As my mini-update suggested on Friday, we have a change in the weather on the way with the arrival of a warm, high pressure, it’s certainly been a long time coming. When I was fishing yesterday, the owner of Thornton reservoir, (a colourful Welsh character called Ifor), showed me a picture of the woods surrounding the lake taken on the same day last year…all the trees were in full leaf, whereas now they’re barely through..I reckon nature is running 3-4 weeks behind because of the lack of temperature and just as importantly, lack of light levels in April and May to date. We sometimes forget that plants utilise light for energy and during prolonged cloudy conditions, their photosynthetic efficiency suffers. Last year, Ireland and Scotland had extremely low levels of sunshine during the growing season and this affected plant growth significantly, with crops like Maize only reaching half of the height as usual. Grass, I think is a very efficient photosynthesiser and adapts quickly to its conditions (particularly Perennial Poa.) so the effects aren’t as noticeable.
We have high pressure asserting itself from the earlier part of this week and that’s going to bring warm, dry conditions for the week, with plenty of sunshine. The question in my mind is whether this heralds the end of the ‘trough’ pattern of weather that we’ve been in since early April or not ?, are we now shifting into a ‘peak’ pattern, which as we know from last year, brings warm, settled conditions and very little rainfall. This is particularly relevant to those currently affected by irrigation bans. We know that the rainfall of the last 6 weeks has seriously benefited ground water and particularly reservoir levels, below is the trend for Bewl Water in Kent, one of the driest areas of the country up until the end of March and you can see it has gone from 40% of capacity to 76% of capacity in 6 weeks.
My feeling is that this change in weather is not the precursor for a prolonged period of dry weather, though the trough pattern looks to have shifted away for the moment. The long-term jet stream pattern looks normal for next week with a more southerly feel to the weather on the cards. (sunshine and showers maybe)
General Weather Situation
Onto the weather, from today we have low cloud cover affecting most of the U.K, blown off The North Sea, courtesy of a cool, north-east wind and a weak band of rain affecting the west coast of Leinster and Connacht, but as the day progresses, this cloud will thin and the sun will break through, raising temperatures from their current low teens to close to 20°C in a short space of time. Tuesday starts with low cloud over the U.K and Ireland, but this will soon burn off in the U.K (but linger in Ireland) to give a beautiful warm, dry, sunny day (remember them ?) with temperatures in their low 20’s and a light easterly wind. The pattern is repeated on Wednesday, but this time the cloud clears over Ireland, so they join in the sun 🙂 . Thursday sees a similar pattern, but with a weak band of rain affecting south/mid-Wales and the north of England, Scotland, mainly on the west coast. Friday is more of the same, but this time there’s likely to be a greater risk of rain, with a band of rain affecting a diagonal line across Munster and South Connacht, there’s also the risk of some rain for Wales, The Midlands and the south of England in the afternoon, with possible thunder and lightning. For the weekend, the temperature drops a little as the high moves away, but it’ll still be pleasant on Saturday and Sunday.
The beginning of next week looks a little unsettled with some rain from the continent likely to affect Southern England early on in the week and some more general rain for the end of the week likely. It’ll still feel pleasantly warm with temperatures in the high teens I think, but with more cloud cover as an Atlantic low pushes cloud in. I think winds will be light and from a more southerly direction than of late.
This section of agronomic notes is largely orientated towards clubs affected by the irrigation restrictions, if this isn’t you, my apologies, but it may be beneficial at some point in the future.
Firstly, I don’t feel there’s a need to panic because although we have a warm week in store, ground water levels are good and I think the end of this week / next week may bring some rain to keep things ticking over.
In the meantime I’d definitely be applying a PGR early this week to slow growth down and in doing so increase water-use efficiency by the plant. This isn’t a sales gimmick for the cynics amongst you, the research is clear since 2007/8 on the benefits of using Trinexapac-ethyl to increase drought tolerance. Here’s a link to one piece of work by the highly-respected scientist Bingru Huang, have a read if you’re interested.