Hi All,

For some, we’ve just had a pretty lovely weekend, cool start with frosts, but lovely, bright days. The warming soil and air temperatures were enough to bring my resident hedgehog family (The Snufflepigs I call them) out of hibernation, after going into it on the 28th November, last year, that’s 4 1/2 months and boy are they smaller than when they went in !

Onto a negative I’m afraid, last week, the U.S National Weather Service (in their infinite wisdom) turned off the MRF modelling output for Atlantic weather, so no more easily accessible Unisys long-range forecasting for Europe I’m afraid. Whether this is because 60% of Americans can’t point to Europe on a map, I don’t know. Having learned to interpret Unisys into a next week forecast, this means I’m no longer able to give you guys a ‘heads up’ on when weather patterns are changing on a longer-term (10 day) basis, with the same confidence. A real bummer, like losing a friend for me as I’ve worked with it for over 15 years 🙁 Not to be outdone, I’ve been beavering away at tracking down a solution and above is our first attempt at showing a simulated temperature and rainfall chart over a 10-day period, thanks to Paul for sorting out the animation. I’ll be led by you guys on this,. if you prefer what we used to put up, say so in the comments button alongside my blog and we’ll try and sort something close.

General Weather Forecast

After a lovely weekend here (but a wet one in Ireland I think), we have a couple of good, warm days coming up, but after that it’s downhill I’m afraid as a cooler airstream is taking over, so all change later in the week. Monday sees a rain front pushing into west Connacht and Munster this morning and moving east quickly into the south-west / west of England and Wales, later in the morning before stopping. So rain in the west, but the central and eastern side of the U.K looks to stay dry with hazy sunshine. That rain lingers a little into Tuesday in northern England and northern Scotland, but elsewhere a dull start for the morning, but later on the sun breaks through and pushes the temperatures right up, probably hitting 20°C in the south of England. Winds will be light and from the west, but slowly turning round to the north-west. Into Wednesday and another band of rain pushes into Connacht and Scotland and tracks south-easterly through the morning into northern England and Wales, but at this stage it looks to be fizzling out around about the north Midlands. Further south, another lovely day, warm, with bright sunshine and those high temperatures continue. Overnight into Thursday, that rain reforms in a horizontal band over the north of England, The Midlands and east of England, so a chance of rainfall for the east side of the country. Thursday is the change day, temperature-wise, with cool air, pushed down on a north wind affecting first Scotland, then by late afternoon, Ireland and England and by close of play, all of the U.K and Ireland will be sitting in this cold air trough, so chilly it will be. Ireland looks to have a rain front stretching diagonally (/) from south-west Munster across to north Leinster and this will slowly sink south through Thursday, weakening as it does so. As we move into Friday, that wind freshens and swings round to the north-east, so temperatures will take a hike down to high single figures and overnight that rain will push south into The Midlands, Wales and the south-west, maybe getting down to the south-east, but by this stage, it’ll be light. Ireland sees a mix of cold, blustery showers, with maybe sleet and snow falling on higher ground, interspersed with sunshine and that’ll also be the weather mix for the U.K. Again temperatures will be low, high single figures and winds from the north-east. Now things start getting tricky for me as usually I’d be switching to my Unisys MRF model for the weekend and beyond, but as explained earlier, this has gone belly up, so here goes.

As we move into Saturday, the outlook is for a cold start, with a chance of rain / sleet in the far south-east early doors. Those northerly winds are still present, but as we move through the day, the wind direction is projected to change and swing round to the west by the end of the day, raising the temperature and signalling the arrival of a low pressure system over Northern Ireland. This pushes rain down into Ireland, Scotland and Wales overnight, but at this stage, elsewhere it’ll stay dry and noticeably milder for Sunday.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to start off with another wind change as those west winds lighten and swing round to the north by close of play, pushing rain down from Scotland to all areas for Tuesday, with heavier rain potentially over south-east / south coast of England, pushing up from the continent overnight into Tuesday. By mid-week that unsettled picture stays with us, so showers and milder temperatures, with heavier rain potentially for Ireland, Wednesday / Thursday, but by the close of next week, a high pressure is set to form and if this does so it could mean a warm / very warm May Bank Holiday. Now before you go off booking your B&B, digging out the boogy boards, sun screen and bucket and spade, I stress I’m using a new forecasting model and it’ll take me a while to interpret its output accurately (that’s assuming it’s accurate as well!), so bear with me here please.

Agronomic Notes

With the 2 cold nights at the weekend and ground frost for many places, soil temperatures have taken a dive from the double figures of last week and I’m guessing that’s knocked a lot of colour out of greens, particularly high Poa annua content ones. For a lot of areas in the central and east regions, it’s also pretty dry, with below average rainfall for April (and March), so Poa is going to be looking a bit pale and showing stress, whilst bentgrass will be healthy. The warmer conditions coming for Monday through till Thursday will turn this around somewhat, but only if rainfall or irrigation is forthcoming, because that is what’s limiting Poa growth at the moment in the areas I detailed above.

I saw my first seedheads last week on Poa annua var. annua (the annual biotype of Poa annua) and that’s probably two weeks later than normal, however if we do end up getting a warm start to early May, then I think that will bring on Poa seedheads in earnest, so the 1st / 2nd week of May looks odds on at the moment for timing cultural methods. As promised we’ll publish monthly GDD data (Growth Degree Days) so we can see how this works as a predictive model for Poa seedhead development.

Very low disease pressure at the moment as you’d expect, but still lots of Leatherjacket, Bibionid and Chafer activity, with the corresponding damage from Corvids, Badgers, etc. A number of you are reporting high populations of visible grub kill after applications of Chlorpyrifos.

Last week was also the first week I noticed visible weed growth / flowering with Daisies and Dandelions the most visible. It’s going to be good conditions for selective herbicide uptake for the first part of the week (warm & dry), but thereafter, it’ll get a bit tricky. Daisies in my opinion are tricky weeds to eradicate with their comprehensive root systems, so your product / adjuvant choice is key to getting good results. If you do manage to get an application on this week, should the hot weather arrive for early May, that’ll knock them back significantly. Last year at this time we were getting cool days and rainfall, so application timings and getting good knock-back were both difficult to achieve. (Many weeds re-grew after the initial herbicide application and survived)

Enjoy the warmth, but wrap up well at the end of the week !

Mark Hunt