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