Monthly Archives: December 2013

December 23rd


Hi All,

Hellebores 002

These guys are already pushing through the soil ready to flower during February..

Well we are past the shortest day, so we’re officially heading to Spring ! 🙂 Ok, we know that traditionally we get the worst part of winter over the next 2 months, but nature is already thinking that way, my Hellbores are pushing their flower buds through the soil, ready for an early start and it won’t be long before Snow Drops follow them.

Speaking of nature, my last surviving Hedgepiglet (the other one died when the mother went into hibernation when she was still weaning:) is still up and about feeding, when last year they were all hibernating a month ago. I’ve managed to get his weight up from 220gms to 450gms now on a special tankmix of Dog Biscuits, Mealworms and Suet Sprinkles, so hopefully when he decides to hibernate, he’ll survive now…

Weather Disaster, Hype, Hype, Must print something crap…..

Onto the weather, I see the Beeb et al have been busy hyping up another weather-related disaster story, courtesy of this low pressure system ‘coming in from The Atlantic’. News indeed when it’s the same low pressure that’s been known about for at least a week already, they just failed to forecast it properly. You can see it clearly on the Unisys graphic in last week’s blog.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have this low pressure that’s been rattling in high winds and rain for the last 5 – 7 days or so, intensifying and pushing very wet weather into south-west Munster from early doors. It’ll quickly move to cover all of Ireland and then into the south-west of England by morning rush hour.  The south-west and west-facing areas will bear the brunt of it, with heavy rain and flooding highly likely. Scotland will also cop it, initially falling as snow over higher ground, but turning to rain thereafter. By lunchtime, all but the east coast of England will be affected. Winds will be strong, similar to Saturday evening in intensity, so no different from what we’ve already been experiencing, but with the heavy rain, it will make driving conditions tricky. Temperatures will remain mild, high single figures, low double figures. It’s always tricky to predict rainfall, but I’d guess 15-20mm for central and southern areas and double that for western areas (I’m including what will fall overnight into Tuesday)

Christmas Eve sees us still in the grip of this low, so heavy rain continuing overnight, pushed along by those strong south-westerly winds will be a feature of the early hours. By the rush hour, the bulk of this rain has passed, however there’s a likelihood of it turning to snow over higher ground in Scotland and northern England. More rain is on the way though, but lighter in intensity as west Munster and Connacht looks likely to receive some Tuesday morning, as does the south-west of England. By early afternoon, the clouds will break and we’ll see some sunshine over The Midlands and central counties of England, but further north in Scotland that rain continues and intensifies for the evening rush hour. With the brighter weather comes cooler temperatures as we head towards Christmas Day, so feeling chiller than of late. That rain lingers on over south-west Munster, Scotland and North Wales, north-west England late into Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day looks like being a bright, chilly affair with a frost likely to start the day and much lighter winds. A dry outlook for most parts except south-west Munster, north Wales and Scotland, where you’re likely to see some showers through the day, wintry in nature as well. Too late I think to win my Paddy Power bets, but it’ll be close for the one on Glasgow 🙂 or 🙁  By the afternoon, a new rain front is projected to push into the south-west of England and move north-east, so if you’re out for a walk and trying to work off that Christmas Turkey, take a brolly ! This rain may fall as wintry showers over higher ground as it moves eastwards. One flake, one bloody flake is all I need to fall on London and I’ll have paid for a good chunk of Christmas !

As we go into St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day for many), that rain front will still be sitting over The Midlands and north-east of England (Humber Estuary) and may be giving some wintry showers in the mix as the temperatures remain cold. Aside from this, elsewhere over the U.K and Ireland, it’ll be dry, but cold, with those winds swinging round to the north-west, heralding the arrival of more rain I’m afraid as we end off Christmas week.

So Friday looks like closing out the week as more or less a carbon-copy of today (Monday) with strong south-westerly winds and heavy rain forecast.  The rain pattern will also be similar i.e into Ireland first and then moving rapidly across The Irish Sea into western parts of the U.K and particularly for Scotland, I think we’ll see more likelihood of flooding for you I’m afraid. Again over higher ground it’ll fall as a mix of rain, sleet and snow. The worst of the rain will push through by early afternoon, but heavy showers will follow it and they’ll linger again in western areas throughout the whole day.

The weekend looks unsettled with blustery wintry showers, rain for most, but over higher ground, it’ll fall as sleet / snow. In between you may catch some fleeting sunshine, but it’ll be fleeting for sure. Winds will be back to the south-west and maybe that’ll give us a drier interlude for Sunday, cool, but dry, but we’ll see. Temperatures will be mid to high single figures at best as it remains cool.

Weather Outlook

As we close out Christmas week and head for The New Year, I expect Monday and Tuesday to be unsettled, cool with those winds still in the south-west, but by New Year’s Eve, they’ll be swinging round to the north and that’ll bring a cold blast of air down, possibly accompanied by wintry showers for many areas depending on how much moisture is associated with the low pressure system. So cooler, cold for sure and drier going into The New Year.  By the end of that week, I think the winds will swing north-west / westerly and that’ll take us milder again for the first full week of 2014.

Agronomic Notes                                   Without Prejudice

AdiZero’s & Frost ?…

Not being a hip & cool kid, (and not playing golf) I’d never heard of these until last week when a course manager mentioned to me the damage that these golf shoes are doing to greens. I then visited another one on Friday who showed me pictures of significant damage to greens, again from the same shoe. With the fact that a lot of clubs don’t have a winter frost policy any more, golfers are playing on frosty surfaces and these shoes look like they build up ice on the raised part of the show where the spike fits into. This then results in block pattern indentations across the green, not from the spike, but from the block into which it mounts. I see there’s a thread on the Golf Monthly forum debating whether these shoes cause damage to greens. I think it’s too early to say for sure, but definitely when walking across frosty surfaces, there appears to be a potential problem.

Feedback either way would be interesting…What are you guys seeing ?


Saw some Leatherjacket damage on a golf green last week even though it had been sprayed recently with an effective kill. The grubs were small, around an inch long and initially I thought they were Bibionids, but closer examination (you were right Colin) showed they were Leatherjackets. (Head recessed, back tips to Spiracles). Just really a ‘heads up’ if you’ve seen pecking, evidence of damage recently and have sprayed….




Right, have to go out and finish the last of my Christmas calls, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a relaxing Christmas break, I hope it doesn’t rain too much where you are 🙂

Mark Hunt





December 16th


Hi All,

So we’re rapidly closing in on the Winter Solstice on the 21st December, a time when the sun appears at its lowest point on the horizon, thereafter it begins its climb back towards the summer.  These days we all know ‘winter’ itself doesn’t really start until January, this year it may just be a few days early.  Difficult to believe though, as I sit here, the weather station has been reading over 13°C for 18 hours and the soil temperature is at 10.2°C, unheard of really for mid-December. Cast your mind back to all those autumn headlines ‘predicting’ our coldest Christmas ever and make a mental note the next time you read one, consign it to the rubbish bin shortly after 🙂

My postie has just walked by the house with shorts on for Christ’s Sake !


Projected Weather Pattern Outlook for Christmas Day

And cue Winter….

As you can see from the graphic above, Winter is on its way though, so we will start to see a gradual drop in temperatures this week, as the high pressure that’s been protecting us slips south and allows colder and extremely windy air to follow it. The main drop won’t happen until after next weekend, but particularly for Scotland, the north of Ireland and Northern Ireland, I think Christmas day may see some really wild weather, with storm force winds and they’ll be chilly ones as well.  Further south, a cold Christmas is on the cards and we may well pick up some snow between Christmas and the New Year, too late for the bulk of my Paddy Power bets for a White Christmas I fear, though I may just come out evens as I had 3/1 on Glasgow 🙂

General Weather Situation

So this week starts as it means to go on with unsettled conditions, rain and wind the order of the day. Currently we have a band of rain moving across Scotland and the North of England (\) and heading south, so rain for most of us, though Ireland should be drier after a wet start to the week. That rain might take till late morning to reach The Midlands and to the evening rush hour to get south / south-east, but it’ll remain here mild today, 13 – 14°C during the day. Winds will be strong / moderate and from the south-west. Scotland will be a little cooler, maybe high single figures only.

Tuesday, sees that band of rain clearing the south-east of England by dawn and for the U.K and Ireland, the driest day of the week for sure, so this one is the spray opportunity because we’ll have lighter winds as well. For Scotland, those winds won’t drop though as you’re closest to the low pressure that’s pushing them in, so another windy day here is on the cards. it’ll feel cooler as well, a taste of things to come.

Wednesday, looks like being an extremely wet day, but not during daylight hours, with some very heavy rain on the cards for Wednesday evening / night. It starts off with rain affecting the west coast of the U.K and in time for the morning rush hour, a new band of rain pushes into West Munster / Connacht. By and large the south and east of the U.K will stay dry during daylight, but at dusk, a very heavy band of rain pushes into western Ireland and quickly moves to cover all of the U.K and Ireland into the night. Difficult to say at present, but maybe 10-12mm is possible 🙁 That rain will be pushed along by gale force winds as well and although they’re from the south / south-west, the source is from ‘up north’, so it’ll feel cool as well, high single figures maybe.

That rain should clear Ireland and most parts of the U.K overnight into Thursday, but for north-west Scotland, there’s a chance it’ll linger and give possible flooding, with snow at higher altitudes. Through the day, they’ll be showers across Ireland and the west of the U.K, pushed along by brisk, cool, south-west winds, but further east and south, it may be a bright day, with periods of sunshine.  By close of play Thursday, those showers will be confined to the north-west of Scotland and may be wintry in nature.

Friday, looks to start off dry for most of us and cool with it, but out west it’ll be milder and that’s because another rain front is pushing in off the Atlantic into West Munster / Connacht / Donegal by the morning and at the same time affecting the north-west of England and Scotland. This rain will be potentially heavy in nature over Ireland and Scotland initially before affecting Wales and the south-west of England into late afternoon / early evening. Overnight into Saturday that rain moves east, to affect all parts during the night and again it’ll be potentially heavy for the south coast coming into Saturday.

I know I said this last week and was wrong, (for you guys in that frost / fog pocket in Surrey and Kent particularly) but I can’t see any likelihood of frost this week till maybe the end of the week and then only for Friday morning potentially as temperatures are due to pick up later on Friday.

At this stage the weekend looks very unsettled with blustery showers / heavier spells of rain for the U.K and Ireland on Saturday, pushed along by that south-west wind. Sunday looks potentially brighter, but cooler in the south of England, with rain never far away, particularly at the back end of the day.

Weather Outlook

The all important Christmas week beckons, so how does it look like shaping up ?

Next week looks like starting off cold and dry in Scotland, but further south it’ll be windier, mildish and with the ever-present threat of rain for Ireland and the south of the U.K. As we wind into Christmas Eve, things will start getting interesting as an intense, cold low pressure system begins to dominate the weather and that means packed isobars, very windy and I think for Scotland, the north of Ireland and Northern Ireland, there’s a strong risk of snow, particularly over higher ground initially, but as we move into Christmas Day, this extends to lower altitudes. Further south, it’ll be very windy and potentially pretty wet as well for Ireland and the U.K, with those showers falling as snow, sleet, rain depending on altitude. As we go to Boxing Day, we’ll still have those strong westerly winds, but because they originate from the Arctic, it’ll feel cool and again there’s a risk of wintry showers, possibly at lower altitudes. As we close out Christmas week, we may get a brief lull before another round of high winds and wintry showers pushes in.

All the above depends on the influence of the low pressure system coming south, however as we’ve all seen, that can easily change and get bumped up and off, so let’s see in a week’s time.

Agronomic Notes

Last weekend and today’s balmy (barmy as well!) weather is all courtesy of a warm peak pushing up from The Azores and when you see from my weather station, that we’re sitting at 13°C plus, it’s unheard of for December. Not just the air temperature, but the soil temperature being right up over 11°C approaching the Winter Solstice. I’ve looked back at my records and the highest I’ve previously seen it was 7°C, back in 2005, amazing….

I’m interested to see if this has resulted in growth as my GDD model predicted, let me please if you get a mo’ ?






So we can expect plenty of disease activity out there due to this combination of moisture and temperature, but hopefully you guys are all protected and safe and sound. If you’re not and you need to spray, then Tuesday for many may be the only day this week, though for Scotland and Ireland, it’ll be trickier because of the wind strength / threat of rain.

Dew Control

I know many of you would normally apply a Dew control this week on the run up to Christmas, but personally I’d skip it because I can’t see any threat of dew during Christmas week and I don’t like applying when there’s very heavy rain on the horizon, particularly to thatchy, poor-draining turf. Keep your powder dry till dew control is an issue.


It’s likely that we will see some hypoxic stress on turf this week / next week because of the weather patterns. Hypoxia means lack of oxygen and characterstically you’ll see it as a yellowing on thatchy turf, poor-draining areas, often those which are out of play and so don’t get the foot traffic. When we have very heavy, localised rainfall that can saturate rootzones very quickly, hypoxia can be an issue, particularly if those areas haven’t been aerated and / or are low in topdressing amounts through the year. The best way to avoid this is inputting oxygen by vertidraining / solid tining / slitting and making a note if you see yellowing of turf, where it’s ocurring, so you can concentrate on those areas in the future, aeration-wise. Talking plant species, hypoxia tends to affect Perennial Poa the worst because of its high shoot density (and so potential to produce thatch, even in a localised area)


Obviously with the combination of wind and rain this week, it’s tricky to get a spray day, but if you are looking to apply a granular fertiliser to areas, then this week is ideal, particularly high-iron products to tees, approaches, etc, where the moss will be nicely wetted prior to application.

Ok that’s it for this week, short and sweet on the agronomic front, but I will do a mini-update in a week’s time, despite the fact that we’re supposed to be off for Christmas 🙂

All the best

Mark Hunt





December 9th


131209_gfs_500p_loop_eurHi All,Dec9thSunseeker3D

Well we’re getting within striking range of Christmas and less than 2 weeks to the Winter Solstice and shortest day. You can see how close we are by this shot from Sunseeker 3D showing the path of today’s sun in yellow and the lowest point (Winter Solstice) in blue….So how is it looking ?, mild and dry (ish) on the whole on the run up to Christmas with only the likelihood of some rain in the north and west making spray days a bit hit and miss, more on that later…Can’t see my Paddy Power bet coming off this year either unless something changes significantly over the next 10 days..

Essentially we’re still in the same weather pattern that we’ve had for the last 3 months now, so that means alternating mild and cool / colder spells, but currently we’re sitting under a warm peak (as predicted) and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon, save for the odd incursion by cooler, wetter weather, as these images from Meteoblue show below…


 General Weather Situation

Monday looks to be a pleasant day for most with light westerly / south-westerly winds pushing temperatures up into double figures in the south of England..For the north-west of Scotland, there’s a band of light rain currently sitting in place, but it’ll fizzle out during the day. The winds will be stronger in the north of England and Scotland and this will be a feature of the coming week. Ireland looks dry and for most the latter end of the day should see some nice spells of sunshine…how pleasant 🙂

Tuesday sees a weak rain front push into Kerry during the morning and flirt with the west coast of Ireland during the day, perhaps reaching parts of east Munster / Leinster by the afternoon. Later in the afternoon this rain will again affect the north-west coast of Scotland. Further south, we have another pleasant day on the cards, with spells of sunshine and light, south-westerly winds again keeping temperatures in the high single / low double figures…not bad for nearly mid-December. I should add that this weather pattern looks to be keeping us frost-free for the entire week and that goes for Scotland as well.

A quick apology by the way for spelling Donegal with 2 ‘n’s, that’s the 2nd Irish county I’ve cocked up the spelling on this year, thanks to Michael for pointing this out to me 🙂

Wednesday may be a little chillier, particularly the start of the day, but we look to be dry and settled across the entire U.K and Ireland, with light southerly / south-westerly winds and perhaps slightly lower temperatures.

Thursday sees a rain front push into western Ireland / North West Scotland for the start of the morning rush hour. Later into the morning, this rain moves eastwards over Scotland and Ireland, clearing the latter, but it is expected to push into west Wales and the north-west of England during the afternoon.  Further south and east, we’ll be dry again, with moderate winds and sunny periods. Temperatures will be high single figures / low double figures.

Friday closes out the week with that rain in the west of Ireland, Scotland and Wales pushing eastwards into the south-west of England initially and by the afternoon, we may all see some light rain further south and east, nothing major though. Winds will be moderate, from the south-west and it’ll feel milder than previous days, with temperatures into double figures again for most.

The weekend looks alright for all of us at present, with that high pressure system keeping the rain away, so bright and sunny on Saturday, maybe a little cooler in the south wind, but nice anyway for all you Christmas Shoppers 🙁 Sunday at this stage looks to be similar, maybe a little more in the way of cloud, but on the whole very pleasant for mid-December. Further north into Scotland, there’s a chance of rain coming in Sunday afternoon and settling there for the evening.

 Weather Outlook

So after what will be for most a pleasant week, how does next week shape up ? Well at the moment it looks like we’ll have a blocking high in place that will keep the winds from the west and temperatures around the high single figure mark, so not as mild as some days this week and with a greater chance of frost later in the week. Rain-wise, the outlook remains dry for most. I think it’ll be a little cooler for the start of the week, but as I’ve said before, I’ll take this weather pattern any day over last year when we couldn’t get on to the golf course because it was so wet !

 Agronomic Notes

Spray Days to apply tonics, fungicides, e.t.c

The first thing to talk about is spray days obviously and for most areas it looks like you can pick your days at present, though for Scotland and the west of Ireland, this will be harder because of the rain forecast throughout the week. For you guys I think next week may be much better in terms of dry and settled with a reduced risk of rain interfering with spraying after the coming weekend. Further south we have better conditions, drier on the whole, with only Thursday looking like being rain-affected, For this reason (and another) I feel that you can apply most days this week.

Conditions for growth and product uptake


Graph shows projected GDD peak this week (in green) and highlights a good spraying opportunity…

As you can see from the graph above, this week will potentially represent positive growth-degree-days for the entire week in some areas of the U.K and Ireland. This means three things from an agronomic perspective ;

Firstly, we’ll have good conditions, by and large, to get applied nutrient / fungicide A.I’s into the grass plant leaf because the mild air temperatures will be conducive to this. The above graph shows predicted temperatures for a golf course along the M4 this week, ok that’s not the same for everyone I know, but we will have positive GDD’s in Scotland and Ireland as well this week.

Secondly, it means we will also have good conditions to achieve a bit of growth, so if you want to pick the greens up before Christmas, grow out some autumn disease scars, e.t.c this week will be an ideal time, but for some, you do have the option of next week as well (south of England), though I think the lower temperatures will mean less uptake and growth potential.

Lastly, I definitely think we’ll see some disease activity this week on unprotected surfaces with these temperatures because with milder nights (it didn’t drop below 8°C here last night) and some moisture around (ok not from rain, but definitely some light dews around), conditions will be conducive for the formation of disease, Fusarium and Red Thread (the latter on Rye particularly).  We saw that at the end of November when we had a short, 3-day peak.

So my advice (for what it’s worth :)) would be this…if you are unprotected going into this week, keep a vigilant eye out, not just on indicator greens, but the drier ones as well. Include on that list, areas that have shown disease activity in the past few weeks, old disease scars and the like. If you start to see disease or want to put down a protective fungicide, then this week’s conditions will be ideal in terms of achieving uptake, but remember if you’re relying on purely systemic activity, it will take 7-10 days for the grass plant to be protected.

Alternatively you may choose to not spray and use turf hardeners and irons to strengthen the plant and protect it against disease, again this week is ideal for this purpose.

If you’re happy with the protection you have in place, then it’s not so much of a priority, you could spray this week or next, depending on where you are in the country and predicted rainfall events.

With a reasonably dry outlook, conditions are ideal for winter aeration, particulary vertidraining and if you get a touch of growth (I can already see this), why not run over the greens /  playing surfaces with a light brush to flick out any old growth and tart the place up a bit 🙂

When you look at the fact that on this day last year, the soil temperature was 4°C, and today I measured 9°C, we will get a bit of growth and recovery this week for sure…

On that note I’ll leave you to get on…all the best..

Mark Hunt






December 5th – Mini Update

Hi Guys & Girls 🙂

Just thought I’d send a quick update to my usual Monday morning diatribe concerning next week’s weather. Well it’s good news, particularly for those guys getting battered today in Scotland and the north. I was just speaking to my Christmas Cheese supplier on Arran and they have no power on the island and no ferries are able to sail, so it must be pretty bad up there.

If you recall from Monday, the weather was looking milder, but potentially wetter for next week, with constant wind, but it’s changing with high pressure potentially re-establishing itself in a similar (but not the same) position as mid-November. (see below)WeatherDec152013

The position is important because as you can see from the improvised graphic, it should pull warm, drier air up from the Mediterranean on a southerly / south-easterly air flow.

So yet again, we see that long-term trends are changeable, long-term with weather forecasting means 10 days, that’s your limit, but accuracy drops sharply after 7 days. I expect temperatures to hold up next week, but then colder air to push in on the run up to Christmas, just a hunch at the moment..

I’m sending this update through because it means you should get a dry week, next week with some good potential spray windows for applying Pre-Christmas turf tonic, fungicide applications if that’s in the plan. It also means it’ll be another good week for winter project work, which again I know is important to some of you.


Photo ‘borrowed’ from Kate, taken by Peter 🙂

Increased air temperature = Increased Disease Pressure

On the flip-side, (and yes isn’t there always a flip side) it does mean that we’ll be seeing some warmer air, particularly for the south and west side of the U.K and Ireland (I think) which means increased disease pressure for sure. I’ve already seen quite a bit of active Fusarium around this week with mycelium along the circumference as this image shows.(developed on the back of milder night temperatures late last week, as correctly predicted by GDD).

So keep an eye out, particularly from Sunday onwards and particularly on older, larger patches of disease which will have a potentially higher population present on the periphery, these can sometimes ‘flare up’ again in such conditions. It may not necessarily be on your ‘indicator greens’ either, watch the drier ones as well….

Ciao for now

Mark Hunt


December 2nd


Hi All,

The first blog of December, time flies as we head to the shortest day and then Christmas of course..So how is that meteorological battle shaping up that I mentioned last week ? Well it’s really interesting and it highlights my thoughts about long-range forecasting and the like. Last week I gave a talk at the GCSAI Educational Conference, held at Croke Park, Dublin. It was a good day, thanks for everyone that stayed to hear my talk and for the feedback 🙂 One of the questions related to my comment that a forecast longer than 10 days had a very high degree of doubt behind it (I think I said it was crap actually…tut tut) and this week’s weather just highlights that.

As I’ve looked at the forecast for the end of this week, it’s gone from -4°C and snowing to +6°C, by the weekend, and anywhere in-between and this is due to the uncertainty whether a peak or trough event would get the nod. So if we have this degree of uncertainty at 7 days, how can anyone give an accurate prognosis on the weather months ahead ? I believe they can’t. My feel is that the cold trough will not exert itself longer than a couple of days maximum and milder, westerly winds will push this onto the continent leaving us mild into December, not cold.

By the way if you’re ever over Dublin way and need something to do before hopping off to the airport, I can recommend the tour at Croke Park, (last but one stop on the Aercoach to Dublin Airport) it’s fascinating, the history behi686810nd the venue, (doesn’t reflect well on the English, but we all should know about it), the venue itself (Particularly now knowing the lengths that Stuart Wilson (Head Groundsman and co-speaker at GCSAI) has to go to, to keep grass on it) and the atmosphere that they re-create for an all-Ireland GAA final, must be immense in real life and now on my things-to-do-list of life ! 🙂

So on to the weather…

General Weather Situation

Monday looks to be a quite day, settled, dry and dull on the main part, save for a slim chance of sunshine on the south and east coasts of England. The wind will be light and changeable in direction, with temperatures peaking at around 7-8°C.

Tuesday follows a similar pattern with a dull, settled day for most of us, light winds and similar temperatures to Monday. Depending on cloud cover, I expect us to just miss a frost as well. Later in the day, a rain front pushes into the north-west of Scotland and drifts slowly south, affecting Donnegal and Connacht by dusk. Winds here will be strong and from the north-west as a cold low passes over the tip of the U.K.

Overnight into Wednesday, this rain band sinks slowly south (/) across Ireland and the north of England, but as it does so, it weakens, so further south Wednesday should be dry, with a chance of seeing the sun and again a frost-free start to the day. Winds will begin to freshen from the north-west and that’ll make it feel a little nippier than earlier in the week.

Thursday is a change day and it’ll be windy to very windy, with the winds pushing in from the west / north-west as a cold low pushes into Scotland early doors and brings wintry showers to the north-west. By mid-morning, the rain is into central Scotland and Donnegal, falling as snow on higher ground, pushed along by very strong winds.  That rain / sleet / snow is projected to reach into North-Wales / Northern England by dusk and it’ll be heavy in places, with localised flooding predicted. It’ll be a cold night for many because of those winds and any remaining moisture will fall as snow across Scotland and Donnegal in particular, with the odd snow shower pushing further south.

Friday is a very cold day with an Arctic blast pushing cold air down on mainly north / north-west winds, though these will be lighter than Thursday’s.  It will be bright and sunny though over much of the U.K and Ireland. This is the weather that was initially projected to stay with us for early December, but I believe it won’t, as milder air pushes in from the north-west / west.

The weekend is looking ok at the moment, save for some rain early doors on Saturday over the north of England and Scotland. Further south it’ll be windy, but much milder feeling than Thursday / Friday as a high pushes warmer air over us. It will be dull though in the main for Saturday, perhaps a chance of some hazy sunshine later in the day.  Sunday looks a little cooler, with those winds dropping away, so a ground frost is expected to start the day.

Weather Outlook

If everything pans out as I think it will, next week we see a transition to westerly / south westerly winds and so milder, but unfortunately wetter. There’s some real humdingers of low pressure systems out in the Atlantic at the moment and this wind flow will bring these over the U.K and Ireland at some point, so I think we’ll start off mild and dry, except for Ireland, next week, where I can see some rain coming in. It’ll remain mild all week, but there’s a strong possibility of rain most of the week, with heavier rain towards the end of next week, pushed along by some strong, south-westerly winds.

 Agronomic Notes

As it’s the start of the month, then growth-degree-days (GDD) is on the menu 🙂

I used these as a discussion topic last week at the GCSAI and when you number crunch weather data using GDD’s, it really highlights differences in the weather. These differences give us quantifiable data, i.e where growth is vs. the same stage last year, how warm it’s been in the autumn, e.t.c, so I’m convinced they’ll be of use to us going forward. Crucially we can also predict over 7 days how GDD’s are going to look and act accordingly, rather than sticking a finger in the wind and hoping… I intend to cover this topic during my talk at Harrogate as part of the educational conference and use some real data from around the U.K to highlight points.

So if anyone from Kent, Scotland, East of England, North-West of England has some weather station data they’d like to furnish me with, that would be very helpful. All I need is daily minimum and maximum air temperatures and maybe rainfall. Drop me an email to please (cheers in advance)

Monthly and Cumulative GDD Totals


You can download these in pdf form here

When you look at the monthly chart for this year, it shows a GDD total of 43.5, which compares well with 2012 and 2010, but look at 2011 when we had a warm, peak jet stream pattern in place. The monthly total figure is 122.5, so that means we had 3 times the growth potential in November 2011, than we had in other years, that’s the beauty of GDD, it makes things definitive. So what you might say ?, well I bet you spent a lot more money on diesel that month than you did in other November’s because there would have been a lot more growth, how did you quantify that when you were reviewing your budget at the time ?….

October / November Summary


You can see the up and down nature of October and early November as we moved from a warm peak to a cold trough and back again. Each time you see high peaks, this will reflect strong growth, but also strong disease activity. As we move into November you can see how growth and disease pressure dropped off by the middle of the month and this is important because I always maintain that it’s the October to mid-November period which is critical in Fusarium control. During this period we have high potential for scarring and it’s here that fungicide applications, type, frequency are key.

End of November Growth Spike

That said you can also see at the end of November we picked up some growth and this is what I predicted would happen last week from forward forecasting data courtesy of Meteoblue. You can definitely see some growth on higher-height of cut areas for sure…This shows how GDD is not just a cumulative or historical tool, it’s also useful for looking ahead. Surprisingly I have had some feedback of increased disease activity associated with just these 3 days of milder temperatures, even though we were dry.

Why is my turf area still so wet ?

A number of you have commented to me how wet everywhere is still, despite the relatively dry month that November was (after that first week of course !). When I crunched the rainfall vs. E.T figures for October and November from Sean at The Oxfordshire, it’s not hard to see why !…The graph below shows daily rainfall and E.T. It’s not the detail that’s important, it’s the fact that the rainfall spikes in October and early November were high (though other areas were much higher I know), but the E.T rates are so low by comparison…


If you look at a cumulative comparison for October and November, you can see that we’ve been running in surplus soil moisture since the beginning of October and that very little change in this has taken place since mid-November, which although it didn’t rain much, it didn’t dry out much either because the daily E.T figures are only 0.2-0.3mm.


Now obviously this is a simplistic model because it assumes all moisture is retained in the soil, rather than being run off through drainage, but the key take home message is we’ve had more rainfall than E.T over the last 2 months and a clear lack of drying days…

Ok that’s it, next week will be the 9th and that puts my forecasting up to the week before Christmas, a critical time to make turf tonic and protective fungicide applications, particularly if we’ve been wet and mild in the meantime..

All the best, wrap up well for Thursday and Friday…

Mark Hunt