Hi All,

Scarcely time to unpack my bags from Harrogate and I’m off to the GCSAA at the end of the week for the educational classes and show. It’s that time of year again! Kind of looking forward to it as I have some good classes lined up and for once, I’ll be sitting in the audience and someone else will be doing the talking! 🙂

BMTE 2014 was excellent. Thankfully my talk seemed to go down well (cheers everyone for the feedback) and the stand was busy, can’t ask for more.

Well I could actually… I could ask for more… I could ask for this rain to stop.

22mm over the weekend including one huge storm on Saturday that gave us 10mm in an hour or so. I was walking over at Fineshades Forest near Corby. TI was 12°C, the sun was out and the Red Kites were busy displaying. I remarked to my ‘significant other’ what a hash up I’d made of my blog’s weekend forecast where I had described the weather outlook as “Crap” for the weekend. I got a text from a mate fishing the Trent (see I don’t fish ALL the time :)) to say he’d had to pack up such was the strength of the wind and the lightning storm. I had to ring him to check, but sure enough he sad it was mad weather. At this stage we were 2 miles out from the lodge at Fineshades and heading away, so I looked at my Meteoblue RainNow forecast and it looked dire, the highest readings I’d ever seen predicted in half an hour’s time, so we turned round, put a brisk walk on, 10 minutes away from the lodge, the horizon was jet black and the thunder continuous, like an approaching aircraft. Amazingly, families were still walking out into the woods, completely oblivious to the approaching weather, I guess many people are so reliant on technology nowadays, they can no longer read the natural signs anymore. Nature could though as I saw families of Long-Tailed Tits pilling into Leylandi for cover!

When it hit, we had continous lightning, hailstorms that coated the roads and fields like snow, winds that felt like they’d lift the car up and driving rain. The air temperature dropped from 12°C to 2.5°C in less than 5 minutes. Apparently it set off a number of mini tornadoes over The Midlands and the south-East of England later in the day that ripped the roofs off houses and took cats up into the air. I’ve never seen anything like it… An hour later, the sun was out and just the damage remained. Uncanny weather for January for sure, but the question I know you want answered is… Is it likely to last?

General Weather Situation

As forecast last week, the start of this week will be affected by that low pressure slowly sinking south of us, so yes it will remain unsettled, but going drier and colder towards the end of the week, before another low sinks down for the close of the week / start of the weekend.

Monday sees a unsettled start to the week for many, with rain and wintry showers over higher ground. Principally it’ll be affecting Ireland, the west coast of the U.K and Scotland, with the Highlands getting some falls of snow to boot. Further south and east it’ll be dry and settled with a chance of seeing the sun and for many probably the best day of the week. Temperatures will be mid-single figures and winds light from the south-west. As we move into the evening, that low swirls rain showers inland across The Midlands and the north of England.

Tuesday sees that low swirl more rain across the U.K with the heaviest forecast for the south-west of Ireland, England, South Wales and Scotland, so a wet dawn in prospect here. During the morning that rain moves east to affect The Midlands and south of England reaching the east coast during the afternoon. So unsettled just about everywhere for Tuesday, cool in that southerly wind, but no risk of frost.

For Wednesday that low continues to head south and there’s a chance it’ll push rain up the east coast and into Scotland as it does so. Elsewhere a dry, dull day for most with a risk that rain may become confined to East Anglia / East Midlands and also a chance of some wintry showers over The Pennines. Remaining cool, mid-single figures and about normal for the end of January.

By Thursday the effects of that low are diminishing and so a dry day for many, with even a chance of seeing the sun down south. Ireland sees a rain band pushing into Donegal, Connacht and West Munster during the morning, but at present this isn’t projected to move across into Leinster. There’s also a chance of some snow showers over The Pennines and Highlands of Scotland as well during the day. It’ll feel raw as that low brings in cold wind from across The North Sea and blows from the east.

Closing out the week you’ll see that wind switch round to the south-west and strengthen heralding the arrival of a new low pressure from The North Atlantic. At present this is projected to make landfall along the west coast of Ireland on Friday morning bringing heavy rain and wintry showers over the higher ground of Ireland before pushing rapidly eastwards. By lunchtime, it’ll be affecting the west coast of the U.K, primarily as rain, but falling as wintry showers at altitude. By mid-afternoon it’ll be across the entire U.K and I’m afraid there’s some very heavy rain associated with this front, particularly for the areas that need it the least, i.e the south-west of England. God knows what the Somerset Levels will be like with this deluge. It also looks like my flight is going to be extremely bumpy as we’ll go straight through that low pressure system 🙁

The weekend at this stage doesn’t look too bad as that rain front is projected to clear overnight into Saturday, so we’ll be sodden, but with only a risk of showers over The Midlands. Later on Saturday, a new rain front pushes into the south-west of England and Wales and heads north-east, so it looks like we’ll close out Saturday wet 🙁 Sunday looks unsettled with a cool southerly wind pushing showers across the U.K and Ireland, but it may be a tad better for the afternoon.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks like starting cool / cold, unsettled with a small low pressure bringing cold air up from the continent, possibly with an easterly wind, so always a chance of snow showers and if the clouds clear, frost. That low slinks away, so at this stage from Tuesday onwards it should be dry and cold, but you guessed it, there’s another low projected to sweep the wind round to the south-west and bring in milder air from mid-week, so temperatures will rise and winds will strengthen. By the end of next week, it’s projected that we’ll be in the grip of an Atlantic-wide low pressure system, so that means continuing unsettled, mild and windy for the foreseeable, I’m sorry to say. (And a very quick flight home probably from Orlando!)

Agronomic Notes

One of the visitors to the Headland stand at Harrogate said that reading my agronomic notes at the moment was a bit like listening to a stuck record and I apologise for that, but when you consider that some end-users are calling in 260mm+ rainfall since December 20th, (cheers Jamie) it’s hardly surprising really! (And I know other places have had more than that)

So what’s to say? Well we will be seeing some loss of grass cover due to Hypoxia (lack of oxygen), especially if the rootzone is sub-optimal in terms of drainage and particularly on low light, shaded scenarios. Interestingly I was listening to a farmer today on The Somerset Levels saying that Winter Wheat could survive 21 days of immersion under water before it checked out due to Hypoxia and I reckon Poa annua is similar to that as well. Bentgrass is less affected by this trait, but one thing that’s not helping Bentgrass at the moment is the low light levels associated with all of this rain.

Last week, Karl Danneberger in one of his talks confirmed that Poa annua is able to grow better during low light conditions than Bentgrass, now undoubtedly he was talking about Creeping Bentgrass, but I think the same applies to Colonial Bentgrass as well. So what you’re likely to see at present is that Poa will be romping away (provided its growth isn’t limited by lack of oxygen due to waterlogging) at the expense of Bentgrass.

Another plant that’s doing well at the moment in these continuing conditions of high rainfall and low light is moss. So many people came up to me at the show to say how moss has become quite aggressive this winter, both on outfield and close-mown turf. The problem is in days gone by we had products like Super Mosstox which worked well when applied late in the year. Now that’s gone, the other two Moss Control chemical alternatives, Mogaton and Carfentrazone are only suitable for applying on unstressed turf that’s growing well, in other words during the spring / summer growing season.

That just leaves sulphate of iron as our winter product of choice and I believe it does serve a purpose on most moss species, but struggles on Silver Moss. For sure it checks the growth of moss and if that allows the competitive advantage to swing back to grass, even if it’s Poa annua, then so be it. So if you are able at anytime to get an application out in the near future, I would definitely.

Next week, I don’t think I’ll be able to get a blog out because I have 2 classes on Monday on Poa / Bentgrass Population Dynamics from 8 a.m to 5 p.m (Dreading only having crap Starbucks Coffee to sustain me as Costa hasn’t crossed the pond), an all-day class on Tuesday set on a golf course in Orlando titled “Gadgets & Gizmo’s on the Golf Course”, so I hope to come back enlightened on moisture meters, light meters, chlorophyll meters, etc 🙂 and one on Wednesday on Moss: The latest research. So don’t think it’s a jolly, I will enjoy it though 🙂

Catch you most likely in two weeks time, unless I can sneak a quick blog out..

All the best

Mark Hunt