’t.

Next autumn we won’t have Iprodione….

We now know that for autumn 2018 and beyond we will be without the contact curative fungicide, Iprodione, with a use-up-date of the beginning of June 2018.

The official CRD notice of withdrawal is available here

Of course this is old news to a certain extent but confirmation of the use-up-date means that we will enter next years period of peak disease activity without this A.I and as I have commented in previous blogs, that’s a game changer. That said I know plenty of end-users who have come through this autumn with little scarring and have not used Iprodione so it’s not the end of the world either.

To me change is an opportunity as well as a challenge……

Spray Windows

It’s getting pretty late in the day but Wednesday and Thursday represent pretty good spray windows in some areas with good upward-trending temperatures for uptake and light wind levels. I know we have rain coming in but it isn’t everywhere and if you need to go, you need to go…Those upward trending temperatures may also trigger some more activity around existing scars for a short period leading up to Christmas Day.


Ok that’s it for me for 2017….thanks to everyone for their contributions, feedback and comments.

May I wish you a relaxing Christmas break and all the best for the coming year…

Mark Hunt

December 11th

Hi All,

I think the above image graphically illustrates how we all feel at this time of year running around in circles trying to get everything done for Christmas 🙂

Never been a fan of it myself but I do love winter. Waking up yesterday to a Whiteout and hearing the park behind me come alive with the sound of laughter, families building snowmen, sledging and having snowball fights, for me it’s what a proper winter is all about. Families at war and trudging round retail parks or the internet to buy something that will be discounted the day after you deliver it isn’t my cup of tea. I’d rather go fishing and indeed in my younger, more rebellious days, that’s exactly what I did 🙂

Enough of the Bah Humbug…….well winter arrived properly for The Midlands overnight Saturday with widespread snowfall that continued on and off through Sunday. Looking at the news I see that it wasn’t a universal whiteout and others further south simply got rain and cold temperatures. With cloud cover we barely touched freezing last night so I expect a good thaw today before more of a frost later tonight.

I looked back at my past blogs and the last time we recorded December snowfall in The Midlands was 2010 when we had our harshest winter conditions for a long time.

The weather situation isn’t quite the same though when you compare 2010 with 2017, although both events were caused when the jet stream dipped south and cold air formed into a trough pattern (see above). The difference is that in 2010, the cold air came from the east and in 2017 the cold air is coming from the north west / west and that means in my books that the latter is likely to change back to a milder airflow whereas in 2010 it didn’t. My PaddyPower White Christmas bets look less secure for this reason 🙁

So how are we looking for the week ahead ?

General Weather Situation

Well Monday sees a sneaky Bay of Biscay low pressure impacting on the south of England and this is bringing a mix of snow, sleet and rain as I type this. This frontal system will push east along the south coast through the morning and afternoon but may affect the south east of England pretty much all day so a wet and cold one for you lot today. Tricky to predict whether this will be snow, sleet or rain, I plump for the wetter stuff though. The north west of Scotland and Central Highlands is likely to pick up snow showers on and off through today. North and south of this snowfall / wintry showers, we will have a quiet, settled day with the sun breaking through across The Midlands as the cloud cover thins. Further north you’ll already be seeing the sunshine over northern England after a keen frost, whilst over Wales and Ireland, save for a few wintry showers over Donegal and the Wicklow Mountains I think, this week will start cold and bright with some patchy cloud. Temperatures varying between 1-4°C depending on if you see the sun and winds light to moderate and from the north so feeling raw.

Onto Tuesday and another quiet day but with clear skies the day before it’s much more likely to start with a frost if you escaped one on Monday morning. Tuesday sees a change in the wind direction across Ireland, swinging round to the south west which will usher in slightly milder conditions and the inevitiable rain as well, reaching the west of Ireland around lunchtime Tuesday before pushing east across country. This rain front will butt up against the cold air mass over the U.K and fall as snow over western Scotland from lunchtime I think before turning to rain, sleet at lower altitudes as the air warms up a little. For Wales and England a quiet, bright, settled day after a hard overnight frost and dry with no winter showers likely except for the north west of England as that rain front crosses The Irish Sea late on Tuesday night and encounters cooler air. Winds will be moderate and from the west so feeling ever-so-slightly milder with temperatures likely to hit mid-single figures in the sunshine (gosh golly)

Mid-week and Wednesday sees that rain front push across the U.K overnight falling as snow again over The Scottish Highlands. By morning rush hour we will see alot of rain across the southern half of the country and again The South East may be in the firing line. Ireland will start mainly dry with just some vestiges of that rain and possibly wintry showers over the Wicklow Mountains first thing before it moves off into The Irish Sea. It won’t be long though before more rain pushes in from The Atlantic, but mainly affecting The Midlands northwards across Ireland. As we progress through the afternoon, that rain will clear in the south and we will just see more persistent rain, sleet and snow across the northern half of Ireland, Scotland and the north west of England. Still cold enough to fall as snow across The Pennines I think. Temperature-wise, it’ll vary from 4°C in that wintry rain to a mind-numbing 8°C across the south of England in moderate to strong westerly winds.

Onto Thursday and less than a week away from the shortest day 🙂 (ah the optimist in me makes a brief appearance). So overnight we see another significant rain front push in from the west across Ireland and by dawn it is affecting most of the U.K, with perhaps just the Central Highlands north remaining dry. Ireland will also start wet across most of the country. This rain will still fall as sleet and possibly snow on the higher elevations of Wales and England. Through the morning this rain will push eastwards to leave a swath across the northern spine of England and another across The South East before pushing off into The Channel and North Sea respectively. Ireland will see most of the rain clear the east through the morning, but the west will hang onto rain through the day I am afraid. By Thursday evening the only remaining moisture will be across The South West of England, south west Munster and north east Scotland (where it’ll likely fall as snow). Similar temperatures to earlier in the week, so 4-5°C will be the norm in a moderate to strong westerly wind veering north westerly later.

Rounding out the week on Friday and we see a subtle change in wind direction from westerly to north westerly and that’ll shave a few precious degrees off the temperature I think. So Friday sees a mixture of rain, sleet and snow across Wales, the north west of England, the west of Scotland and central regions of Scotland as well. Through the morning this will drift south and possibly fizzle out as it does so to leave most of the U.K, bright and cold. The same for Ireland I think, bright and cold. The exception (and there’s always one when it comes to weather :)) will be Central Wales and the north east of Scotland which will see wintry showers through the course of the day. As we approach dusk, a front of rain and wintry showers is projected to push into eastern England, East Anglia and settle down for the evening before drifting south across London and The South East. A raw day with the wind pushing round to the north later. Clearing skies and a northerly wind point the way to a frost on Friday night / Saturday morning for many areas.

Looking to the weekend and the weary pilgrimage to the local shops / retail park for many, how do things look ?

Well Saturday looks the potentially better day of the weekend with cold, bright conditions but essentially dry for most areas after a hard nights frost. Cloudier across the west and north initially but I think the sun will break through for most areas on Saturday. Ireland though could pick up some heavy rain for the 2nd half of Saturday and this will push eastwards into Wales and England overnight I think. Sunday is tricky to call as we have another Bay of Biscay low sneaking along the south coast of England on Sunday and this could bring more in the way of unsettled conditions and rain for Sunday to the south of England. Either way I think Sunday is potentially a wetter day for many places with more cloud cover so if you want a decent winters walk, get out of bed early on Saturday whilst the frost is still hard in the ground and then you won’t end up walking with most of the field on your boots 🙂

Weather Outlook

With Unisys capped at a 10-day outlook and very little accuracy beyond that anyway, I can’t sit here and let you know how Christmas week is shaping up, that’ll have to wait till next week’s blog. That said I have a feeling that we will lose our trough pattern and that Christmas week will end up being mild, windy and wet, time will tell….

Monday next week still sees us in the trough pattern and potentially with rain / wintry showers moving along the south of England, depending on where the low ends up going. Elsewhere I think we will be quiet, dry and potentially frosty as we start next week with low to moderate northerly winds in situ. As we progress through Tuesday, these winds swing around to the west and usher in slightly milder weather and more in the way of rain for Ireland and the west of the U.K. This rain will I think push inland on Wednesday before a quieter day on Thursday for all of us. By Friday we see a very strong, Atlantic low pressure system in-bound and that will see us switch to a strong westerly airflow with milder temperatures, more rainfall and definitely very windy by the end of next week / weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Pre-Christmas Tipples…Spray Windows…

At this stage of December we start to look at applying a pre-Christmas tonic to keep us nice and tidy over the all-important Christmas to New Year period.

Looking at the above Meteoturf for the coming week, (this one is from a Kent location) it presents very little opportunity to get an application in because it’ll either be cold and frosty or slightly milder and raining / sleet, plus the wind looks like being tricky as well. I think the start of next week may be slightly better in terms of application conditions before we pick up the strong westerly airflow (if we do that is..)

Not all is lost this week though because I think for the south of England, Wales, The South West and Ireland, Thursday and Friday may present a spray opportunity but elsewhere I think we are limited because of higher moisture incidence, strong winds, cooler temperatures and therefore more likelihood of overnight frost.

Disease Activity

New activity on old scars 07/12/17

Last week saw some mild conditions (briefly) and these were consistent enough to initiate disease activity around the edges of existing scars, as shown above…

Looking at the data from my own little nifty Netatmo weather station (which I’ll be reviewing next week) reveals why….

You can clearly (hopefully) see from the graph above that the air temperature started increasing around 2.00 a.m. crossing the all important 10°C barrier at that time and then extending through to 10.00 a.m. before dropping off sharply as the wind direction changed.

Likewise the humidity was always above 90% but showed an upward trend from around the same time, peaking at 100% at 7.30 a.m and remaining at 100% for the next 3hrs.

So we can see that a fungal pathogen like Microdochium nivale had around 8 hours of consecutively, favourable climatic conditions in which to grow and that’s why some of you may have seen new activity around the periphery of an existing scar (because the population is highest here and so the disease is starting from an elevated level).

On the flipside, I think it is also clear that these conditions were not conducive to new infection of a grass leaf and that’s probably because of the duration of favourable climatic conditions, the maximum air temperature being too low or more likely, a combination of both of these.

Looking ahead I can’t see this combination of climatic conditions being repeated anytime soon so for me disease activity is likely to be low. (not that everyone agrees with that though disease modelling-wise)

Ok short and sweet this week, work beckons so next week I’ll be giving that all-important Christmas forecast prediction and identifying potential spray windows in the week up to Christmas.

All the best and stay safe if your area is tricky to get around….

Mark Hunt






December 4th

Hi All,

Just back from a beautiful fly fishing break in Mexico, a cracking country to visit, rich in wildlife and lovely weather as well.

It was quite an amazing experience wading across the salt flats targetting Bonefish in such beautiful surroundings. At one stage I had a 5ft Barracuda sitting 10ft to my left, a Stingray in front of me and a Black Tip Shark swimming on my right, all of them no threat at all.

Mind you one evening I took a walk along the local beach and waded in to my knees to cool down and escape the ankle-nipping mozzies, only to glance behind and spot a ‘v’ pattern cutting the surface a few feet away, heading in my direction. I was promptly joined by a big Black Tip Shark that ambled up so close to me that I could touch it before it went about its business, amazing.

Chatting to my guides during the week they explained to me that their weather down on the Yucatan Peninsular has changed over the last 10 years with less reliable rainfall and more hurricanes at times of year when they didn’t use to appear.

In short their seasons are changing as well.

Whilst I was away sunning myself, I gather you picked up a pretty cold snap with some snowfall as well. Thanks to Craig for this picture from a bleak looking Ramside, Co. Durham. Quite a contrast, speaking of which I think we will experience one later this week when we change from a mild, south westerly airflow to a raw northerly one late on Thursday with more risk of snow again for the weekend for some I think.

General Weather Situation

So we kick off Monday with a pretty pleasant start to the week really, mild temperatures than of late, possibly pushing into double figures down south and dry as well on the whole apart from some risk of light rain over north west Scotland. Winds will be light to moderate and from the north west and they’ll be some light cloud cover and sunny intervals.

Tuesday sees pretty much a repeat of this weather situation with no risk of overnight frost and again a dry start to the day for most of the U.K and Ireland. The exception will be the north west of Scotland where rain will push in during the late afternoon and then cross country into more central areas of Scotland later on Tuesday evening. Down south and across the west we will be dry, with hazy sunshine and light to moderate westerly winds pushing temperatures close to double figures, normal for the time of year.

Overnight into Wednesday we see a rain front push into the west of Ireland crossing over into Leinster in time for the morning rush hour. By mid-morning this rain will be into the west of Scotland, north west England and then Wales by lunchtime and thereafter it’ll slowly move inland but principally the rain will affect the west side of the U.K on Wednesday, consolidating into heavier rain as we approach dusk. Overnight this rain will push inland clearing Scotland and Ireland as it does so to affect central and southern regions of the U.K as well through Wednesday night / Thursday morning. Milder still across Ireland and the west with low double figure / early teen temperatures in a strong south westerly wind. Milder temperatures compared to Tuesday for the U.K I think, maybe just pushing into the low double figures.

Overnight into Thursday we see the beginning of that change I referred to earlier, starting in Scotland with the wind swinging round to the north west to bring a raw feel to the day, much lower temperatures and the risk of snow showers.  Further south that overnight rain will still be with us so a wet start to Thursday for many and it may take till lunchtime for that rain to move away from the south and east of the U.K. Ireland should have a much drier day on Thursday but a raw one as temperatures drop in that keen, north westerly wind. So a cold, bright day here with lots of sunshine but an increasing risk of wintry showers as we approach dusk. A west / east split on Thursday with wintry showers likely to affect western coasts through the day, but further south and east, it’ll be sunny and dry once the rain has departed. The south will hang onto that mild air the longest, so a mild one across Central England with double figure temperatures likely, a marked contrast to Scotland which will barely make mid-single figures.

Closing out the week on Friday and overnight that cold air has spread its grip across all of the U.K with snow showers likely across Scotland, western coasts of England, Wales and The South West. A wintry feel across The Irish Sea as well with snow showers affecting western and north western coasts of Ireland overnight into Friday and that risk remaining through the day. A really bitter day on Friday up north with temperatures lucky to break into the very low single figures and feeling much colder in that biting wind. Further south we will be dry, dull and cold with a prominent north westerly wind in situ. Through the day that risk of wintry showers remains across Ireland, Scotland, the north west of England, Wales and possibly The Midlands as well, punctuated by some sunshine. A raw day for us all.

So with that change in the weather at the end of the week, how are we looking for the coming weekend ?

Well for most of us it looks like being a very cold, bright, sunny winter weekend with lots of sunshine but with a strong north westerly wind producing a real wind chill and pegging temperatures back on Saturday and Sunday to low single figures. They’ll be a risk of snow showers as well, more so along the western coast of Scotland, England and Wales, with some pushing down to lower levels on Sunday and more inland as well.

Weather Outlook

So more like traditional winter weather for the start of December, but will the cold snap continue I wonder ?

So next week looks to start quiet and frosty with a settled feel to Monday as that cold low pressure system moves off to the east. It doesn’t last though as we have a new Atlantic low set to push in and change the wind direction to the west and bring rain as well. Initially to the north and west on Tuesday but this will push further south and east on Wednesday to affect all areas accompanied by some very strong westerly winds.  So an unsettled week with strong winds and a slightly milder feel through mid-week before those winds switch to a more northerly aspect again and bring colder air down and so a heightened risk of wintry showers as we approach the end of next week.

Agronomic Notes

With this being the first blog of December we can look back at November and ascertain what kind of a month it was and more importantly how it compared to October.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – Thame Location

So first off we can see that November 2017 came in with a total months GDD figure of 67.5 which places it about average year-on-year and markedly higher than 2016.

Year-to-date we are comfortably up on any previous year so will definitely mark 2017 as the warmest year-to-date from a GDD perspective.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – UK Locations

Looking at the GDD / Rainfall data for 2017 we can see a pretty consistent picture in terms of temperature / growth for the different locations.

The contrast between Troon on the west coast of Scotland and Swansea on the south coast of Wales is striking in terms of total GDD with Troon at 41.6 and Swansea at 95.7, basically twice as much temperature in the Welsh location compared to the Scottish location.

Rainfall is again light for a winter month (as it was in October) in some locations with The Midlands and the south of England coming in driest at 37.5mm and 32.1mm for Northampton and Guilford respectively. I appreciate the north west and south west of England won’t be sharing my sentiments but I haven’t seen the rivers and reservoirs around here as low since winter 1975, the year before the drought of 1976.

If we don’t get significant rain here over the next 3 months then we will definitely be facing a drought order come the spring of 2018 and if you remember the last time this happened the golf industry wasn’t treated well at all.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – Irish Locations

For the Irish locations we see significant variability between locations in terms of total GDD for the month, with Dublin suprisingly coming in as the lowest GDD locationfor the month. (can’t think of that ever happening before?). Looking at the statistics from the Dublin location I can see very few dry days and so it looks to me like you had a cool, dull, wet month in November. Contrast this with Bray where they had nearly 50% more GDD and 36% of the rainfall of the Dublin location and you can see why being near the coast pays dividends sometimes. The west and south west of Ireland definitely picked up the milder weather in November with Valentia, Wexford and Cork the three highest GDD monthly totals. For Co. Mayo it wasn’t a great one, with low GDD and high rainfall, not nice for you chaps.

October – November 2017 Comparison – Growth and Disease Activity

Above is a graph showing the daily Growth Potential during October and November and straight away you can see the difference between the high daily totals during October and the much lower totals in November.

I believe that Microdochium nivale requires a minimum temperature for a set period to infect turf and furthermore I think that we typically hit this set of conditions during August, September and October. Once we reach November and temperatures drop away we no longer hit this minimum temperature for long enough to cause new infection of fine turf. (November 2015 was the exception to this though)

What we do see however is new activity around existing scars because it is in this area where we have established a high population earlier in the autumn and so it doesn’t need sustained temperature to increase the population level.

Below is a schematic of a disease scar where the original infection started in October 2016 and we then saw 3 successive periods after this when new activity around the original infection site occurred and the disease scar grew outwards as a result.

These periods of activity occurred in December 2016, February 2017 and March 2017.

This year we again saw disease scarring in October 2017 and new activity around existing scars in November 2017. What I don’t believe we have seen is new infection in November 2017 unless you guys and girls care to tell me different 🙂

The problem we face is that once we have an established disease scar the only real fungicides that stopped this becoming active again are either no longer available (Prochloraz / Tebuconazole combination) or shortly to become no longer available (Iprodione) and this is why it is going to be so important come autumn 2018 to have our ducks in a row with respect to disease prevention.

Ok that’s all for this week, onto a very long things-to-do-list with a fair dose of jet lag to boot 🙁

All the best….

Mark Hunt