Monthly Archives: December 2018

December 10th


Hi All,

As we sit barely two weeks from Christmas (must start to think about it I guess 🙁 ), thoughts turn towards the prospect of a White Christmas after many headlines suggest we are expecting a cold, easterly air flow for a while. The weather presenter on Countryfile got it right last night when he said that they really didn’t know which side of the weather coin we’d get come next weekend, easterly or westerly, at least he was honest. My hunch is firmly on westerly and a wet one at that. So there we have it again, sitting 5 days out and not really knowing the type of weather we are going to get, that just about sums up the accuracy of weather forecasting when we have a complex weather picture. (Two competing weather systems)

My hedgepiglets are still feeding up, keen to pack on weight before winter sets in, in earnest. One of them obviously hasn’t been weaned by his mum who is now hibernating because he was walking around in the day (never a good sign). A quick meal and some puppy milk soon had him in better shape and I placed him in a nice and snug Hedgehog house at the end of the garden. They’ll hibernate just before the real winter weather starts so when these chaps disappear I’ll know what is around the corner  🙂

OK, onto the forecast and an outlook that takes us 5 days before Christmas so this time next week we will know how the Christmas period is looking.

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with a pretty dry picture everywhere with just a few showers feeding off The Mersey and a patch of rain over South Leinster that is due to move off shortly. Monday to me looks the best day to get on and spray if that’s what you’re looking to do because wind speeds are low and rainfall likelihood likewise. A dull day on the whole with just some sunshine likely across the eastern coast line of the U.K, otherwise dull and mainly dry is the synopsis. Those showers feeding off The Mersey will move diagonally inland into The Midlands in a narrow band, but that’s the only area likely to see some rain. The winds will be light to moderate and from the north-west but it’ll feel cooler than of late with temperatures down in the mid to high single figures.

Now there’s a real west-east divide likely at the beginning of this week so if you are sitting over in the west, across Ireland, you can expect a southerly, milder airstream. Here I’d expect temperatures up in the low double figures as you come under the influence of an Atlantic air stream.

Onto Tuesday and a similar day in terms of dullness and plenty of cloud cover for many. An overnight change to a south-easterly wind will mean thicker cloud for eastern and central areas but crucially remaining dry. That west-east split comes into play as Kerry sees some rain push in around lunchtime and this is set to move across country through the afternoon / evening. This band of rain will make landfall across The South West early on Tuesday evening and then push into Wales, the west of England, Scotland overnight into Wednesday covering the whole of the U.K by the early hours. Temperature-wise for Tuesday we see that west-east divide again with double figures or close across Ireland but down in mid-single figures for the U.K in that cooler, continental, south-easterly airflow.

For Wednesday we see that band of rain projected to sit over central and eastern areas by dawn with Ireland and the west of the U.K starting off dry as that rain clears eastwards. Through the course of the morning that rain begins to lighten and break down into showers that will sit across central and eastern parts all through the day, intensifying in some areas as we approach dusk. So a dry day for Ireland, the west and most of Wales but as you move eastwards you pick up more cloud and rain. Remaining chilly in that moderate south-easterly wind with temperatures not much to write home about really, firmly rooted as they are in mid-single figures, maybe a degree or two higher for Ireland.

Overnight into Thursday and we see another band of heavy rain moving across Ireland and pushing into Wales and The South West around dawn. Where we have lingering moisture from Wednesday you can expect to see some wintry showers across elevation in Northern England and Scotland first thing. This rain band will be slow-moving and at present it is only projected to move into western and central areas in a line stretching from The South East across to North Wales. That may change. So through the afternoon it’ll clear southern counties of Ireland and fizzle out as it encounters that wind and weather system from the east. A mucky weather day on all accounts on Thursday, wet for the west and some thick cloud and wintry showers around for the north, east and Scotland. Feeling even cooler on Thursday with a pronounced south-easterly windchill for the U.K, but for Ireland you’ll already be picking up that slightly milder westerly wind so maybe a degree or two higher.

Onto Friday and the end of the week and those wintry showers are set to persist over Scotland overnight. Ireland unfortunately picks up another band of heavy rain overnight which will cover most of the country by the time dawn arrives. Across The Irish Sea that rain will already be tip-toeing into The South West at dawn and through the morning will push up into Wales and Central England. It will be heavy in places. With all this cloud and rain around it is no surprise that it will be dull with plenty of cloud cover, particularly along eastern coasts. By lunchtime this slow-moving rain front will still be affecting central and northern Ireland, Wales, Central England and The South East. North of this looks to stay reasonably dry but of course dull and for Scotland reasonably dry save for some wintry showers on the north east coast. As we approach Friday evening most of this rain will fizzle out into The North Sea. A windy day for Ireland as it sits between an Atlantic low and a continental high forcing strong southerly winds across Ireland and the U.K.  Cold again in that wind with mid to high single figures the order of the day, with the higher temperatures out west.

So a pretty unsettled and cool week then and you can guess that it isn’t likely to stop for your Christmas Shopping. Saturday sees heavy rain cross Ireland from dawn pushing north and east into the western half of the U.K in time for the rush to the shops to buy the same items that will be half price 10 days later :). This unsettled outlook for the west will move eastwards by lunchtime as the wind swings from south-easterly to south-westerly and pushes that rain across Ireland and all of the U.K for the 2nd half of the day. A windy, sunshine and showers type of day beckons for Sunday but with a milder, south-westerly wind, feeling just a little bit warmer (not much though). Temperatures remaining in the high single figures despite that milder air stream from the south-west.

Weather Outlook

Lots of conjecture round next weeks forecast as I mentioned right at the start of this blog with some pundits backing an easterly-dominant pattern and others mild, wet, windy and westerly. Personally I can’t see how we are going easterly with such a dominant storm system out in The Atlantic pushing in over the weekend so I am going with westerly.

My feeling is then that we will start next week very windy and pretty wet with a new low pressure system moving through next Monday morning. Tuesday morning sees another new low barrel into Ireland bringing with it very windy and very wet weather before this crosses The Irish Sea into the U.K through the 2nd half of Tuesday / first part of Wednesday. It’ll be extremely windy with some very tightly packed isobars. Cooler from Wednesday onwards as that low pulls in northerly winds. Sunshine and showers then for the end of the week on a north-westerly / westerly air stream so no risk of night frosts and maybe some respite after the very wet and windy start to the week.

Mystic meg wise if I peep into Christmas week I reckon we will still be low pressure-orientated but we may just pull over some easterlies for Christmas Day. Now easterlies and moisture mean….hmmm we will see…. maybe my Paddy Power bets for a White Christmas aren’t totally out of the window 🙂 A long way away for sure but this time next week I’ll have a much better handle on it.

Agronomic Notes

November Summary

Last week I covered the GDD info from our Thame location so below is a summary of U.K and Irish locations along with rainfall totals.

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – U.K Locations

So we see some very distinct geographical differences from a growth and rainfall perspective with the Thame location pulling in the highest GDD and the Okehampton location, the highest rainfall by some way.  It is quite striking the difference between Thame and Birmingham, not that many miles apart but the latter has a pretty low GDD in comparison, nearly half actually. Rainfall-wise the south-west as usual is in the firing line but Fife had a wet month as well courtesy of a month in which only 6 days were dry. The Midlands remains I think the driest area of the U.K and one where the reservoir levels are still at their summer levels, a concern for next year. It just goes to show how measuring your own sites data is invaluable.

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – Irish Locations

Looking at the U.K GDD and noting that the wettest areas were in the south-west primarily, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same is true for Ireland with Valentia recording 10″ of rain during November as well as 107 GDD, twice the GDD of Mayo, Tipperary or Cavan.

There are some anomalies though with Wexford (Johnstown Castle) recording 204.4mm of rain in November alongside Cork at 197.6mm, suggesting the rainfall pattern was more southerly focussed. If you draw a line across the Irish Sea, it is Wales and The South West that are next up which explains the high rainfall for Okehampton / Bath. (Sadly we don’t have one contributor from Wales 🙁 )

Further up the Irish coast we see that Dublin received half of the rainfall of Cork because the tracking of the low pressure systems was more southerly during November. Still a wet month in anyone’s books. Growth-wise from a GDD perspective, the Irish and U.K locations were very similar in terms of the spread of GDD across the respective countries.

Disease Pressure – Microdochium nivale

The last 7 days or so has been quite bad for a number of clubs in terms of both Microdochium activity around existing scars and in some cases, new infection of Microdochium into fine turf. Our disease model doesn’t pick up the role that dew played in the whole schematic but it did pick up the disease peak of early December.

This marks the third year in a row that disease activity has been significant during either the first or second week of December.

December 2nd and December 6th were the 2 days that brought with them the highest disease pressure as these two graphs confirm.

Looking ahead…

Running the model from today there is very little on the radar in the next 7-10 days from a disease pressure perspective due to the cooler temperatures and lower humidity overnight.

Let’s hope it keeps that way.

Now it is a double-edged sword because those with new scarring may want temperatures to remain on the mild side so we get some recovery and fill in of the affected areas. Others will welcome the lower temperatures and humidity that indicate lower disease pressure.

Certainly we look to have come to a halt growth-wise after a very mild start to December from a with next to no GDD predicted (2) for the next 7 days.

When I say come to halt, I am referring of course to top growth because the plant will continue to produce new root growth right down to close to 0°C. So whilst not a lot will be taking place on the surface, there’s likely to be some root growth over the next week or so. This root growth would normally be encouraged by aeration but for many it is too wet to contemplate this type of process at the moment. Less is more sometimes.

Revocation of Propiconazole / Propiconazole-containing products….

There are still some details to be filled in yet but it looks like Propiconazole may be joining the ever-increasing list of active ingredients removed from the market. I’m not 100% clear on the dates but it could be a June 2019 sell-in period and a March 2020 use-up by you folks if the chatter is correct.

That at least gives us till Autumn 2020 before we are without this very useful A.I. Now I must stress it isn’t 100% clear yet and some things may change from a timescale perspective but the writing is most definitely on the wall for one of the best systemic A.I’s on the market sadly. On the flip-side it is likely that we may pick up two new systemic fungicides at some point next year so it is not all doom and gloom on this front, more a changing of the guard.

OK, that’s me for another week, just next week’s blog and I’ll be closing down for the year as the following Monday is Christmas Eve and for some of us with a Scandinavian parentage, it’s our Christmas 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt

December 3rd – Mini Blog

Hi All,

Time is against me this week so it’s going to be a mini-blog until normal service is resumed next week. Thanks to everyone for sending in their monthly summaries, I’ll do my normal UK and Irish comparison next week when I have more time.

So this week gone has seen some pretty mild temperatures for what is after all the beginning of December. I measured 14.5°C air temperature yesterday and currently my soil temperature in the top 25mm is sitting at 12.4°C !

Early December has been synonymous with mild weather periods over the last 3 years and this one is no exception but as I’ve commented upon in earlier blogs, there are two sides to this mild weather autumn / winter coin 🙂 / 🙁

Nature is a bit confused by this mild weather as well with these Hellebores pushing up flower buds really early and spring bulbs already emerging from the soil.

The pic above shows the arc of the sun on the very useful Sun Seeker 3D app. Today is shown in yellow and the light blue line is the arc of the sun at the Winter Solstice on December 21st. You can see we are nearly at the lowest point of the sun on the horizon. So all you guys managing shade-affected sites, this is close to as bad as it gets from a light availability perspective 🙂

OK, onto an abridged version of this weeks weather as ‘Tempus fugit’ for me 🙁

General Weather Situation

So this week we start in the grip of low pressure with a slightly cooler aspect as the winds have turned north-westerly through Monday and that’ll give a chilly night overnight into Tuesday. Plenty of showers pushed over on this north-west wind and bright spells in-between and a wedge of heavy rain now moving east from northern England. As we go into Tuesday after a cooler night than of late, we have a brief hiatus between one low swinging off onto the continent and another one pushing in off the Atlantic so Tuesday looks largely dry but feeling much cooler with temperatures only in the mid to high single figures if you’re lucky. Largely dry though. Not for long as that new Atlantic low will push into Kerry (where else lads) at dusk  and then quickly move north and east making landfall in The South West during Tuesday evening and then pushing across Wales and most of the southern half of the U.K first thing on Wednesday. So Wednesday promises to be a very wet one for the southern half of the U.K with that rain clearing Ireland from the west during the late morning and hopefully missing Scotland entirely. Milder on Wednesday as the wind swings round to the west so high single figures, maybe just touching double figures in the south. That said the far end of that rain front may fall as wintry showers for a time across elevation in the north of England. Thursday sees that westerly wind ramp up so pretty windy and dry for the U.K initially with a new rain front pushing into western Ireland around dawn. So wet on Thursday for Ireland and western coastlines of the U.K with Scotland picking up the worst of the rain I think on Thursday morning. Away from the western coasts it’ll be a sunshine and showers type of day and back to very mild with temperatures in the low double figures for Thursday. Friday sees a new rain front push across Ireland into the U.K overnight and so a wet start especially for The South West and Wales on Friday. At this stage the projections show the worst of the rain confined to western parts but some will push into central areas of the U.K early Friday morning. Again looking very wet for north-west Ireland, England and Scotland on Friday morning with some localised flooding likely and very windy with that low pushing north across Scotland during the day. Further south it’ll be a wet start to Friday but a better second half of the day beckons as that rain pushes east into The North Sea after lunchtime. Still some showers, some of them wintry along north-western coasts and feeling a little cooler again on Friday.

The outlook for the weekend is windy and wet on Saturday with the winds turning more northerly overnight into Sunday to give a cooler but potentially drier day after early rain clears.

Weather Outlook

So after a mild and unsettled week is it more of the same or do we get a high pressure respite ?

Well the answer is yes and err no…Initially we do with high pressure asserting itself from the start of next week so that means colder, drier and more settled weather certainly for the 1st part of the week with night frosts likely. On Tuesday we may see some rain for the west of Ireland and this heralds the weather pattern for the 2nd half of next week which promises to be wet and windy again I think as another Atlantic low pressure pushes in. So cold, dry and settled early next week with it becoming milder, windier and more unsettled from the west from Tuesday onwards. No sign of a White Christmas event at the moment but we won’t really start to get our first markers till the middle of December despite what the media say 🙂

Agronomic Notes

GDD November – A quick look…

As you can see from the chart above for The Oxfordshire location, November 2018 will go down as a mild one, particularly for the 1st part of the month when we had double figure, day time (and sometimes night time temperatures). It ranks as our 3rd mildest November since we started this GDD -measuring exercise back in 2010.

As a matter of interest, my stats for November 2018 in Market Harborough are ;

Warmest air temperature =14.5°C 

Coldest air temperature = -4.8°C 

Rainfall 30.7mm (Yep we remain so dry)

Average Humidity 97.3% !

As I said earlier there are drawbacks and benefits to this late mild air…..

Overseeding / Drought-damaged area recovery

As predicted, the mild temperatures and rainfall have pushed soil temperatures up into double figures at some locations and this has meant continued growth and even some late germination of early November overseeding.  This can only be viewed as good news because It’s a fact that many clubs have gone into the autumn / winter with poor cover on fairways and because of the extremely dry soil from the summer have struggled to gain recovery. With our rainfall total above it has only just started to become possible to vertidrain down to full depth locally.

Looking at the G.P stats for November we can see we had some periods of reasonably good growth particularly up until the third week of the month. It dropped off thereafter when those easterlies kicked in but has now recovered and continued into December. The total G.P for November in the Thame location was 9.21 and they had 55.8mm of rain. Happy days for some…

Disease Activity

Last week I flagged up the very mild day and night temperatures we faced as we exited November and moved into December and wondered how it would shake out from a disease activity perspective ?

The dilemma in my mind a week ago was that although we were forecast to have very mild set of day and night temperatures it was also forecast to be extremely windy and wet as well. I surmised that this doesn’t always translate into as aggressive disease activity compared to when we have similar temperatures that are associated with still, muggy conditions and heavy dew.

I was out spraying some trials last Tuesday and they were some scars associated with the mid-October peak of activity we saw this autumn. I marked the outer edge of the scars with two small paint blobs. The scars were wet and water-soaked suggesting activity.  Now I did spray a trial non-fungicidal mix across the areas I was assessing because I wanted to see if there was any effect on existing disease activity during extremely favourable conditions.

The image above shows the same disease scars with the left hand pic taken on the morning of the 27th November after I’ve sprayed (so that’s why it looks greener because of the marker dye)

The right hand pic shows the same disease scars on the 30th of November after an intervening  G.P figure of 1.5. It’s also worth mentioning that when I sprayed on the 27th, I had to remove the dew off the plots first (good core exercise isn’t it ? 🙂 ) so conditions were ideal for disease development.

Now I would say my conclusion is that there was some lateral movement on existing disease scars last week and over the weekend. The feedback I got off Twitter (for which incidentally I am extremely grateful to everyone who has posted their observations) was similar and it was slow movement at that. I did not get any feedback related to new infections which we have had before in December.

Casting my mind back to December 2016, we saw very aggressive new infection on tees, approaches, fairways and the like (pic above) during the first week. Comparing the temperature and humidity levels from that period to last week, we were milder this year and as humid but we didn’t see the same level of activity.

Why ?

I think it was to do with the very strong wind levels and rain events, I can’t be 100% on the mechanism but for sure when we get wet, windy and mild weather we don’t see the same activity compared to the same temperature stats when it is muggy and still.

Interesting eh ?

Ok that’s it for this week, a short one but like I said Tempus fugit and all that…

All the best…

Mark Hunt