Hi All,

Only a month to go to the shortest day and then we are on the way back to summer :). I always think it is kind of bizarre that we reach mid-winter before we normally receive any cold weather and mid-summer in June before the hottest weather arrives ?.

Thanks to everyone for coming along to the GCMA Conference to listen to my talk, a great venue at Mercedes World (thanks Bob and Jennie) and to the BIGGA South East Regional Seminar at Writtle College, another great venue and well-organised Kerry 🙂

So a very different feel to the weather this Monday after successive Monday morning frosts. As forecast we now have a mild, south westerly airstream in place and that means, mild, wet and windy is the outlook for the next week or so. Unwelcome the rain may be in some places but here in The Midlands, we need rain, as our reservoirs are currently below summer level with Rutland Water, 5ft down. That’s a lot of water required to get where we need to be before 2018.

BarraJust before I move onto the weather, there won’t be a blog next week as I’m off on my travels, this time to Mexico, saltwater fly fishing on the flats and in the Mangrove swamps for Bonefish, Tarpon and those toothy critters, Barracuda. I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of the Lemon Sharks and Saltwater Crocs and other wildlife, but at a respectful distance of course with the former. I’m kind of looking forward to it 🙂

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a much milder airstream in place and you’ll feel the difference as soon as you step out of the door, mild and windy like. No surprise then that we have some rain around, some of it heavy across Scotland and western coasts. We also have some showers inland crossing Ireland and down in the south east as well. Through the morning we will see rain cross Ireland and Scotland, pushing down into northern England and across Wales before moving inland. The majority of the rain will be north and west-orientated with that northern rain mass oer Scotland persisting for the entire day I am afraid. Cool here as well as you hang onto the colder weather whereas across Ireland, Wales and England it’ll feel very mild for the time of year with temperatures in the low to mid-teens buoyed by a strong to moderate westerly / south westerly wind. That north / south temperature divide will be a feature of the week.

Onto Tuesday and again we see a north / south divide with a very strong rain front pushing into Scotland overnight and falling as sleet and snow over higher elevations. This rain front has its origin in south west Ireland so stretches across Ireland diagonally and then up across northern England and Scotland. South of this we will stay dry (and dull)  most of the morning before that rain begins to push south in the afternoon into Wales and The Midlands for the 2nd part of the day.  The east / south-east may indeed miss all of this and therefore have a dry and dull day. Again we have that dichotomy of temperatures with Scotland cool and into the mid to high- single figures. Further south and west, it’ll be similar to Monday across Ireland, Wales and England, so low  to mid-teens is possible and with a moderate to strong westerly / south westerly wind.

Mid-week already and again an unsettled picture but Scotland looks to get a bit of a break with the rain forecast to affect south west Ireland, Wales and northern England initially as dawn breaks. Through Wednesday morning that rain will consolidate into heavier downpours with flooding likely across The South West, Wales and north west England. Again, east of this rain, it’ll be dull and possibly feature some light rain, whilst Ireland will see further rain in the afternoon, possibly more western and centrally-orientated. Scotland looks to stay mainly dry during the daylight hours on Wednesday. As we approach dusk that heavy rain across north west England and Wales begins to creep inland across northern England and The West Midlands. By nightfall we will see more rain across Ireland and pushing into Scotland whilst that heavier rain down south pushes slowly eastwards. Very mild again with low to mid-teen temperatures likely in that strengthening and gusty south westerly wind.

Overnight into Thursday and that main rain front passes eastwards and clears into The North Sea overnight to see us start the day with a reasonably dry picture, except for Scotland where we will see a continuation of wintry showers across Central Scotland. A chance to see the sun on Thursday morning as well. So dry, mild and sunny during the morning for most areas, except Scotland, but by the afternoon we will see rain pushing into The South West and Wales and this will quickly cross eastwards. At the same time we are likely to see rain across north Connacht and Donegal but for the rest of Ireland a much brighter and mild, drying day. That rain over the south of the U.K and wintry showers over Scotland fizzles out as we approach dusk to leave some isolated rain fronts affecting The Lakes and that’s about it, so a dry (ish) picture going into Friday.  Again very mild with mid-teens likely across Ireland, Wales and England, but single figures I am afraid for Scotland.

Closing out the week and I’ll be packing for warmer climes hopefully. Weather-wise, Friday sees a dry and much cooler start for all of the U.K and Ireland but it doesn’t last as almost immediately a front of heavy rain is projected to push into southern England through the morning pushing north and eastwards into The Midlands and East Anglia. Further west across Ireland and north across northern England and Scotland, a dry, settled day until the afternoon when rain will push northwards into northern England. Lighter winds on Friday will actually spell a cooler feel to the weather with temperatures a good 3-4°C down on the previous day across England, Ireland and Wales. As we close out Friday that rain front over southern and northern England consolidates to bring heavy rain for all of England and Wales with some of those showers turning wintry across The Pennines as we come under the influence of a more northerly airstream.

So how does the weekend look ?

Well cold that’s what as we pick up a more northerly airstream and this will turn those showers more wintry in nature with more consolidated rain over the southern half of the U.K on Saturday. So I think wet and cold across southern England but drier and frosty across Scotland and the north of England with a cold northerly wind in charge. Ireland I think will be dry on Saturday but appreciably cooler than of late for all of us, except perhaps the far south of England which will hang onto a milder airstream longest. So a wet start, clearing to leave a dry, cold picture for most of us on Saturday and Sunday I think we continue that cold theme with frost likely in bright, dry conditions for Wales, England and Ireland. Scotland in contrast will be cool, dull and possibly wet on Sunday, a real raw day I think.

Weather Outlook

Hmmm this is an interesting weather outlook because if Unisys are right we will be locked into an eastern low pressure system next week after initially starting mild. Now there’s always a caveat with the weather isn’t there and each time this autumn / winter I’ve seen this projected, the low has been moved eastwards and we have retained high rather than low pressure. This time I’m not so sure although it has to be said that projections differ for next week, some are with a more northerly airstream, some more westerly.

So next Monday I think we will be very windy and very wet starting off across Scotland but quickly affecting the rest of the U.K and Ireland. A gale force, westerly wind is likely initially. By Tuesday that low pressure is sitting east of us and so it’ll be drawing down some very cold air in a northerly airflow. If this happens I’d expect wintry showers will become more likely particularly across eastern coasts. Not particularly wet after the early part of the week but cold and showers pushed down on a northerly airstream in-between we will see some nice winter sunshine but it’ll feel raw with a capital ‘R’.  It should be noted that again we will have a high pressure system out west of us in The Atlantic so this will try to nudge in and push the low eastwards. Time will tell which one will dominate but currently it looks like the low pressure will throughout next week, it’s just a question of whether it’ll have a northerly or westerly component.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

141117temphumLast week we picked up  some mild night time temperatures accompanied by high humidity as this screen shot from my trusty (so far) Netatmo Weather Station shows with 10.6°C and 98% humidity at 21.43 p.m. Curiously we also saw a similar peak last November at the same time.

Not surprisingly I noted disease activity associated with these favourable climatic conditions but mainly around the edges of areas previously infected rather than new infection sites.

I wonder if this is consistent with what you saw, i.e. activity around existing scars rather than new outbreaks of disease ?

Please feel free to feed back to me if at all possible.


If we look at the coming week we have a repeat of these conditions with several mild nights forecast and with unsettled weather, it’s no surprise that we will also have some high humidity levels as well.

The difference this week compared to last week will be the level of wind with a much windier week forecast. I wonder if this will make a difference ?


So above is my location’s weather forecast for this week in terms of minimum temperature (in orange columns) and relative humidity (blue line).

If we look at this more closely we can see periods of high projected air temperature and high humidity and it is these that could very easily cause activity from a Microdochium perspective. (Although I’d also expect other diseases like Red Thread to put in an appearance on high Ryegrass / Fescue swards and don’t rule out Superficial Fairy Ring because it is often active at low temperature)

I have marked the periods in red columns when I expect disease pressure to be highest this week…


Please feel free to feedback to me if this does or doesn’t transpire to be the case in terms of disease activity and whether it is on new or existing areas.

Silver Thread Moss (and bad nails)


In the picture above you can see the familiar ‘bowl’ shape of Silver Thread Moss (STM) and this along with its hydrophobicity makes it such a hard opponent to tackle when it comes to control.

Before though you do consider applying a product to control moss I always think you also need to consider why it is there in the first place because sometimes we are guilty of tackling the symptom rather than the cause.

Sometimes the cause can be due to accumulated fibre on the surface or poor rootzone characteristics causing water to be perched in the surface and thereby providing an ideal environment for moss to flourish.

In other cases it may be the exact opposite reason, where it occurs on areas of fine turf which are subject to droughting out and so loss of grass cover provides ‘voids’ in the sward for new moss to establish. I’ve said it before but STM can withstand high temperatures and levels of dessication even compared to the hardiest of grass species so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see it appear on thin stands of turf that are subject to dessication.

I remember a wetting agent trial I ran in 2006, we had a very hot August and after subjecting the plots to low irrigation levels I then turned the water off and not surprisingly noted grass stress in > 30°C temperature. In-between the patches of stressed grass I could see little green specks and on examination found out that they were colonies of Silver Thread Moss growing quite happily alongside bleached Poa annua and Bentgrass. A bit of an eye opener that was.

So it’s worth looking at where STM is occurring and then having a good think about whether you can change the environment it is growing in, to tip the balance away from it and towards healthier grass growth.

Speaking of tipping the balance, it is this period of the year, from November through to the end of February when I always think that the balance tips in favour of moss species (and Liverwort for that matter) when we have periods of low light and moisture. That’s why I think raising fertility (gently) mid-winter isn’t such a bad idea as it encourages healthier grass growth whenever we have a window and thereby tips the balance back towards grass and away from moss and the like.  If you are considering treatment with a chemical, it is 100% the case that moss must be fully-wetted up before you apply. It’s no good using high water volumes to try and achieve this because moss and Liverwort are hydrophobic when they are dry so they’ll do a great job of resisting water ingression. Even if you sprayed at 1,000L per hectare water volume it’s only the equivalent to putting 100ml of water across a m2 and that isn’t a lot in my books and certainly insufficient to wet up something like Silver Thread Moss.

Better then to let Mother Nature do the work for you and then follow with an application when it has done so.

Ok that’s it for this week, I have a long things-to-do-list to clear and some packing to be done before shipping out. Catch you on the flipside in early December hopefully 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt