Hi All,

Sometimes I sit at this desk on a Monday morning and through the thin veil of sleep I have to remind myself of the date. Early signs of a cognitive disorder or a topsy-turvy year when it comes to the weather I’m not sure but as we embark on the 2nd day of British Summertime we still aren’t done with winter yet. As a customer said to me last week, my blogs make depressing reading this spring (or maybe always?) for that I can only apologise.

So my call of last Monday for a cool, unsettled Easter looks to be correct I’m afraid, don’t think it will be the Beast from the East MKIII, but it will be turning cooler again as we fail to move from the trough pattern in the jet stream that beset us back in the middle of February, that’s 6 weeks and counting. It may not seem like it this Easter but I have a suspicion that the jet stream is beginning to pull back into line slowly, beginning the week after Easter, time will tell. Yesterday though marked the start of British Summertime and what a lovely day it was, exactly a week before I could hardly bear the windchill from the east wind on my face whilst out walking, yesterday I was sweating…

For now let’s get on with the general weather situation…

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts off dry, cool and settled after what was for us here in The Midlands (and hopefully for the rest of you) a lovely spring day yesterday. A light frost as well in places. Ireland will have a duller start as cloud cover from an approaching Atlantic frontal system pushes ahead of it. The U.K should be bright, sunny and dry, not a bad way to start the week mind. As we go through to the afternoon we see that rain front push into the west of Ireland and move across the country for the rest of the day making landfall across The South West of England around about midnight. So not a bad Monday for the U.K and a wet second half for Ireland sums it up. In light north-westerly winds, temperatures will rise into double figures, especially where you see plenty of sunshine, a couple of degrees down on that for Ireland and Scotland.

Tuesday sees that rain front clearing Ireland by the time the M50 turns into a car park.  it’s now the turn of the U.K to get the rain and by the morning rush hour it’ll be ensconced over the western half of the U.K and moving eastwards. This rain may fall as wintry showers over the mountains of Scotland and The Lakes and they’ll be some very heavy bursts amongst it for the former as well, so expect some local flooding. By late morning Ireland is left dull and damp with some showers remaining, the worst of the rain will have cleared the west and now situated over the eastern side of the country clearing most areas by dusk. I say most areas because it looks to stay entrenched over Scotland well into the evening and with temperatures dropping it will turn to snow more readily over higher ground. So for a lot of areas of the U.K on Tuesday, you’ll start wet but then the rain will clear eastwards and then temperatures will pick up nicely in the sunshine up into the low teens across the south of England, what a pity it isn’t set to last as it is good growing weather. For Scotland, a pretty wet day I’m afraid and high single figures at best with Ireland similar, maybe just nicking up into double figures. Winds will be moderate and from the south turning westerly across most areas except Scotland where they start off south-easterly and then turn south-westerly.

Mid-week and Wednesday sees a band of wintry showers sitting across the west coast of Scotland and northern England. A much cooler feel to the day as the cooler air that will dominate Easter begins to make its presence felt. This means that any moisture will have a more wintry feel to it so during late morning we will see some showers of sleet, rain and snow push into western Ireland and also Wales moving eastwards across Scotland, the north of England and The Midlands of England by lunchtime. As we go through the afternoon these should clear southern England and become isolated to the east coastline of the U.K, still though those wintry showers affecting the west coast of Ireland mind. In-between the showers we will see plenty of sunshine but a more raw feel to the day for sure compared to the milder air of Monday and Tuesday despite a westerly wind direction. Expect 6-8°C as a typical temperature.

Thursday is significant because the wind changes round to a more easterly aspect and that’ll pull in some wintry showers across north-east Scotland through the morning. Elsewhere a bright, cold start to the day with plenty of winter sunshine after a light ground frost. Through the morning we may just see some wintry showers skirt the southern coast of England and South Wales in-between the sunshine. Those same showers may just spoil what will be a bright, cold day for Ireland by pushing into the south-east of Leinster / Munster on Thursday night. Feeling cold with that easterly wind over Scotland and mid-single figures likely here. Further south the wind will be more southerly orientated and that’ll push up temperatures a little into the high single figures.

Closing out the week with Good Friday and quite a complicated picture in terms of where may get wintry showers and where may stay dry. So complicated is it I’m not even going to try. Ok I will, at this stage it looks like the wintry showers will be confined to the south-east of Ireland, The South West and South Wales first off before moving away and dissipating. Scotland looks to keep those wintry showers across the north-east of the country and as we go through the morning they’ll move westwards pushed along by an easterly wind. We do have a low pressure sitting right over us and so for England, Wales and Ireland, I expect it’ll be a day of sunshine and then wintry showers moving through on a light to moderate south-east / southerly wind which turns increasingly easterly. I expect this to change as we go through the week rainfall vs. location-wise so plan for a cool, sunny and unsettled Good Friday and you won’t be disappointed.

So how does the rest of Easter look ?

Well I think Easter Saturday will be similar to Good Friday, bright and cool with some rain, sleet and snow showers (over elevation) to spoil the show. An easterly wind in situ so that means any moisture will come off The North Sea and English Channel / Irish Sea. Best to keep an eye on your local forecast for more up-to-date info on where the showers will affect but usually they come in off The Wash / Thames Estuary and the like. The second part of Easter Sunday sees the wind turn round to the south-west across Ireland and push in some heavy rain and strong winds. These looks set to affect most of the U.K on Easter Monday but with a south-west air stream it’ll feel milder in that wind and rain. (always looking for a positive spin like :))

Weather Outlook

Well it looks pretty straight-forward next week kicking off with the arrival of that Atlantic low pressure over Ireland on Sunday afternoon. At this stage it looks like next week will be windy, potentially very windy at times and wet with unsettled weather sitting with us most of the week. Initially cooler and unsettled but crucially with a south-west airstream they’ll be no risk of snow or night frostsand it’ll feel milder from Monday I reckon possibly. From Thursday next week I think we will pick up a much milder airstream and therefore see a hike in temperatures to normal for the beginning of April. I think the worst rain of the week will be on Easter Monday which is just bloody typical.

Agronomic Notes

So last week I produced a graph from The Oxfordshire showing we were currently sitting 11 days behind 2017 from a cumulative Growth Potential perspective. I’ve picked data from another location today, Northampton (thanks Rob) to do the comparison. Of course next week will be the end of the month so I should have lots of data to compare with 2017, it’s my intention to do as many representative locations as possible and certainly Scotland, Ireland, England and if possible Wales, but presently I have no data from that region.

So last week at The Oxfordshire location, we were tracking -11 days behind 2017 from a growth perspective and this week at a close-by location,  we are now 19 days behind so the gap is stretching. I think it will continue to do so through the rest of this month looking at the projected forecast, maybe finishing -23 days behind 2017 at the end of March. So over 3 weeks behind at the end of March in other words.

I thought it would also be interesting to see how the daily and total Growth Potential per month shaped up for this location ;

So you can see currently we haven’t had as much growth in March as we had in January this year, in fact I think we will be lucky to exceed January’s growth.

The last time this happened was 2013, another year when we had a late event, Sudden Stratospheric Warming.

A final perspective on growth, we have had just 2 days when the G.P was 0.4 or above, denoting good spring growth and both of them were in January.

Definitive proof then that we are behind and that any growth we have had this year was earlier.

Consequences of a late spring..

I have already talked about the fact that recovery from aeration will take a lot longer this year because of the slow start, easily a month if you aerated at the beginning of March and possibly longer. So punters, management and the like will just have to be patient I’m afraid.

If I was looking for some light at the end of the tunnel, then I’d hope that with next week’s unsettled forecast comes some milder day and night temperatures and that’ll move things on a bundle. Even today when the sun is out and temperatures are on the up, we started with a hard frost just short of -1°C, so we won’t hit a good growth day today.

The same goes for the conversion of winter season pitch to outfield on school pitches, it will take a bit longer this year but I’m hoping next week’s forecast will help the job along.

Looking at Meteoblue, they are projecting from 11-13°C next week with 3-5°C night temperatures and that’ll be good enough for some consistent growth, ok it won’t be jumping out of the ground, but if the forecast is right, it’ll be enough growth to move surfaces along 🙂

Selective herbicide timing

When I was out walking yesterday I saw some really small yellow flowers at the edge of a copse and thought they were Celandines but on closer inspection they were actually Dandelions ! They were really small, but in full flower with a shortened stem, almost dwarf-like and it got me thinking. At this stage of the spring we are normally on the cusp of spraying a selective herbicide but of course weed growth will be behind this year, just like grass growth so if you intend to spray early, make sure your target weed is visible. If not you are likely to spray and then have to spray again later in the spring when other weed species are fully emerged.

A good week for granulars…

With an unsettled forecast this week and a most-likely windy and unsettled next week then this coming week should prove ideal for granular fertiliser applications, especially if next week’s milder low pressure comes to fruition.

Nowadays more than ever this job is about spotting windows and taking advantage of them regardless of what the calendar may say sometimes.

Using GDD and G.P Data

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know from my blog and talks, that I’m a big fan of promoting the use of GDD / G.P data in communication with customers and management alike. People have very short memories when it comes to the weather conditions and precious little acknowledgement about their effects on grass growth and related management issues but this is changing. One of the reasons (I like to think) is the use of this type of information when addressing committees and the like, it really does put things into perspective in my humble opinion. Similarly golf clubs can use this data to explain to golfers why conditions are as they are….Over the weekend I could see from my twitter feed that a number of you were using GDD / G.P / Weather stats to present to members at your clubs and I can only applaud your efforts. (Matt, Kevan, Rob et al 🙂 )

Ok that’s it for this week, short and sweet (like me)

Make the best of Easter, I don’t think it’ll be as bad as the tabloids are saying and for sure I intend to get out regardless. Fishing is one of those hobbies / past times/ obsessions that is unaffected by rain, now mountain biking is another matter 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt