Hi All,

Just back from a beautiful fly fishing break in Mexico, a cracking country to visit, rich in wildlife and lovely weather as well.

It was quite an amazing experience wading across the salt flats targetting Bonefish in such beautiful surroundings. At one stage I had a 5ft Barracuda sitting 10ft to my left, a Stingray in front of me and a Black Tip Shark swimming on my right, all of them no threat at all.

Mind you one evening I took a walk along the local beach and waded in to my knees to cool down and escape the ankle-nipping mozzies, only to glance behind and spot a ‘v’ pattern cutting the surface a few feet away, heading in my direction. I was promptly joined by a big Black Tip Shark that ambled up so close to me that I could touch it before it went about its business, amazing.

Chatting to my guides during the week they explained to me that their weather down on the Yucatan Peninsular has changed over the last 10 years with less reliable rainfall and more hurricanes at times of year when they didn’t use to appear.

In short their seasons are changing as well.

Whilst I was away sunning myself, I gather you picked up a pretty cold snap with some snowfall as well. Thanks to Craig for this picture from a bleak looking Ramside, Co. Durham. Quite a contrast, speaking of which I think we will experience one later this week when we change from a mild, south westerly airflow to a raw northerly one late on Thursday with more risk of snow again for the weekend for some I think.

General Weather Situation

So we kick off Monday with a pretty pleasant start to the week really, mild temperatures than of late, possibly pushing into double figures down south and dry as well on the whole apart from some risk of light rain over north west Scotland. Winds will be light to moderate and from the north west and they’ll be some light cloud cover and sunny intervals.

Tuesday sees pretty much a repeat of this weather situation with no risk of overnight frost and again a dry start to the day for most of the U.K and Ireland. The exception will be the north west of Scotland where rain will push in during the late afternoon and then cross country into more central areas of Scotland later on Tuesday evening. Down south and across the west we will be dry, with hazy sunshine and light to moderate westerly winds pushing temperatures close to double figures, normal for the time of year.

Overnight into Wednesday we see a rain front push into the west of Ireland crossing over into Leinster in time for the morning rush hour. By mid-morning this rain will be into the west of Scotland, north west England and then Wales by lunchtime and thereafter it’ll slowly move inland but principally the rain will affect the west side of the U.K on Wednesday, consolidating into heavier rain as we approach dusk. Overnight this rain will push inland clearing Scotland and Ireland as it does so to affect central and southern regions of the U.K as well through Wednesday night / Thursday morning. Milder still across Ireland and the west with low double figure / early teen temperatures in a strong south westerly wind. Milder temperatures compared to Tuesday for the U.K I think, maybe just pushing into the low double figures.

Overnight into Thursday we see the beginning of that change I referred to earlier, starting in Scotland with the wind swinging round to the north west to bring a raw feel to the day, much lower temperatures and the risk of snow showers.  Further south that overnight rain will still be with us so a wet start to Thursday for many and it may take till lunchtime for that rain to move away from the south and east of the U.K. Ireland should have a much drier day on Thursday but a raw one as temperatures drop in that keen, north westerly wind. So a cold, bright day here with lots of sunshine but an increasing risk of wintry showers as we approach dusk. A west / east split on Thursday with wintry showers likely to affect western coasts through the day, but further south and east, it’ll be sunny and dry once the rain has departed. The south will hang onto that mild air the longest, so a mild one across Central England with double figure temperatures likely, a marked contrast to Scotland which will barely make mid-single figures.

Closing out the week on Friday and overnight that cold air has spread its grip across all of the U.K with snow showers likely across Scotland, western coasts of England, Wales and The South West. A wintry feel across The Irish Sea as well with snow showers affecting western and north western coasts of Ireland overnight into Friday and that risk remaining through the day. A really bitter day on Friday up north with temperatures lucky to break into the very low single figures and feeling much colder in that biting wind. Further south we will be dry, dull and cold with a prominent north westerly wind in situ. Through the day that risk of wintry showers remains across Ireland, Scotland, the north west of England, Wales and possibly The Midlands as well, punctuated by some sunshine. A raw day for us all.

So with that change in the weather at the end of the week, how are we looking for the coming weekend ?

Well for most of us it looks like being a very cold, bright, sunny winter weekend with lots of sunshine but with a strong north westerly wind producing a real wind chill and pegging temperatures back on Saturday and Sunday to low single figures. They’ll be a risk of snow showers as well, more so along the western coast of Scotland, England and Wales, with some pushing down to lower levels on Sunday and more inland as well.

Weather Outlook

So more like traditional winter weather for the start of December, but will the cold snap continue I wonder ?

So next week looks to start quiet and frosty with a settled feel to Monday as that cold low pressure system moves off to the east. It doesn’t last though as we have a new Atlantic low set to push in and change the wind direction to the west and bring rain as well. Initially to the north and west on Tuesday but this will push further south and east on Wednesday to affect all areas accompanied by some very strong westerly winds.  So an unsettled week with strong winds and a slightly milder feel through mid-week before those winds switch to a more northerly aspect again and bring colder air down and so a heightened risk of wintry showers as we approach the end of next week.

Agronomic Notes

With this being the first blog of December we can look back at November and ascertain what kind of a month it was and more importantly how it compared to October.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – Thame Location

So first off we can see that November 2017 came in with a total months GDD figure of 67.5 which places it about average year-on-year and markedly higher than 2016.

Year-to-date we are comfortably up on any previous year so will definitely mark 2017 as the warmest year-to-date from a GDD perspective.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – UK Locations

Looking at the GDD / Rainfall data for 2017 we can see a pretty consistent picture in terms of temperature / growth for the different locations.

The contrast between Troon on the west coast of Scotland and Swansea on the south coast of Wales is striking in terms of total GDD with Troon at 41.6 and Swansea at 95.7, basically twice as much temperature in the Welsh location compared to the Scottish location.

Rainfall is again light for a winter month (as it was in October) in some locations with The Midlands and the south of England coming in driest at 37.5mm and 32.1mm for Northampton and Guilford respectively. I appreciate the north west and south west of England won’t be sharing my sentiments but I haven’t seen the rivers and reservoirs around here as low since winter 1975, the year before the drought of 1976.

If we don’t get significant rain here over the next 3 months then we will definitely be facing a drought order come the spring of 2018 and if you remember the last time this happened the golf industry wasn’t treated well at all.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – Irish Locations

For the Irish locations we see significant variability between locations in terms of total GDD for the month, with Dublin suprisingly coming in as the lowest GDD locationfor the month. (can’t think of that ever happening before?). Looking at the statistics from the Dublin location I can see very few dry days and so it looks to me like you had a cool, dull, wet month in November. Contrast this with Bray where they had nearly 50% more GDD and 36% of the rainfall of the Dublin location and you can see why being near the coast pays dividends sometimes. The west and south west of Ireland definitely picked up the milder weather in November with Valentia, Wexford and Cork the three highest GDD monthly totals. For Co. Mayo it wasn’t a great one, with low GDD and high rainfall, not nice for you chaps.

October – November 2017 Comparison – Growth and Disease Activity

Above is a graph showing the daily Growth Potential during October and November and straight away you can see the difference between the high daily totals during October and the much lower totals in November.

I believe that Microdochium nivale requires a minimum temperature for a set period to infect turf and furthermore I think that we typically hit this set of conditions during August, September and October. Once we reach November and temperatures drop away we no longer hit this minimum temperature for long enough to cause new infection of fine turf. (November 2015 was the exception to this though)

What we do see however is new activity around existing scars because it is in this area where we have established a high population earlier in the autumn and so it doesn’t need sustained temperature to increase the population level.

Below is a schematic of a disease scar where the original infection started in October 2016 and we then saw 3 successive periods after this when new activity around the original infection site occurred and the disease scar grew outwards as a result.

These periods of activity occurred in December 2016, February 2017 and March 2017.

This year we again saw disease scarring in October 2017 and new activity around existing scars in November 2017. What I don’t believe we have seen is new infection in November 2017 unless you guys and girls care to tell me different 🙂

The problem we face is that once we have an established disease scar the only real fungicides that stopped this becoming active again are either no longer available (Prochloraz / Tebuconazole combination) or shortly to become no longer available (Iprodione) and this is why it is going to be so important come autumn 2018 to have our ducks in a row with respect to disease prevention.

Ok that’s all for this week, onto a very long things-to-do-list with a fair dose of jet lag to boot 🙁

All the best….

Mark Hunt