January 15th

Hi All,

I’m pretty sure today is ‘Blue Monday’, claimed to be the most depressing day of the year but also a cracking track by New Order, a real toe tapper if ever I heard one….Looking out it’s still pitch dark, the rain is coming down steadily and for sure it’s a gloomy one but I can think of worse days than this.  As predicted we are entering a trough pattern in the jet stream that is pulling in a big, deep, cold and narly low pressure and that’s going to return us to winter this week particularly this coming weekend. Don’t worry though I don’t think it’ll last…..(famous last words eh..)

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts with a rain front sitting across East Anglia / South of England and another one moving across Wales, The South West and the north of England. We also have some more showery weather across Ireland and Scotland to start the week so yes a little bit grim like. Through the morning the rain will move eastwards across the U.K and Ireland and we will start to see the presence of colder air over Scotland as those rain showers will turn increasingly to snow over higher elevations. Now it’ll feel mild today, particularly in the south and west with a westerly wind pushing mild air across Ireland, central and southern regions but across Scotland that very strong westerly wind will have a raw edge to it. Going through to the afternoon we see a continuation of that wet weather perhaps with a clear spell across the spine of England but the wintry showers will spread south across The Borders and into northern England as we go into the evening. A mild, windy day then with plenty of rain but ‘enjoy’ those temperatures which may hit double figures down south and across Ireland because we are in for some raw weather later in the week / weekend.

Overnight into Tuesday we see a continuation of that wet weather across western and central Scotland, north west England, north west Ireland and North Wales. Those showers will increasingly have a wintry feel to them. Further south and east it’ll be a clear start to the day but we’ll see plenty of wintry showers pushing across Ireland, Wales and possibly pushing into The Midlands later in the morning. A much cooler feel to the weather with that strong, westerly wind in situ and temperatures a good 4-5°C lower than Monday making it feel raw with a capital ‘R’. So the bulk of the wintry showers likely across Ireland, Scotland, the north west and central parts of northern England, Wales and The South West with central and eastern areas of England and north eastern Scotland missing the worst I think. With a strong westerly wind in place though there’s always a chance for showers to move inland I think. Much colder as mentioned earlier with 3-5°C the norm in that strong, cold, westerly wind.

Wednesday sees us start clear across Scotland and the north of England as the bulk of the showers have sunk south overnight into The Midlands, Wales and southern England. Ireland will still see plenty of wintry showers across The Midlands and north of the country extending into Northern Ireland. Through the morning we will see more wintry showers move into western Scotland, north west England, mid and North Wales. South and east of this, it’ll be a much brighter day, clear skies with plenty of sun but it’ll feel raw. Through the second part of Wednesday we will see those westerly winds turn milder across Ireland pushing temperatures into double figures through Wednesday night. This milder air will push eastwards to push temperatures up through Wednesday night into Thursday across most of the U.K. That mild air will be associated with rain which will move into Ireland from the west after dusk and quickly move eastwards across the country, across The Irish Sea and into Wales overnight pushed along by gale force westerly winds which could cause damage.

Thursday sees that rain move across the U.K early doors to leave a clearing picture by dawn except for a band of wintry showers down the spine of England extending up from the north Midlands to The Borders. They’ll still be some scattered wintry showers across the north and east of Ireland on elevated ground and across North Wales. Through the morning we will see rain move into the west of Ireland and the west coast of the U.K extending up from The South West all the way to north west Scotland. Again we will see a mix of rain, sleet and snow depending on elevation. That mild air passes with the rain so once you’ve seen this move through early on Thursday we will see the temperature drop through the day with clearing skies, hence the reason for the wintry showers. Come Thursday evening that rain over Ireland will turn increasingly wintry and although the south and east will be clear, we will see a continuation of wintry showers across the higher ground of Wales, the north west of England and western Scotland. Temperature-wise after a mild start (overnight) expect to see 5-7°C as the norm and winds will be moderate to gale force in the early hours and late into Thursday night.

Closing out the week we have a dynamic weather picture with strong westerly winds pulling round to the north west through Friday and that’ll knock the temperatures down even further with a pronounced windchill. A similar picture on Friday as we have seen for most of the week, that is Ireland, the west coast of Scotland, The North West, Wales and The South West feature as the areas most affected by a combination of wintry showers throughout the day. Further south and east I think we will be sunny and dry but very cold with a pronounced windchill. These wintry showers will affect the above areas most of the day on and off and later on another batch moves into north east Scotland and drifts down the east coast of the U.K. Real Brass Monkeys weather on Friday even where you are dry with nearly a negative windchill for most of the day…wrap up well and make sure you take a neck warmer / buff with you, invaluable I find, here’s my favourite one 🙂

Ok so how are we looking for the weekend knowing that some of us will be en route to Harrogate ?

Well Saturday looks fine really after clearing skies across the vast % of the U.K and Ireland on Friday night will likely give us a ground frost first thing. The outlook for Saturday looks dry, cold and bright with a really cold north westerly wind in situ, feeling milder across the west as a warmer air front pushes in. Late on Saturday night we see a return of rain, sleet and snow to the south west of Ireland but everywhere elese I think will have a dry, cold night with another frost. Sunday again looks a pretty dry day. cold in central and northern areas, slightly milder across Ireland and the west. There’s a slight risk of rain across The South West early on Sunday but this should clear through the morning if it actually reaches you. So another pleasant day, cold but crucially dry so no problem getting too and around Harrogate me thinks.

Weather Outlook

So after another blast of winter how are we looking for BTME week ?

Well first off I think we should be fine for snow and ice because from Monday we pick up a south westerly air stream courtesy of a new low pressure system that will come in to play next week. So I think a little milder next week, remaining pretty windy and some pronounced pulses of rain which will push in from the south west and move up country. Monday, Wednesday and the end of the week from Thursday onwards look to be some of the wettest periods of weather but as mentioned above, this moisture will be south west-orientated rather than north west so you guys will get a bit of a break from heavy rain (not saying it won’t rain it’s just you won’t be in the direct firing line as you are this week). I think we will be mid, high-single figures so better than this week and we will be windy for sure.

Agronomic Notes

BTME, Harrogate Weather Link

Ok first off please find the link for Headland Weathercheck for BTME, Harrogate here

Netatmo Weather Station Review and PWS’s

Now I know I promised this feature before Christmas but I’ve been doing some additional work on linking the weather station into the Weather Underground network because I found the Netatmo backend software system pretty unreliable. The weather station itself has worked faultlessly since last August, but I want to find a more user friendly way of looking at the data, particularly historically.

Linking your Personal Weather Station (PWS) to a weather network is a pretty recent development and it’s fair to say that it’s still a work in progress however the advantages are that you are able to view your current and historical data in a comprehensive manner and this allows transposing of data into GDD / G.P calculations a much easier job. Last week I found some new software that works with the Netamo weather station specifically and seems to provide a much more reliable link. Here’s my data so far so you can see what’s available (note I don’t have a wind gauge currently because I have nowhere to mount it and I’m not going up a ladder for awhile)

So you can see (hopefully) you get a tabulated summary view of your data showing minimum and maximum air temperature (which we need for GDD and G.P calculations) and you get daily rainfall totals as well alongside humidity, pressure and if I had it, wind speed. You simply enter the air temperature data into our GDD / G.P spreadsheet and the GDD and G.P readings are calculated automatically. (Note the spreadsheet is available here)

Going forward I think we will be become more reliant on this type of data to make accurate application decisions particularly those related to pesticides like PGR’s and fungicides. Working from the calendar will I think become less and less reliable…

Using Weather Slots..

Talking of not working from the calendar I think this time of year can be perfect for gaining a head start into spring from a plant nutrition pespective. Now granted we don’t have much in the way of GDD’s or G.P’s but we do have some and taking advantage of them through January and February could reap benefits when we come into spring time proper getting you ahead of the game.

If we take a look at our Meteoturf module on Headland Weathercheck for the coming week we will probably see something like this if you are in Ireland, Wales and England (but not Scotland I’ll grant you)

So you can see Monday, Thursday and next Monday show a small amount of growth whether it’s described by GDD or G.P. What’s important about this type of growth at this time of year is that with daylight levels being low (because days are shorter), the grass plant is less likely to be able to flush and produce soft growth. In turn we know that whilst leaf shoot growth kicks off from 6°C air temperature upwards, but we also know the grass plant is developing roots really anywhere up from freezing (how many times have you put a turf down in the middle of winter to see new white roots emerging even though it hasn’t put on any top growth ?). So I think we are more likely to see good root development and more lateral rather than upright growth during the early part of the year as a result of applied nutrition.

We know also that these short windows of growth during January and February are almost a permanent feature of our weather now and that March, but in particular April can be quite problematic in terms of generating consistent growth.

I mention April because for 7 years out of the last 10, it has been a very difficult month for grass growth, often it is dry, often with warm days but cold nights, so the actual growth potential is limited. Dovetail that in with high moisture loss through high Evapotranspiration (E.T) and you could almost discount it as a consistent growth month. Here’s the rainfall vs. E.T stats for April 2017 at our Thame, Oxfordshire location…

You can see what I mean in terms of lack of moisture presenting an issue from a growth perspective. It isn’t just moisture that can be growth-limiting in April, we also have a nasty habit of picking up late frosts with the same location recording 7 frosts during April 2017 and 4 of them in the last week of the month.

If we look at the pattern of growth as denoted by G.P last spring at the same location you can see quite clearly peaks of active growth in January and February…

If we look at the G.P totals for the month, they make interesting reading ;

Month                         Total G.P recorded – Location – The Oxfordshire, Thame – 2017

January                              1.89

February                            5.33

March                               10.79

April                                   9.34

So we can see January and February combined generated 67% of the growth of March and 77% of the growth of April. If I also tell you that the last two weeks of February produced the same amount of growth (from a G.P perspective) as the last two weeks of April, you can hopefully see the value of using early season windows.

So taking advantage of the growth on offer in January and February should perhaps be one of our adapatative strategies to our changing climate from a plant nutrition perspective. It’s not necessarily a case of extra nutrition either because if the greens come into the spring with better grass cover, there’s less of a need to apply as much nutrition come March or (God help us) April…

Type of nutrition – Granular or Liquid ?

I tend to think that granular nutrition is more effective for this period of the year than liquid because we tend to have higher rainfall levels early on in the year so applying a liquid may be problematic (getting to and onto the greens with a heavy sprayer for example) vs. a pedestrian spreader and your lightest crew member (ahahaha). Granular nutrition (of the right type) is also usually more leach resistant ~(than a liquid) and so provides more of a longer-term benefit to the grass plant with one early in the year application often carrying through to March no problem.

Moss

You can also kill two birds with one stone at this time of year by using a granular formulation high in iron and in so doing knocking back the ever-present moss populations visible in many swards. I was out walking yesterday across the fields of Leicestershire and I couldn’t help but note how much moss was visible on pasture land, even though some of it was recently drained. Without a doubt the low light and higher rainfall conditions of November through to the end of February firmly tip the growth balance in favour of this species.

Disease Activity

I got quite a few reports of Microdochium nivale on the move last week despite the fact that the air temperatures were nothing to shout about really. If you look at my Netatmo weather station stats at the very beginning of this section of the blog, you can see that the humidity sat at 100% for pretty much all of last week due to the absence of any drying wind and that I think was one of the main drivers. Hopefully with the colder conditions of this week it shouldn’t develop much though it’s worth keeping an eye on it when we have these short, mild spells…

Ok that’s it for this week.

All the best

Mark Hunt

 

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