December 7th

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Hi All,

Well the weather certainly made some headlines over the weekend. An estimated 12-14″ (300-350mm) of rain fell over the course of a 24-hour period across the north-west of England and parts of Scotland it was reported, courtesy of Storm Desmond . (What a crap name for a storm)

Such rainfall is unprecedented, but these events are likely to become more regular in my mind with the changes to our climate and the warming of the atmosphere. When you see pictures like this of Carlisle Football Club with flooding over the height of the goalposts according to the Carlisle manager on BBC Radio 4 this morning, it puts it all into perspective.

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So first off I’d like to wish all the best to everyone affected in the above areas by flooding. From a weather perspective I’m afraid it looks like there’s more to come specifically for that area over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, thereafter things should settle down as we get a break in these westerly low pressure systems.

A barmy, balmy 15°C as I stretched my legs in the sodden Leicestershire countryside yesterday. Walking, slipping and sliding at times, it was noticeable how advanced the crops are in the fields and how much grass growth there was in the pastures.

For sure things are still growing at a pace, I have Roses coming into flower in my garden, the Penstemon’s are still blooming and my spring bulbs / flowers are well on their way !

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All of the above said I can see that coming to a steady halt over the course of this week and perhaps beyond. (more on that later)

General Weather Situation

So we start the week and as predicted last week we have another north-south divide in terms of the weather as a low pressure system pushes in from The Atlantic. This will bring strong winds and significant rainfall I’m afraid over the course of the next 2-3 days for the west side of Scotland and the north west of England.

Putting some detail on it we have rain over Ireland, Wales, the north west of England and western Scotland early doors on Monday and this will gradually move north and east to affect central and eastern parts of northern England and Scotland through the course of the morning. For Ireland we have rain over most of the country during today, but later a more significant rain front pushes into West Kerry. (That one’s for the two JJ’s :)) and pushes north and east across Ireland tonight with some heavy rain bursts likely for south eastern Munster and Leinster. Further south and east of this, it’ll be a dull, dreary kind of day for England and Wales, but mainly dry with it and after lunch we see that cloud cover breaking to give a bright end to the day in some areas. Winds will be strong up to gale force in the north of Ireland, England and Scotland, lighter over The Midlands and south. Temperatures will be on the mild side, reaching double figures in most areas and perhaps even mid-teens in the far south of England if you see the sun.

Moving onto Tuesday we have that new storm front pushing in overnight into the early hours of Tuesday so some heavy rain likely to affected the entire western coastline of the U.K, right from the south-west of England up to the north west of Scotland. By morning rush hour we have two vertical bands of rain, one just approaching the west coast of Ireland, the other moving across central England stretching from Newcastle to the Isle of Wight. Through the morning this rain pushes eastwards and between it a brighter spell of weather will open up so for the afternoon for central areas it could be sunny and mild. Either side of this we will have these rain bands in situ. By dusk that rain has cleared most of Ireland and pushes into the west coast of Wales and northern England, lighter though in intensity. Temperatures will be a little down on the start of the week and still we will have strong to gale force winds over western parts of Scotland and the north of England.

Starting Wednesday we have rain over Ireland and a significant rain front pushing into north west England and Scotland through the course of the morning. South of this looks to be dry and bright with a cool start to the day. The Pennines appear to be the demarcation line, with rain north of this and brighter, cooler weather to the south. Through the course of the early afternoon, the rain over north west England moves off and pushes northwards into south west Scotland. At the same time we see another heavy rain pulse pushing into Connacht. Into Wednesday evening this rain spreads and intensifies in a line across all of Ireland, the north of England and Scotland, so a very wet night in prospect I’m afraid. South of this line we finish the day, dry, bright, but noticeably cooler as the temperatures start to drop away.

Overnight into Thursday we still have that heavy rain pulse sitting over the north west of England and North Wales, so more flooding for sure here. Further north we have another rain band stretching from Connacht, Donegal across to Scotland and this will fall as snow over higher ground as we start to see those temperatures drop.  As we move through Thursday morning this rain will push east over Ireland and slowly clear the west coast of the U.K, moving inland as it does. Again another north-south contrast with The Midlands and central areas having a dull, drizzly, cool day. Through the afternoon that rain moves south and eastwards into The Midlands and south of England so a wet end to the day for the south and a drier end to the day for the north. Scotland though will keep that mix of rain, sleet and snow right into Thursday evening. Wind-wise we will still have a prevailing south westerly wind, but it’ll remain cool with temperatures struggling to hit high single figures everywhere.

Closing out the week we have much cooler air moving in so that moisture sitting over Scotland will convert to a more wintry feel as we move into Friday. They’ll be some rain sitting over Donegal and North Wales and that will be slow to clear through Friday morning. Elsewhere it’ll be a cold, dry and bright start, potentially with an overnight frost if the skies clear overnight. It’ll also make the roads a tad slippy first thing with that combination of overnight rain and falling temperatures so please beware. Through Friday afternoon those wintry showers sink south along the north west coast of England and into Wales, so again some white stuff on the high stuff 🙂 The wind will still be from the west, decreasing in strength after a windy week, but as commented earlier, it’ll be noticeably cooler, even in the sunshine. The Midlands and Central England look to have a dry end to the week, dry, but cold mind.

Onto the all-important weekend and Saturday looks to be dry and cold for most areas with some wintry sunshine and a widespread frost for many areas. By dusk though we have a rain front pushing into West Kerry (there’s another mention lads so you can’t complain now :)) and this will move rapidly north and east across Ireland on Saturday night and into the western coastline of the U.K during the early hours of Sunday. You can guess then that Sunday looks to be extremely wet in places with some of that rain falling as sleet and snow, particularly over The Highlands which may pick up a lovely dump in time for some Scottish skiing 🙂 So a wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards and chilling out, inside Sunday I think for many, though it will feel much milder.

Weather Outlook

Thought inevitably turn towards snow at Christmas around now, whereas I’m more Paddy Power-orientated courtesy of my spread of White Christmas bets placed in September 🙂 Still too early to say as we’re more than 10 days out but next week’s blog will give an inkling I think. That said we are definitely in for some chillier weather next week. So Monday looks to have a continuation of that low pressure system sitting over the south of England and although mild initially, it’ll start to pull in cold, moist area from Scandinavia and Russia. That means wet, cold and windy with a prevailing north westerly wind. So some of this moisture will fall as wintry showers, particularly over higher elevations. That low looks to stay in situ till mid-week when it reluctantly skulks off towards the continent. This has the effect of pulling in colder, northerly winds from Wednesday next week onwards and possibly some wintry showers, this time for the eastern coastline of the U.K. So the 2nd half of next week looks drier, especially for the west you’ll be pleased to hear, but blooming cold with some strong northerly winds in place.

If I took a guess after that I’d say we’ll see Atlantic low pressures start to dominate on the run up to Christmas so a return to mild, wetter weather and another win for Paddy Power 🙁

Agronomic Notes

Soil Temperature & Grass Growth

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Checking the soil temperature on my monitor just now, I see it’s sitting at 13.3°C, on the 7th December ! Looking back at this year’s soil temperature readings from the spring, that is the same as I measured in Mid-May 2015 !

It’s hardly surprising as I go round that outfield areas (and my own lawn!) are currently on the verge of being out of control with many end-users finding it difficult to get a cut on fairways, semi-rough, tees and sports pitches. Not too mention sloped areas like tee and bunker banks. This growth will definitely come to a halt by the end of this week with the predicted decline in air temperature and from what I can see next week it won’t be going back up again after a brief period of milder weather passes through Sunday / Monday.

The problem is when do you get that cut in ?

I fully accept / appreciate many areas particularly across the west and north of the U.K / Ireland will have absolutely no chance of cutting anything this week and next week for that matter. For the guys in central and southern areas I’d say you may just have the opportunity this week despite some of that westerly rain pushing eastwards. It’s probably going to be a case of making the best out of a bad lot i.e cutting even though you know it’ll make things look worse initially, but with next week’s low pressure set to bring more rain to the south, this may be the last week that presents any opportunity at all this side of Christmas. Sorry to be a bit doomy and gloomy but that’s the craic I’m afraid.

Changing our approach going forward ?

Bearing in mind this will be the longest spell of consistent mild weather that I can remember extending not only through October (which is normal now), but November and half of December as well, should we change our approach to turf maintenance accordingly ?

Ok, one Swallow doesn’t make a summer, next year may be different but maybe we have to adapt our thinking going forward ?

PGR’s on outfield turf in November ?

Last week I discussed the very evident fact that temperature is driving grass growth more I think than light availability. This has to be the case because November was the dullest on record for the last 80 years or so with a total of 36 hours sunshine for the entire month.

Grass species like Lolium perenne (Perennial ryegrass) has always I think been a notoriously poor grass (growth-wise) in the winter and I had put this down to lack of light being the main driver. I have to question my conclusion now because I’m seeing thick, lush ryegrass swards even when we have had poor light levels, so temperature must be the main driver for its growth ?

Considering it is one of the least-affected species in terms of trinexapac-ethyl applications, is there not a case to continue PGR applications right into the back end of the year if we are seeing this trait of mild soil and air temperatures continue ? Surely locking down the growth by using a high rate of TE combined with iron would give excellent presentation, but without the clippings headache.

Now I’d admit to being one of those that doesn’t like the idea of extending PGR applications late into the year with my reluctance mainly orientated towards fine turf, rather than outfield, but we must think out of the box and change / adapt to our changing environment. I know some of you apply PGR pretty much all-year-round and report excellent results (on fine turf I mean) so if this years weather trend becomes the norm I think it’s something we need to consider going forward.

Insecticides

With no Chlorpyrifos available now and with many reporting strong worm activity at the back end despite applying Carbendazim or other treatments (tut tut) I guess this is another area where we are going to have to change our way of thinking because I can’t see anything on the horizon anytime soon. This change of mindset will have to extend from maintenance to management and the players as well.

Disease Management /  Spray Windows

Not that there have been many spray windows of late due either to surfaces being too wet to take a sprayer onto and / or strong winds and heavy rain, but it’s likely that some of you still have active Fusarium (Sorry Microdochium nivale!) on your fine turf areas, particularly on the periphery of areas that were attacked late October/ early November. The question is when are you going to get a chance to spray ? Well obviously it depends on which part of the U.K and Ireland you’re located, for some, this week (and next) will present no opportunity due to constant rainfall, but for others (more east and south) you should have some spray windows this week.

Traditionally I know a lot of you like to put a tonic on for Christmas just to keep the plant healthy but apart from some areas this week I don’t think next week will provide much in the way of opportunity with either rainfall early in the week or strong, northerly winds later. It’s going to be tricky for sure. So identify an opportunity if it is there and take it is my advice.

Ok that’s it for now.

All the best..

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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