Hi All,

Took this pic using the Sunseeker 3D app whilst out walking yesterday across Leicestershire and it shows how close we are now to the Winter Solstice.


The yellow line is the arc of the sun on the day (14th Dec) and the blue is the arc of the sun on Sunday 21st December, the Winter Solstice, and this marks the date when the sun is at its lowest on the horizon. So this coming Sunday is our shortest day and thereafter we start the slow journey back to spring, mindful that January and February usually encompass the worst of the winter weather.

Looking ahead to Christmas, it appears that Paddy Power will be keeping my bet this year (again !,  that’s 3-2 to them) as the outlook suggests a mild, westerly, windy Christmas Day 🙁 Bah humbug is all I can say to that…

On the subject of bah humbug, I note all the talk last week was of a ‘Weather Bomb’. Clearly someone in the Met Office had had too much plonk at the Christmas party and decided to add to the already crap media slant that is put on our weather by dramatising it even more. So what was a low pressure system with packed isobars (meaning windy), suddenly became this portent of doom, the ‘Weather Bomb’, ho hum….

So what does the weather have in store on the run up to Christmas ?

General Weather Situation

So starting off Christmas week we have a pretty settled and dry picture for a Monday morning, with some showers flirting with the south west of England, the north west of England, Scotland and north west Munster. Through the day these will fizzle out in all areas except North West Scotland where they’ll intensify to give general rain over The Highlands and across to the east coast as well. Temperatures will be mid-single figures with a light westerly wind.

Moving onto Tuesday, the start of the day looks frost-free, dry and sunny for central and eastern parts of the U.K, with more cloud cover over Ireland and the west of the U.K. By late morning though a heavy rain front is set to move into the west of Ireland and push in a vertical band across the country during the early afternoon, so a pretty wet day is forecast here. By the evening rush hour this will make landfall along the entire west coastline of the U.K and push inland. It looks to be particularly heavy over Donegal, the north west of Scotland, the Lakes and North Wales. By midnight that rain front will cover most of the U.K and give a very wet second part of the night for many. Temperatures will be similar to Monday, but the wind will be noticeably stronger, blowing hard from the west and will be thus for the rest of the week it looks like.

By Wednesday that heavy rain is off into The North Sea, but they’ll still be outbreaks of showers, some blustery and heavy over the south west of Ireland and the England initially, however the good news is that these will soon die out to give a dry morning with some hazy sunshine over central and eastern parts of the U.K. Not for long I’m afraid though because a new rain front is set to push into the west of Ireland from The Atlantic by mid-afternoon and move rapidly across country. By early evening this will be into Wales and central England, but looks to stay mainly south of the Scottish border during the night, with central and southern regions liable to cop some more overnight rain again I’m afraid. It will feel much milder on Wednesday, up into double figures, possibly low teens in the south of England, balmy like, but typical now for a winter low pressure system from The Atlantic. The wind will remain westerly and the milder day temperatures will hold all the way through Wednesday night.

For the morning rush hour on Thursday that rain is mainly confined to the western coastline of the U.K, but unfortunately Ireland will still be getting a packet of the stuff, spread over most of the country. Through the morning that rain moves westerly into the west coast of the U.K, Scotland in the firing line as well this time. By the afternoon the rain is sitting over Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the west coast of England, with only lighter showers moving inland. Again it’ll feel mild, double figures with another mild night preceding Thursday, so no risk of frost.

Overnight into Friday that rain pushes south across England clearing all but the extreme southerly coast by morning rush hour to leave a dry picture over much of Ireland and the U.K, except central Scotland which looks wet again I’m afraid. That’s the way it’s largely set to stay with that rain sitting over Scotland, perhaps edging south into The Lakes, but elsewhere it looks dry and sunny, but a good bit cooler, back to those early week, single-figure temperatures. The wind will remain westerly though they’ll be a northerly slant on it later in the day for Scotland I think.

Heading into the last weekend before Christmas and time to sort out my shopping I guess :(, let’s see what’s forecast. Well Saturday looks a dead ringer of Friday with that rain still persisting over Scotland, but as the day progresses it dissipates and is replaced by sunshine. Dry and sunny on the whole is the forecast for Ireland and the U.K, with the exception of Scotland and possibly north-west England where some showers are likely. A cool day in what is now a north-westerly wind, but lots of sunshine so we can’t complain.Sunday looks the same with rain for central Scotland and elsewhere dry, bright and sunny, with that wind still sitting strong and from the west.

Weather Outlook

Unsettled with a westerly airflow seems to set the scene for the outlook for next week as one intense low pressure moves off and is replaced by another by mid-week. So a similar start to next week in that Scotland and the northern counties of Ireland look to be wet, but further south it’ll be dry and mild, with some sunny interludes. By Tuesday we have a small low pressure system pushing into Scotland and that threatens to bring some more heavy rain, you guys really are getting your unfair share of rainfall 🙁 Leading up to Christmas Eve there’s a brief respite when the wind whips round to the north and brings a colder feel to the weather, but for Christmas Day it looks mild, windy and very wet I’m afraid across most of the country. So if you’re trying to walk off the usual Turkey and Christmas Pud pot belly, I suggest you pack some waterproofs !

Agronomic Notes

Spray Windows


With most of the rainfall at night for The Midlands and south of England, you have a very fortunate ‘take your pick’ scenario this week, but definitely Monday and Tuesday are the best, driest choices for applying a winter tonic. Not only that but with the milder ‘blip’ midweek you also have some very good conditions for uptake of that applied product mix.

For Ireland this isn’t the case, with a very wet period envisaged from Tuesday lunchtime till Thursday night, so really Monday and Friday are the best slots though of course I take on board the actual practicalities concerning getting to areas to apply a spray !

For Wales it also looks very tricky and although you could sneak an application today / tomorrow and get better uptake during the mid-week mild spell, maybe Friday would be the better bet as we look dry over the weekend as well so you may get more bangs for your buck. Tricky one to call either way.

For Scotland it is that ever-present rainfall that is the issue for you with possibly Tuesday the only chance of getting a spray out, but temperatures will not be as high as in the south in terms of facilitating uptake.

Anaerobicity / Hypoxia

With the extremely wet November, the start to this month and what now looks like a pretty unsettled Christmas, it’s likely that areas will begin to lose vigour due to waterlogging. Often this occurs where the surface is compacted and or where the rootzone is not functioning at its optimum in terms of moving water through. Tight clumps of perennial Poa annua will show the familiar ‘yellowing off’ phenomenon as oxygen levels decrease in the rootzone as will ryegrass.

Poa annua is the most sensitive grass species to low soil oxygen levels, this we know from its performance under ice cover when it will check out long before bentgrass does, so with the high levels of rainfall and mild weather, expect to see some issues around the periphery of greens (clean up strip). The mild weather is actually not a benefit to this situation because the higher temperatures will encourage grass growth and this will in turn deplete oxygen levels in the rootzone even further, hastening the point when the plant goes under hypoxic stress. This doesn’t just happen in the winter, the picture below was taken back in August 2008 when we had one of our wettest months on record due to a trough in the jet stream.


With a wet, saturated soil there isn’t a lot you can do about the situation now, but it serves to point out the value of aeration and efficient organic matter control during the time of year when aeration is more practically feasible.

Disease Management


It will be interesting to see how Microdochium behaves this week / month with the milder, wetter weather. Last year we had the same, mild, wet weather over Christmas and although conditions were perfect for disease growth, we didn’t see new outbreaks of disease, although we did see a resurgence of activity on older scars. I’d expect the same to be true this week, with the milder nights of Wednesday and Thursday potentially perfect for an increase in disease activity on the edge of older scars. A usual your feedback is greatly appreciated, it helps us all to make the right decisions going forward.

There’s still a bit of Anthracnose floating around, definitely the Basal Rot form after all this rain and I expect this to continue to be a feature though levels aren’t likely to increase dramatically anytime soon.

Mild and wet = pecking and I’ve noted some Badger, Corvid activity, potentially feeding on Chafers, Bibionids and Leatherjackets that are still active in the surface, though with some hard frosts at the back end of last week and over the weekend, that might just drop off a little.

Annual Rainfall Totals

Yes it’s that time of year again when I jog the grey matter concerning collating annual rainfall totals. If you’ve been filling in the spreadsheet we sent out, just forward that to us in early January when we’re back from the Christmas break. As usual we’ll aim to get these published in a map format on or around BTME.

Ok that’s it for now, one more week to go till batteries go onto recharge 🙂

All the best

Mark Hunt