Hi All,

Nearly back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) with my blog writing, but this week I wanted till today so I could do a proper summary of November’s lovely weather 🙂

Time marches on and Christmas (bah humbug) is just around the corner. As I said to the lass in our local Waitrose who was offering samples of their Christmas pud in mid-November…”Would you like to try some sir ?” she said, “Yes please” says I………”At Christmas” and promptly walked off with a certain smugness I must admit….

Not that you’d know we are in December as we still have 10.5°C soil temperature, the grass is still growing and the animals that normally would have hibernated by now are still stocking up. My last pair of Hedgehogs are up to 350gms now (It must be like alien abduction to them, there they are sitting chomping on some mealworms and up they go, straight onto a set of scales and then back again) so I reckon they’re fat enough to survive what will be a shorter winter. Last week out on an evening cycle I saw bats feeding in the railway tunnels I was cycling through, they’re normally fast asleep by now….

As you can see from this morning’s Sunseeker 3D pic, we are rapidly heading to the lowest point of the winter in terms of the sun’s ‘angle of dangle’ and then we begin the march back to summer 🙂 (Well more of a stagger really initially)


So after the deluges of November (particularly for the north west of England where some areas are reporting 14 inches -350mm of rain for the month !), how does the beginning of December look like it’s shaping up ?

General Weather Situation

Tuesday starts off dry, dull and settled for southern areas with quieter winds than of late (another feature of November is those high winds), however we already have more heavy rain mixed in with wintry showers over Scotland, the north of England and Wales, north of a line drawn up from The Wash. Ireland also looks to have rain along the west coast in particular, but showers across the rest of the country to boot. As we move through the morning that rain pushes northwards into Scotland with some heavier bursts on the north west coast and over my beloved Arran 🙂 We’ll also still see some rain lingering over mid-Wales as well and into the South Lakes. A quieter day wind-wise for many, but a real north-south divide in terms of temperatures with mild air over central and southern England and colder air across the north and Scotland. So single figures initially for Scotland, but milder air pushing in later with that rain and low to even mid-teens in the south of England would you believe. Winds will be south-westerly / westerly and moderate.

Onto Wednesday and that rain, lighter now, is still sitting over Wales, the north of England and Scotland, whilst a new front pushes into the west of Ireland. So by dawn we have a band sitting across Ireland up to Scotland, but further south across The Midlands and Central England we look dry. As we move through the morning that rain clears Ireland and much of Scotland, but intensifies over Wales and the north west of England (sorry) during the early afternoon. So by dusk we still have heavy rain stretching over Wales up into the north west and north of England, but it has cleared Ireland, most of Scotland and further south, you stay dry. Again we’ll have mild temperatures for Wednesday with moderate westerly / south-westerly winds, but it’ll be a few degrees cooler than Tuesday so low-double figures the order of the day.

Overnight into Thursday and we see that northerly intense band of rain pushing south with a change in the wind direction (to northerly) so for you up north, it’ll be a drier day once that rain has moved away. Ireland and Scotland look to start bright and clear, most likely with an overnight frost as that cooler air pushes southwards. So that rain band stretches over Wales and the north of England during the morning and with the drop in temperatures will likely fall as sleet and snow over The Pennines and at higher elevations. Through the afternoon that rain continues to sink southwards over the south west and southern England so a wet and cold end to Thursday for you. North and west of this it’ll be dry and bright with a marked coolness to the temperatures and the chance of a ground frost initially.

As we move into Friday that rain band stubbornly clings to the south east of England and save for some rain / wintry showers over The Highlands of Scotland it’ll be a dry, cold, bright start for many on Friday with maybe more in the way of cloud for Ireland and Scotland. As we move through the morning that rain clears England but stays in situ over The Highlands and is joined by a new band, so heavier rain for the north west of Scotland. That same rain band will also push into Connacht through Friday afternoon and provides a portent to come for the weekend. unfortunately. So a dry day on Friday for England and Wales, with just some rain later in the day for the north of England. It’ll remain cool though despite the wind swinging back round to the south west / west for the close of the week so high single figures the order of the day.

Onto the all-important weekend and if you’re planning on hitting the shops I suggest you take some very good waterproof coats and a hat because we have a good deal of heavy rain on the radar and some high winds for Saturday in particular. So i wouldn’t bother with a brolly as it’s likely to do a Sputnik impression down the High Street !.

Starting on Saturday we have heavy rain for Ireland, Scotland and the north of England (north west in particular I’m afraid) straight from the office. This rain will move south into Wales and the south west by mid-morning, but eastern and central areas may well stay dry. Through the afternoon it’ll clear Ireland from the north downwards, but it looks if anything to intensify over the north west of England and Wales through dusk on Saturday and in addition it’ll move eastwards as well so a wet Saturday night in prospect for most. We will also see a band of rain and wintry showers into The Highlands through Saturday evening, falling as sleet and snow. It’ll be another north-south divide in terms of temperatures with cold air over Scotland and mild, wet air over the south of Ireland, Wales and England.

Sunday sees that rain sink further south so Ireland, the north of England and Scotland look to start dry, however by mid-morning it starts to move north again so the south of England, central areas and The Midlands will get a double whammy of rainfall. During Sunday afternoon this rain will have pushed back into Ireland and will be back heading northwards across Wales and moving into the north of England. By dusk on Sunday it’ll be across the north of England, Ireland and Scotland and as it meets that colder air, it’ll fall as sleet and snow over higher elevations. So cool and wet will sum up the weekend for many.

Weather Outlook

I’d love to say I can see an end to this constant stream of westerly low pressure systems pushing in and drowning us out, but I can’t, though we will have a mid-week respite next week. Including this coming weekend we will have had 4 low pressure systems rattle in over the last 3 weeks and you can clearly see their effect on rainfall patterns in the graph below. (Cheers James)


So next week looks like starting very wind, cool in the north and with heavy rain pushing across the country.  It looks to stay unsettled through Tuesday, maybe with lighter rain though and milder as well as the winds shift round to the south. By mid-week we will be settled and cooler with high pressure temporarily bringing over to affairs, but it doesn’t look to last as a new, intense low pressure pushes in for the latter part of next week bringing mild air, high winds and of course rainfall. Initially for Ireland and the north west / Scotland on Thursday morning next week, but I expect it to push across all areas on Thursday with possibly a drier interlude for all but Scotland to close out the week.

Agronomic Notes

Plenty to catch up about as it’s the start of a new month.

GDD Data

You may remember I was surprised at the start of last month to see that October 2015 was actually cooler than October 2014, so how has November fared ?


According to our monthly GDD measurements, November 2015 was the warmest we’ve measured and no doubt I’m sure The Met Office and the like will pronounce it as the warmest November ever.

Looking at specific growth patterns during November using Growth Potential as a guide you can clearly see milder November 2015 temperatures vs. 2014 in the graphs below  for Thame, Bristol and Dublin ; (Thanks James, Sean and Aine)


All 3 locations show the much warmer weather for the start of November and indeed right up until that cold weekend during the third week of November when temperatures plummeted, albeit temporarily. November’s high G.P figures produced 50% more total growth potential than the previous year.

Disease Activity

Those spikes in growth have caused issues in terms of renewed activity of disease, specifically Microdochium nivale with probably the longest spell now of sustained disease pressure we’ve ever encountered.

I’ve also seen some active Fairy Ring and Thatch Fungus lately, not surprising really as this family of fungi can show activity right down to 2°C air temperature.

It also means grass has still been growing and that has some up and downsides. With the constant rainfall and milder temperatures it means getting a clean cut on outfield areas that are still growing is proving very challenging. On the flip side if you have scarring from that intense spell of disease activity in late October and early November, you should be seeing some new growth emerging through the scars, providing recovery.

Light vs. Temperature

As we move deeper into the winter in terms of shorter and shorter day length I’m surprised that we continue to see so much growth when the grass plant has a much shorter period of time to photosynthesise during the day. How come ? We’ve all been told that late season growth depletes carbohydrate reserves going into the winter, but surely if the plant is still growing it’s because it is able to make new carbohydrate from photosynthesis rather than just rely on stored reserves ?

It does prove to me that temperature is the primary driver to grass growth and that’s why GDD and G.P measurements are so relevant.

That said, we know it’s not the same for every species of grass because some are more light-dependent than others with Poa annua I think the best-adapted grass to grow under low light conditions. Ryegrass and Bentgrass (Creeping and Colonial) would feature as two of the less-able grass species in terms of growth in low light, with the latter, the most affected in my humble opinion.

Although GDD and G.P models work on air temperature we can see that soil temperature as well has been higher than ever this November ; (Spot the cold weekend in November !)


Moss and Algae

Two plant species that have definitely benefited from the combination of milder air and high soil moisture going into the back end of the year are Moss and Algae, with numerous reports of Black Algae present on areas of turf, particularly those that may have thinned over the late summer (Clean up strips, Shaded areas)

Coarse-leaved and Silver Moss species are also showing continued growth and I’d expect to come into the spring with higher populations than you went into winter.

Disease Activity – Wet Greens vs. Dry Greens

I’ve often seen and often heard feedback from you guys and girls on the fact that Microdochium tends to attack drier, more open aspect greens in the winter and early spring, whereas the normal, wet, indicator greens stay clean. Why is this ?

Some people say it’s linked to plant stress, i.e the open greens are more stressed. I can accept this for the summer and early part of the autumn, but not the winter.

I think it is to do with the actual survival of Microdochium nivale spores and the little-known fact that spores of this fungal species prefer dry conditions, rather than wet conditions in order to survive, germinate and become pathogenic again in the future. So I’m specifically talking about spore survival here, not the growth of the actual fungus itself across the plant leaf. So on wet greens I think less spores survive compared to drier greens so as we progress through the winter, it’s the latter you’ll need to keep an eye on IMHO.


With continued natural growth around there’s less need for nutrition for sure and with windy weather and frequent rain, if it is required then granular applications are the only ones likely to be made. For sure they’ll be more leaching at the back end of this year but as we’ve seen in other very wet years, grass stays healthy provided it has oxygen available.

Ok that’s it for now, should be back next Monday all things considered.

All the best.

Mark Hunt