January 30th

Hi All,

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

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

General Weather Situation

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

Outlook

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

Agronomic Notes

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

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

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

Mark Hunt

 

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