Hi All,

A shortened blog today because technically I’m supposed to be on holiday, but alas my dedication to what will be my last blog of 2015 comes before everything 🙂

So we are one day away from the Winter Solstice, our shortest day of the year and likely to be wet, dull and mild. I often mention this day as the turning point for the winter (from a daylight perspective) but it certainly won’t be one from a weather perspective as many areas are still waiting for winter to start. What does the Winter Solstice mean ? Well here’s a diagram to show you…


Courtesy of The Daily Express

As you can see it marks the point in the year when the North Pole is tilting furthermost from the sun so the Northern Hemisphere is at its furthest point from the sun and the Southern Hemisphere is at its closest.

I always judge this point by my TomTom in my car because it typically switches from daylight to night light mode at its earliest point in the day around now.

Speaking of my TomTom, I was gadding about ‘down south’ last week and I put a route in to take me from Kent to Cambridge, I couldn’t help but smile when it showed London (not my favourite place as you’ll know) in all of its glory 🙂


Another weather-related shot from the warmest December weekend I can remember allowing me to mountain bike in shorts and a T-Shirt, was this shot of my car dash (not by me of course) as I was Fen-bound on the way to a nice evening’s Zander fishing (speedo not featured for obvious reasons ahem) 17°C ! just mad….

So onto an abridged weather summary for this week and a look ahead to the end of this year weather-wise.

General Weather Situation

Well starting the week we still have that strong westerly jetstream in place that’s been wafting warm air over The Atlantic (which must be the warmest its ever been in December)  so that means an unsettled, windy and sometimes wet week ahead, with possibly a cold snap for Christmas Day just to bring us to our senses temporarily anyway.

So Monday sees a general band of rain already into Ireland and pushing east to make landfall with the western coastline of the U.K mid-morning. It’ll then continue its march over the U.K to give a wet afternoon and evening for many. This rain may fall as wintry showers across The Highlands. Temperatures staying mild (but not as high as last week) with a strong westerly wind. Tuesday sees a continuation of this wet theme with another heavy pulse of rain over Ireland moving eastwards. This time it’ll tend to affect westerly regions more with some heavy rain across the North Wales, the north-west of England (sorry everyone) and south west Scotland. Towards the end of Tuesday those winds change from south-westerly to north westerly and that’ll drop the temperature, especially for the north and for Ireland.

By Wednesday we still have that rain affecting the north west and south west of Scotland, but as we go through the day it’ll begin to fizzle out, so Ireland should have a sunny afternoon after a dull start. Away to the south and east you’ll miss any rain and have a bright, sunny day, though feeling a good bit cooler than of late as that cold air sinks south. It’ll remain windy in all areas with a westerly wind in place. As we head towards Thursday we have a heavy rain front pushing into Ireland during Wednesday night and again this will push into western coasts bringing some heavy rain to the south west, Wales, the north west and western Scotland. This rain will push eastwards falling as wintry showers at elevation in the colder air that we now will have with us, so a potentially wet Christmas eve for central and eastern areas.

For Christmas Day we have some wintry showers over Scotland kicking off the day and that should the first of my Paddy Power White Christmas bets (placed in September mind) safely in the bag (and it’ll nicely compensate the ones that won’t come in :)) These wintry showers will affect north west England, The Pennines and down to Manchester / Leeds M62 country. Elsewhere we look to have a dry, bright, breezy start to Christmas day and a chilly one perhaps with a night frost in places if the skies clear on Christmas Eve. By evening on Christmas Day a new rain front will push into south west Munster and move north east across Ireland to give a wet end to the day.

This rain will move with milder air into the west coast of the U.K in the early hours of Boxing Day. So Boxing Day follows that very familiar path pushing over from Ireland to affect the west coast of the U.K. Unfortunately it looks like North Wales, the north west of England and south west of Scotland will cop it the worst. Further south and east of this, the equally-familiar story of drier conditions plays out.  It’ll be cooler again than of late with light westerly winds.

Looking ahead to the end of 2015 we look to have some very windy conditions kicking in from the start of next week with initially some pretty mild temperatures on a southerly airstream. So, very windy, mild and unsettled initially, but was we progress towards mid-week we see cooler air coming into the west and also some pretty heavy rain around especially as we get closer to New Years Eve. So it could be a cool, but potentially pretty wet end to 2015.

Agronomic Notes

Rainfall Data 2015

I’ve already had some year-to-date rainfall stats coming in but obviously once we’ve kissed goodbye to 2015, please send them on to weather@headlandamenity.com

I’m sure we’re going to see some strange readings for this year with some locations in the south and south east reporting a dry year overall even though everywhere is pretty wet as we stand now. Indeed if you look at lake and reservoir levels in The Midlands and south of England, they’re a long way down on where you’d expect them to be in late December. Some end-users are reporting 50% capacity which will contrast markedly with the west and north where we have far too much water for rivers and reservoirs alike to cope with.

GDD / Growth Potential Spreadsheet 2016


True to form Paul has kindly updated the above to 2016 specification so if you want to download it in readiness for the new year ahead you’ll find it here

As I hope you’ve all seen it generates some very useful data as we go through the year. For me it allows us to put some meaningful figures behind how growth is year-on-year and spot uptake windows for PGR’s, fertilisers and pesticides alike. For sure November and December 2016 will check out as the highest GDD / G.P figures we’ve measured to date.

Carrying on the theme from last week here’s how this autumn / winter looks to date in terms of daily growth patterns vs. the same period last year.

GP211214 GP211215

December 2015 (to date)  represents a 370% increase in total growth potential vs. December 2014 with a total figure of 8.65 for the month to date.

To put that into perspective the total G.P for March 2015 was 4.26, so that means we’re likely to have had twice the growth potential in December 2015 than we had in March 2015 !!!!

Balmy / Barmy…..

Look at the last 5 days of this month and you can see the extremely high growth potential figures indicating strong growth of not only grass, but also pathogens I’m afraid so it’s hardly surprising I’m going to cover them next 🙁

Disease Activity

I’d anticipate plenty of disease activity about at the moment, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that 5 days on the bounce of 16ºC and night temperatures in the teens will mean that Microdochium nivale is on the march again.

So we will see that familiar sight of activity around old scars and on turf that should currently be under protection. As I have explained before this is not because the control isn’t working, it’s because the rate of fungal growth (due to high temperatures) is faster than the rate of fungal growth suppression by the fungicide. So you’re likely to see mycelium on your turf for the start of this week but happily with a cooler day today and some colder days this week, that should tip the balance back again.

If you haven’t got a control in place and you can find a spray window (unlikely in the west and north I’ll grant) I’d just apply a high rate of acidifying iron with the option of tank-mixing a fungicide (if your outbreak is particularly bad) if it’s mixable of course. I’m finding some good results with this strategy this autumn in terms of just knocking back the disease growth, sure it won’t eradicate it, but it does help.


Ok, all that remains is to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas wherever you end up spending it and I look forward to 2016 and hopefully a blast of winter before we start the spring. If not we’ll have our Poa seedhead flush in February at this rate !!!!!

All the best..

Mark Hunt