February 27th

170227_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Nearly out of February then and March beckons just around the corner. It was quite an interesting week last week weather-wise with Feb202017a balmy start to the week in the south of England with temperatures tipping 18°C along the M25 (Thanks Mark for the piccie).

3 days later we had snow and blizzards in Scotland and North England and extremely strong wind gusts courtesy of Storm Doris. I was out on golf courses last Thursday and you could hardly stand up, flags were being ripped from flag poles and sand was being blown out of bunkers and topdressing collars and greens. (and shot blasting anyone in the way as well)

Quite something to behold.

We have another storm heading our way, Ewan this one is called, nothing like Doris in terms of wind strength I don’t think but it will bring more rain, some strong winds (for the north particularly) and a colder slant to the weather this week. As predicted March will start cooler than February ended, so much for the calandar eh ?

General Weather Situation

sTORMeWANSo we start Monday with Ewan already in situ as can be seen by the Unisys graphic on the right of this picture. It’ll bring strong winds, cool weather and a mix of rain, sleet and snow to the U.K and Ireland across Monday. So starting off we already see the effects of Ewan on Monday morning with rain across the south east of England and wintry showers affecting the west of Scotland and north west of England, whereas Ireland starts off bright and clear. Through the morning we will see rain / wintry showers clearing Scotland and pushing into Wales and England by lunchtime from the west. Ireland will also see showers pushing into the west at the same time. During the afternoon that mix of rain, sleet and snow on higher elevations will push east across Ireland and the U.K, whilst Scotland remains clear, bright and cold for the remainder of Monday.

With respect to night frosts this week, they are more likely Monday to Thursday inclusive but a lot will depend of your overnight cloud cover, if you clear you’ll have a light ground frost, if you stay covered you won’t.

A chilly day as you can see from the temperature gradients above, it’ll feel quite parky with single figures the name of the game, mid-single figures across Scotland and high single figures for Ireland, Wales and England despite the light to moderate south west wind.

Onto Tuesday and overnight we see a mix of snow, sleet and rain across Wales, The Midlands and the south of England with snow likely over elevations. Scotland will also see some wintry showers affecting the north west coastline as well, whereas Ireland starts dry and cold. A widespread ground frost is likely depending on cloud cover across your area. Through Tuesday morning we will see those wintry showers become confined to western coasts across England and Wales whereas Scotland will see those wintry showers push south and east from their original north west location. Ireland will also see some wintry showers into Donegal and north west Connacht. By dusk these showers are set to affect the western coastline of the U.K, all the way up from the south west to Scotland, but Ireland stays largely dry save for those north western showers. Again another chilly one with similar temperatures to Monday, mid to high single figures kept down by that moderate to strong westerly / north westerly wind which will reach gale force during Tuesday night across The Midlands and south of the U.K.

Onto Wednesday, the first day of March and that chilly theme to the week continues disrespecting the calendar completely 🙂 It will be drier though on Wednesday as we start cool and clear with some high cloud and the odd snow shower working across the north east coast of Scotland. At the same time we see a band of rain pushing into Kerry and moving north and east through the morning diagonally. By lunchtime this rain is across south Munster and tip-toeing into the south west of England, whilst those wintry showers continue across and along The Moray Firth and The Black Isle. Through the course of the afternoon that diagonal band of rain pushes slowly up across Ireland and England reaching South Wales shortly before dusk. North and east of this band of rain you should have a settled day, remaining cool though with mid to high single figures the norm I’m afraid. The wind will remain moderate to strong and south / north westerly in nature except for Scotland where it’ll be more northerly.

Overnight into Thursday sees that mix of rain, sleet and snow push up from South Wales and the south west of England into The Midlands and East Anglia. They’ll also be some further rain, wintry showers nipping at Donegal and the north west of Scotland. By daybreak on Thursday we will see that rain, sleet and snow across the north west of England / south west of Scotland and pushing inland more as snow I think. They’ll also be rain for Connacht and Donegal (looks like Leinster gets off lightly this week 🙂 ). Through the course of Thursday morning we will see a band of rain, some of it heavy push into Kerry and move diagonally into Leinster later. We will also see a continuation of rain, sleet and snow across the north west of England. South and east of this that earlier moisture will dissipate to give a clear and cool day for Thursday but with some sunshine making an appearance mind. In that sunshine temperatures will rise to break double figures pushed along by a milder and stronger south west airstream. Spoke too soon for Leinster as I expect that Kerry rain to extend up across Munster into Leinster through the course of Thursday afternoon, sorry lads 🙁

Scotland in the meantime will see those morning wintry showers once again push east and south inland through the course of the day, slow to clear the west cost though. Temperature-wise, as already hinted, we look milder on Thursday across The Midlands, the south of England and Wales but remaining cool across Scotland and Ireland under that cloud cover and rain.

Closing out what has been another busy weather week we see another band of rain push across Ireland and into Wales / north west of England overnight and this will move into The Midlands / north west of England first thing on Friday. They’ll also be rain across the south east of England, but Ireland and Scotland look to be pretty dry. It won’t last for Scotland though as that rain across northern England pushes into Scotland by late morning falling as wintry showers across elevation. Ireland looks to stay dry. Through Friday afternoon a more concentrated band of rain will push up from the south into southern England and then proceed northwards across Wales, The Midlands where it may become heavy and localised on Friday night I’m afraid. (bugger, bugger, bugger, another weekend of coloured water ot fish in 🙁 ) So a wet end to Friday for England, Wales and Scotland but I think Ireland will stay dry and pleasantly sunny with high, hazy cloud. Temperatures remaining the wrong side of double figures as that cool theme for the week continues even though the wind will be southerly, south westerly in nature.

Looking at the all-important weekend, the first of March and the outlook will remain unsettled but at least we will lose that wind with a calmer theme to the weekend, wind-wise. Unsettled for on Saturday across many regions, the north and north east particularly but we should see plenty of sun on Saturday, some showers acround in the areas mentioned but these will disipate through the course of Saturday to give a pleasant if slightly cool day with mid to high single figures maybe touching double figures in the south of England and Ireland in a light to moderate westerly wind. Sunday looks more unsettled as a low pressure system is set to cross the south of Ireland so more risk of rain there in the south and west and this may spill over to the south and west of England / Wales through Sunday morning. At a pinch I think the 2nd part of the day will be better than the first with a greater threat of rain across the south of the U.K. Temperatures for the weekend remaining on the cool side for the 1st week of March.

Weather Outlook

So will March continue cooler than February as winter does its by now traditionally thing and extend into what was our spring season ?

Next week looks to start off quieter and drier with light winds you’ll be pleased to know but I think we may see a ground frost. I think we will also see a milder theme to the week as westerly winds become established from Tuesday onwards so quite possibly a sunshine and showers week is likely with milder temperatures than this week. There’s a possibility of more concentrated rain on Thursday next week and this may spill over to Friday but drier on the whole (so less heavy rain dumps), staying unsettled though and milder.

Agronomic Notes

Growth Windows…

I know we aren’t out of February quite yet but I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the last 7 weeks or so and see how growth has been and compare it with 2016. If we look at a straight GDD comparison for The Oxfordshire location this is how it looks ;

GDDJanFeb201617TheOx

So you can see that the 2017 and 2016 compare very similarly in terms of total GDD to date from January 1st, but the pattern of when this growth occurred is quite different. In 2016 we had pretty even growth spread across January and February, but in 2017 we had a much colder January and a much milder February.

I reckon it’ll turn out to be the mildest February since we started recording GDD back in 2010.

Let’s have a closer look at when exactly that growth occurred for this location 2017 vs. 2016 ;

GPJanFeb2016TheOx

So you can see in 2016 the main growth occurred at the start of January and February with very little after the mid-part of the month.

GPJanFeb2017TheOx

The pattern for 2017 is quite different with again that early January / early February growth but then the very pronounced growth spike that really started a week ago with that balmy / barmy Monday producing a daily G.P figure of 0.66 which is unheard of in my books for February.

To get it into perspective how different this type of growth is, in Spring 2016 we didn’t hit a daily G.P figure of 0.66 till the first week of May !

Using this to your advantage…..

I know a lot of you have been busy maximising the potential gain from this growth window whether it be aerating, topdressing (if ground conditions allow) and applying granular fertiliser. Most people are reporting an increase in clip yield over the last week which is allowing disease scars to grow in, worn areas to recover and the plant to be primed up going into potential aeration in March / April.

The simple fact is we have to throw the calendar out of the window nowadays and work to the conditions that Mother Nature and The Jetstream throw our way. We cannot afford to miss these windows and not gain maximum leverage from them if we are to continue presenting a good product for the end-user.

We also know this window may end up giving us a better potential for growth than possibly some weeks in March and April, it certainly did last year when we had cool nights and low G.P / GDD all through March and April 2016 making recovery from aeration / disease scarring a tricky affair for many. It’s a clear case of Tempus Fugit my friends…:)

Wind, humidity and disease…..

So we can see last week that we had some pretty mild night and day temperatures but to the best of my feedback and experience so far we didn’t see the onset of new disease outbreaks nor great flare ups on existing scars, so why was that ?

mcelium3

Let’s look at two different weeks and analyse the data, the first is the end of October 2016 where we saw very aggressive Microdochium nivale activity with widespread activity not just on greens, but on tees, approaches, fairways, lawns and sports pitches. The second is the week just gone, so February 2017, when we didn’t see the same effect.

Let’s look at the temperatures, where they different ?

AirtempOct2016Feb2017

Well not really, the day time temperatures were a little warmer back in October 2016 but the night time temperatures were if anything warmer this past week. So why didn’t we see disease activity ?

The answer is that the relative humidity, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere was much lower last week than it was at the end of October and the reason for that wasn’t rainfall but wind. At the end of October 2016 we had a high pressure sitting over us which diverted any wind up and over the U.K and Ireland so we had very little wind and hence drying effect on the grass leaf. It was humid and so the leaf sat wet and with mild overnight temperatures it was a perfect environment for fungal disease hence the images like the one above. Last week we had similar air temperatures but we were windy, in fact very windy so we had 7-8mm of E.T and that meant good drying conditions (between the rain / sleet), lower relative humidity and a drier leaf, the result, less disease.

You can see the relationship between wind strength and humidity on this graph of the two parameters taken from a weather station on an ‘open aspect’ golf course ;

WinRHThe Belfry

So you can see how the humidity dips when the wind strength increases, not all the time of course because sometimes high winds are pushing in rain, but most of the time. Once that Relative Humidity goes above 95% then we have a wet leaf and if that coincides with high night time temperatures then we have aggressive disease.

Wst200217

Last week the relative humidity sat below 90% even during the mild nights because of the strong wind aspect as you can see from this snap of my weather station taken last week at 22.06 p.m. (Disregard the inside temperature of 16°C I am a notoriously tight so and so with my central heating 🙂 )

So when you are doing tree work to increase air flow around a green for example, you can show them this information so golfers and the like can see why you are doing it, to give more light and lower the Relative Humidity by increasing air flow. Of course you links guys don’t have trees so you have good wind characteristics on most days (well ok too much most of the time) but one of the good flipsides from this is that your relative humidity will be much lower than an inland course and that’s one of the reaosns why your disease pressure is less, rejoice 🙂

Ok that’s it for now, see you in March…

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

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