Hi All,

Sorry for the delay in posting this week’s blog, unavoidable family matters I’m afraid.

Hereby marks my last blog of another interesting year in our industry.

As a number of you will know I do a lot of talks (maybe too many eh?) and although I’m sure it seems a recurring theme to some, our climate and the effects of current legislation stand out to me as the two biggest challenges to our profession. Of course communication, budgets and recognition of the job in hand aren’t far behind either. Going forward we will continue to see the impact of product withdrawals and our ever-changing-climate on turf management and yes they present a challenge, but one I feel we can meet with a reasonable degree of confidence. Continuing my optimistic tone…

As we can see from this dusk shot using Sunseeker Pro, today’s arc of the sun shown in yellow and that of the shortest day (obscured but in light blue) are practically indistinguishable so that means shortly the sun will begin rising higher in the horizon as we look forward to spring. I know you don’t really notice until the end of January / February, but to me it’s more a mental yardstick than anything else 🙂

My other yardstick is when the screen on my TomTom turns from daylight to night time display, currently it’s around 15.40 p.m and still getting earlier but that’ll change soon. When you spend a good proportion of your life on the M40 / M25 / A14, you get plenty of time to notice these things you know because let’s face it, you’re not going anywhere fast 🙂

So how are looking weather-wise on the run up to Christmas and beyond ? Will I be basking in the accumulated financial glory of fleecing Paddy Power on my White Christmas bets or will the boot be on the other foot ? (again)

General Weather Situation

So we finish Tuesday and start Wednesday with high pressure (unusually) feeding mild air into the north and west of the U.K / Ireland. Scotland and Ireland have already felt the effect of the change in temperature with the west of Ireland and north of Scotland up in the mid-teens today, whereas some of us sat in freezing fog and barely mid-single figure digits on the temperature dial. That mild air continues its march south and east through the night so Tuesday night will be the first for many days when we are pretty much frost-free I think.

Wednesday sees a band of light rain push into the north west of Ireland overnight and move south east, fizzling out as it does so by dawn it’ll be mainly thick cloud and drizzle. So a cloudy day beckons on Wednesday for us all with perhaps some light rain moving across Ireland during the afternoon and into North Wales, but for most it’ll be dull, dry and feeling much milder. It never fails to surprise me when you have a long spell of cold weather how suddenly 7°C feels positively tropical as your body has acclimatised itself to the cold. So not a bad day all in all, maybe a glimpse of the sun here and there, more so across the east coast of the U.K I think, but dry and feeling much milder with a light to moderate, westerly wind in situ.

Mild overnight into Thursday sees us start the day close to double figures across most of the U.K and Ireland, quite a change from the -2’s and -3’s of late. It’ll be role reversal for Scotland though as colder air makes an appearance on Thursday so a bright, chilly day here. Further south and west we will a horizontal band of showers moving across the west and Midlands (of Ireland), Wales, the north of England and The Midlands (of England) pushing into East Anglia by lunchtime. In-between these showers they’ll be some bright spells of sunshine as well. Feeling nice and mild as well with double figure temperatures (just). Through the day that cold air across Scotland will sink south so a cooler night for sure on Thursday. I think we’ll see a frost for Scotland and the north of England but The Midlands south should be frost-free.

Closing out the week we see heavy rain move into the west of Ireland late on Thursday night and this will then cross Ireland overnight so a dull and damp start to Friday here. For the U.K it’ll be a dry start, bright across the east and central areas and feeling much cooler after the milder temperatures of mid-week. There’s a chance of mist and fog early I think because winds will be light and from the west. As we progress through the day we will see a band of cloud push into the west coast of England, Scotland and Wales and move eastwards. So milder across Ireland, Wales and The South West under that cloud, but cooler across the north and east where it’ll be bright but chilly.

Onto Christmas Saturday and then Christmas Eve on Sunday….

Well Saturday doesn’t look half bad really with strengthening south west / westerly winds.  Wind it seems will be a feature of the Christmas week this year in more ways than the usual one ( “I think I will pass on the Brussells and Red Cabbage thanks Mum” :P) Mild temperatures into double figures with quite a bit of sunshine as well for central and southern regions, so if like me you’re doing the last (first) of your Christmas shopping, it won’t be a bad day to do it on. (Actually I’ll be running or MTB’ing because I’m not going to waste the day tramping around the shops). It won’t be great everywhere because across Scotland and the north of England, you can expect it to be duller and with more than a drop of rain as well I’m afraid despite it feeling milder than Friday. Dull with thick cloud across Ireland as well, thick enough for some light rain on and off through the day, but remaining mild here as well with temperatures pushing up towards the low teens. Through the day we will see the wind strengthening from the west. As we approach dusk we will see a band of heavier rain push into the north west of Scotland move south overnight into Donegal, Connacht and the north west of England.

So Christmas Eve looks like being an extremely wet one for some with that band of rain stretching horizontally from Shannon across Northern Ireland into north west England / Scotland. Across Ireland, Wales and England it’ll be a good bit windier with strong westerly winds in situ. Westerly winds usually means mild and that’s the way it looks for Christmas Eve with temperatures up into the low teens for most of us except areas affected by that rain where it’ll only be mid to high single figures. As we progress through the day and towards one of my mum’s truly legendary Danish Christmas Eve dinners (whereupon I will commence the annual battle with my brother over my fair share of the crackling) , we will see that rain push across Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the north and south west of England. Further south and east it’ll stay dry for the remainder of the day and mild. By the evening that rain will have intensified across Ireland (west and central particularly), Scotland, the north west of England and North Wales.

Christmas Day looks cooler, blustery and wet across the west and north with some of those showers drifting south and east through the day. Feeling cooler as we go through the day but not cool enough I fear for any of the white stuff though it’ll be close up north….bah humbug Paddy Power, missed it by a week…So the second half of Christmas Day looks very windy and pretty wet, so if you’re up for a quick trot before calorific Armageddon, I’d get out early.

Christmas to New Year…

Well the theme for Christmas week as intimated above is extremely windy and I’m afraid pretty wet as well with rain pushing across the U.K and Ireland through Boxing Day. This rain may fall as wintry showers across the higher elevations of Scotland and that windy and wet theme will continue through the week perhaps relenting a bit on Thursday with a change in wind direction to the north west. It won’t last for long though because by Friday we will locked back into a windy and wet, westerly theme. Sorry if it is not the news you wanted Santa to bring you for the Christmas week but I can only tell you what I thinks coming, I can’t change it….

Agronomic Notes

2018 GDD / G.P Spreadsheet

First off if you’re looking to record your temperature and rainfall data in 2018, Paul has updated the GDD / G.P spreadsheet and you can download it here

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Paul for reliably creating the Unisys GIF every week that you see at the start of my blog even when he was away on hols. Cheers matey. Thanks also to Wendy for converting weather stats into our monthly GDD spreadsheet and to Aine for supplying data for Ireland. All much appreciated by me.

Ta very much

I’d also like to say thanks to everyone that contributes their monthly weather stats from the U.K and Ireland. It really helps me to build a picture of what is going on out there from a weather and agronomic perspective and hopefully you see the value in the use of the data and graphs that I generate on this blog.

It began 4 years ago in trying to understand how far behind we were growth-wise in spring 2013 vs. the previous year using GDD as a measurement and it’s grown from there.

Quite some journey and we aren’t finished yet.

Looking forward I think we will be using either GDD or G.P data rather than days, weeks or months , more and more to make management decisions and in so doing have more of an understanding where we are from a product working efficacy and longevity perspective. None more so than with systemic fungicides me thinks…

A quick look back at the autumn…

I thought it would be interesting to compare the last four months of 2017 with the same for 2016. I had to estimate the G.P from forecasted data for the last days of this month as time travel still eludes me….

The two graphs below show the daily Growth Potential from September to year end for 2016 and 2017 and I’ve circled periods which were associated with Microdochium nivale activity. The difference in terms of number of peak periods and the severity is I think clear to see, particularly in October year-on-year.

It is also interesting that the peaks in November and December occurred over very similar date ranges in 2017 and 2016.

In terms of total G.P, the total amount of growth as measured by Growth Potential from September to the end of December in 2017 was 52.84 vs. 46.34 in 2016, that’s a 14% increase. Looking closer you can see October was the game changing month this year, far far warmer than the same month last year  (an eye-opening 74% !) for this location and that’s what drove growth of both disease populations and grass itself. So if you spent more money on diesel in October this year, you can easily justify why…..

So yes disease has been more severe this year and we have had a period of extended snow cover to boot recently, mighty unusual for the U.K and Ireland and the first I think since 2010 ?

Dry greens with less disease-favourable microclimates are getting more disease later into the year….

I’ve been noticing this for awhile now but if I had a pound for every course manager / superintendent that has said to me that they sometimes see more disease on their drier greens (or drier areas of greens) than they do on their typical microclimate greens, I’d be a rich chappy and ready to retire. (no comments please)

I’m pretty sure I know the reason why but I want to present some science and data to reinforce the above observation and that needs a little time yet. It’s certainly not an argument though for winter irrigation and giving up on aeration just yet 🙂 You tend to see a similar trend when we come out of winter and get the first spring flush in terms of where disease occurs and where it doesn’t.

Next autumn we won’t have Iprodione….

We now know that for autumn 2018 and beyond we will be without the contact curative fungicide, Iprodione, with a use-up-date of the beginning of June 2018.

The official CRD notice of withdrawal is available here

Of course this is old news to a certain extent but confirmation of the use-up-date means that we will enter next years period of peak disease activity without this A.I and as I have commented in previous blogs, that’s a game changer. That said I know plenty of end-users who have come through this autumn with little scarring and have not used Iprodione so it’s not the end of the world either.

To me change is an opportunity as well as a challenge……

Spray Windows

It’s getting pretty late in the day but Wednesday and Thursday represent pretty good spray windows in some areas with good upward-trending temperatures for uptake and light wind levels. I know we have rain coming in but it isn’t everywhere and if you need to go, you need to go…Those upward trending temperatures may also trigger some more activity around existing scars for a short period leading up to Christmas Day.


Ok that’s it for me for 2017….thanks to everyone for their contributions, feedback and comments.

May I wish you a relaxing Christmas break and all the best for the coming year…

Mark Hunt