Hi All,

Time flies doesn’t it ?

We are already motoring through May in what is turning out to be generally a good greenkeeper / groundsman month all in all with some warm, dry weather and the odd frost thrown in for good measure.

This is nothing unusual because I always regard May as a bit of a yo-yo month weather-wise and one where night temperatures don’t really settle down till towards the end of the month.

Leaving early on Friday morning to catch the Eurostar (my first time), there was a good frost on the ground and temperatures were barely above freezing. What a nice way to travel that is by the way, very relaxing. Even a short delay on the way home due to a points problem wasn’t an issue as the Eurostar train conveniently came to a stop next to Hackney Marshes so I sat watching Reed Warblers, a Marsh Harrier, Buzzards and the like whilst time ticked by 🙂

Last week marked the 75th anniversary of The Dambuster raid and I was privileged to watch our only surviving Lancaster perform 4 passes over Eyebrook reservoir, one of the dams that the crews practiced on in the run up to the raid. Flying at 60ft at night, time and time again till they got it right.  The sound of those Merlin engines whether they be in a Lanc, Spitfire, Hurricane or Mustang give me goosebumps.

Talking of water, (tenuous link alert) May is also turning up to be a dry one for some with 17mm recorded here all month and 9 days now without a drop. I think that might be due to change in the next week or so, so rain isn’t far away for some.

Ok, so let’s look at what the weather has in store this week now I have my first coffee of the day in front of me and Vaughan William’s ‘Lark Ascending’ in the background.

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts the week with a thick band of rain already over Ireland and Scotland but unusually this one isn’t moving eastwards in fact it’ll clear from the east over both Scotland and Ireland with maybe East Leinster and Wexford missing the worst. South of this band of rain sees a lovely start to the week with sunshine already breaking through some hazy cloud cover after a cool night. So a mostly dry day for the U.K except for that band of stubborn-to-move rain over north west Scotland and the west of Ireland. It may not stay totally dry though because there’s a risk of showers with thunder and lightning forming over The Midlands and south of England later in the afternoon. Saying that as I proof read this blog I can see showers already appearing into Kent on the radar. Nice temperatures away from that rain over Ireland and Scotland which will see low teens, compared to low twenties for the central England and Wales. Winds will be light to moderate and from the north-east.

Onto Tuesday and with the arrival of moisture on Monday they’ll be more in the way of cloud cover present and this could well be thick enough for more showers inland and across the south-east of England later in the day. Ireland should see the last of the rain dissipate during the early hours leading to a much better day of sunshine, cloud and warmer temperatures. Scotland will have a thick cloud base over The Highlands, certainly thick enough for some rain but further south towards the borders you may see some sun and better temperatures. Towards the end of Tuesday marks the greatest risk of rain affecting the south-east of England. Again with warm temperatures and moisture there’s a risk of those showers being thundery in nature and accompanied by lightning. So 13-15°C where you have cloud cover and maybe 23°C across the south of England before those showers bubble up. Winds will remain from the north-east but will increase in intensity as we go through Tuesday and will remain moderate to blustery through the rest of the week.

A similar day on Wednesday with long, clear spells of unbroken sunshine but still with the risk of thundery showers across The South East and joined this time by a risk of showers across Connacht and Mayo later in the day. With a strong north-east wind the risk of cloud cover sitting along the eastern coastline of the U.K is significant and it is this cloud cover that could thicken to give showers later in the day. Much better temperatures across The Irish Sea with high teens and maybe a sneaky twenty thrown in there whilst England and Wales will sit between 20-22°C, Scotland 3-4°C cooler but still nice mind. Again a risk of rain / thundery showers across The South East.

Thursday again sees the risk of rain pushing into the south-east of England overnight bringing thicker cloud and cooler temperatures. This rain could potentially push up north and west into central regions, The Midlands and the north of England through the course of Thursday but it is tricky to say at this point. No such worries for Ireland and Scotland where the cloud cover will burn off to give a lovely day and temperatures into the low twenties, so Smithy, you owe me one 🙂 Through the afternoon we see that rain over central and southern areas continue to push north and west perhaps reaching the north-west of England. Ireland also may see some showers kick off down across south-west Munster later in the afternoon. Scotland looks to stay dry all day with plenty of sunshine and then cloud building later in the day.

Closing out not a bad week on Friday we see some potentially heavy rain in a tight precise band across The Midlands, Mid and North Wales and northern England. This band of rain (lighter now) may drift across The Irish Sea into Leinster and across to the west. So a good deal more cloud around for Central England with the risk of rain but here’s a big caveat.

This rain is from the continent and I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve mentioned how unreliable it can be in terms of amounts and orientation.  North of this band of cloud and potential rain we see plenty of sunshine for the north of England, Scotland and Ireland from The Midlands north. Through the afternoon we will see more in the way of showers crop up for the south of Ireland, The Midlands and the north of England and these will slowly push westwards into the evening. The west and Scotland sees the better temperatures this time with low twenties for Ireland, Wales and Scotland but high teens for England with that cloud cover and threat of rain. Winds will remain strong to moderate north-easterly.

Ok so what’s the outlook for the May Bank Holiday (U.K only as Ireland’s is I think the week after).

Well I think we will follow a pretty similar pattern to the week really with the most significant threat of rain over the south / south east of England and extending up into The Midlands later on Sunday and through Monday as low pressure begins to edge that high away into Scandinavia. Saturday at this stage looks to be a good bit cooler than of late with more cloud cover for the south east, but temperatures will soon recover on Sunday. All of this rain risk originates from the continent pushing up from France so it’ll be pretty hit and miss I think. The forecasters tend to agree that the risk of rain and cloud cover seems to increase as we go through the Bank Holiday weekend for England. Further west and north of this is I think looking pretty damned good with long spells of sunshine and very warm temperatures. Plenty of cloud cover for eastern areas may make Wells and the Norfolk coast feel a bit nippier in that ever-present north easterly wind that we seem to have had for ages now.  Come Bank Holiday Monday I think we will see that threat of rain extend westwards towards Wales and The South West possibly.

Weather Outlook

So next week I think we will see the weather gradually deteriorate from the south as low pressure edges up bringing unsettled conditions into the north and west from mid-week onwards. These low pressure systems appear weak and slow-moving so they’re not associated with strong winds. I think on the whole we will see some rain, reasonable temperatures, high teens, maybe touching twenty degrees and more in the way of cloud cover through the week. If I was a betting man, I’d have Tuesday and Wednesday down as potentially the most unsettled days.

Agronomic Notes

New Insecticide for amenity usage ?

I hear some rumours that our industry is close to getting a new insecticide for Leatherjackets and Chafers on an emergency-use basis. It won’t be cheap for sure and it will probably not be labelled for use on all amenity turf areas but at least we may have an option in the worst case scenarios. This spring I’ve seen a good number of areas affected by Leatherjackets in particular with poorly-responding greens, tees and fairways a sure sign of their presence even though cultural work, climatic conditions and nutrition is in place to produce consistent grass growth.

A quick look back on how our year is tracking…

It never pays to forget where you came from and for me it doesn’t seem that long ago that the landscape looked bleak, wet and cold with precious little growth.

A while ago, I had some GDD data sent from a Northampton location comparing the previous years growth and rainfall data with the thought that 2018 most resembled 2016 in terms of these two parameters.

I decided to update this comparison as of yesterdays date to see how the comparison was shaping up and I think it is interesting…..

Growth Comparison – 2018 vs. 2017, 2016, 2013 – Location – Northampton

Looking at the data above we are still tracking 7 days behind last year from a cumulative Growth Potential perspective but when you consider that we were 28 days behind only a month ago, it gives you an indication of just how much growth we have had in the meantime.

May 2018 is actually tracking some 12% ahead of last year from a growth perspective so we are still in catch up mode and when you look at the forecast for the week ahead from a growth perspective, (below) it is likely that trend will continue…

That is of course if you have moisture available because it is likely in some areas that moisture will now be a limiting factor on grass growth on unirrigated areas of fairway, semi-rough and outfield. Last week’s Meteoturf predicted an E.T loss of roughly 25mm of moisture from the turf surface and this week’s prognosis is similar so that’s a lot of moisture to lose and not replace. That said plenty of areas are still showing the signs of the excessive rainfall of March so we won’t dwell on this too much at present. (Be careful what you wish for and all that….)

Rainfall Comparison – 2018 vs. 2017, 2016, 2013 – Location – Northampton

Have to say Rob’s contention back in April that 2018 most resembled 2016 is looking pretty accurate (I’ll give you that one Rob :)) when you look at the rainfall stats.

In fact on the graph above the years seem to separate into 2 very distinct data sets, 2018 and 2016 together and also 2013 and 2017 together.

2013, was of course the long, cold and dry winter / spring but to me it is interesting how closely they resemble each other. Both sets are within 10mm of rainfall of each other on 20th May, uncanny.

I wonder how long the 2018 and 2016 comparison will hold for because looking back to 2016 we had a warm and wet June and then a hot and dry July followed by a pretty good August as well. I wonder if 2018 will follow suit ?

Short and sweet this week.

All the best.

Mark Hunt