November 19th

Hi All,

As the thermometer hovers around 7°C and the sound of platform announcements from Market Harborough train station waft through the window, it is clear that an easterly wind has arrived (that’s how I know without looking out of the window 🙂 )

We may be cool but we are not yet cold, that begins tomorrow with the arrival of much colder air from the west of Russia. I had to double-take when I saw the snow icon alongside Wednesday mornings weather, that’s the first time this autumn / winter and an indication just how different it is going to feel later in the week. Last week I was hoping for a cold high to stabilise the weather but the actual picture looks a bit more unsettled.

My Hedgehogs are putting on the fat big time as they will need to do and I expect the adults to hibernate this week. I’ve noticed it is nearly always the third week of November for the adults but the October-brood youngsters will often feed right through to New Year as they strive to put on enough body fat to last the worst of the winter after Christmas. Key will be whether they have weaned or not, because if they haven’t they will die. This process usually takes 6 weeks so I’m hoping we are ok for the three youngsters now visiting my garden. I made some small 13cm x 13cm holes in various fences around my property (ahem) last winter and it is these that they are using to visit. I’ve had a few questions / comments on Twitter and this blog regarding  feeding mealworms  to my spiky ensemble with some publications warning against this. I don’t totally agree as long as it isn’t all you feed because they are insectivores by nature. I supplement their diet with proper Hedgehog food (Ark) so they have a mix and key is to put plenty of water out because eating is thirsty work. When you consider how dry we are in Leicestershire and the lack of ponds / wildlife areas in most gardens, access to water must be tricky for them and other wildlife. We will talk about water later in the blog but now it’s onto the weather for this week and beyond. Dullsville springs to mind.

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees a mainly dull and dry day with that easterly wind in attendance. As usual when we have easterlies, Ireland and the west of the U.K will have the best chance of seeing the sun and maybe a degree or two better temperature. That said as I type this I notice the clouds are breaking and the sunshine is tentatively peeping through. So reasonably dry, cool and with plenty of cloud about is the story for the U.K and Ireland on Monday. Some of this cloud may be thick enough for some light rain across eastern areas. Towards the evening we may see some light showers of rain push into the east / south-east of the U.K. Temperature-wise I’d say 8-9°C will be our maximum with the best reserved for Ireland, Wales and The South West.

Overnight into Tuesday and we see more of those showers across eastern coasts extending into The North East and eastern Scotland, with the latter possibly wintry in nature. The main rain front seems to be across the south-east of England and this will build and extend further inland as we progress through the morning. Away from these showers across south-east and eastern coasts we look dry until around dusk when some rain moves inland into The Midlands and also the Leinster coastline. With a colder air stream on Tuesday, the showers will become wintry in nature over higher ground during Tuesday night / Wednesday morning especially over The Black Mountains and The Pennines. Colder on Tuesday, a couple of degrees down on Monday, with a strong easterly wind in situ providing significant windchill.

Overnight into Wednesday the front of rain and wintry showers has pushed inland across The Midlands and particularly northern England which looks to start wet for midweek. Scotland and the east of Ireland looks similar with a risk of rain along the south coast of England as well, so a very unsettled picture for the start of Wednesday. The bulk of the rain / wintry showers mix will be along the eastern side of the U.K and Ireland extending inland into Central Scotland, northern England, The Midlands and South Wales I reckon. By association, the west will be drier initially. As we progress through the morning the rain / wintry shower mix will move northwards clearing most of the south-east / eastern corner of the U.K and by lunchtime, The Midlands. Scotland will get the flip side to this coin as the rain will intensify, falling as wintry showers across The Highlands. Ireland will see a mainly dry day away from the showers across the east coast of Leinster, but these will push west and north through the morning and afternoon so some western areas may catch a late shower towards dusk. The wind will swing round to the south-east through the course of Wednesday but it won’t do anything for the temperatures as they sit firmly rooted in mid-single figures across all of the U.K and Ireland.

Onto Thursday and a much brighter picture than earlier in the week with a cold but sunny start for many across the U.K and Ireland. There will be some exceptions to this with rain across the south-east of Munster / Leinster and eastern / Central Scotland. As we progress through to Thursday afternoon, the rain across Ireland sinks south and east into Kerry and we see a clear east – west divide across the U.K with the east sitting under a thick pall of cloud extending up from The Wash right to the north-east tip of Scotland. Away from this layer of cloud, it’ll be bright but cold despite the south-easterly / easterly wind abating a tad. As we approach dusk we will stay in that pattern with thick cloud across The North East and Scotland and clear skies across the south. That rain over the south-west of Ireland will persist and may intensify as we go into Friday. Similar temperatures to Wednesday, i.e mid-single figures with the windchill making it feel closer to freezing.

Friday sees us start pretty much as we left off with rain across the south / south west of Ireland and across central and north-east Scotland. That layer of thick cloud remains along the north-eastern coastline of the U.K for the entire day. That rain across Scotland is set to become isolated to a band stretching westwards from Fife but is likely to stay into the evening as will that Irish rain front across the south / south west. Away from the thick cloud we will see a dry day with some periods of winter sunshine particularly across the south and south-east of England. That easterly wind picks up again on Friday and this explains the dull outlook for eastern counties as we end the week. Mid-single figures again I am afraid.

Bearing in mind the weather pattern for the preceding week it probably comes as no great shakes that the weekend looks, cool, dull and reasonably dry. I say reasonably because there’s a risk of some rain lingering across the south coast of Ireland and this may extend into The South West. This rain may push along the south coast into the south east of England through the course of Saturday as a Bay of Biscay low pressure makes its presence felt. At this stage it isn’t projected to extend further northwards but this could change. Overnight this will clear north and east into The North Sea to leave a cool, dry and dull day for just about everywhere on Sunday with a strengthening north-westerly wind keeping temperatures pinned down in yes you guessed it, mid-single figures. (yawn)

Weather Outlook

The above GIF taken from the Unisys projected outlook for Wednesday next week shows what I term a ‘sandwich’ scenario. As you can see we have an Atlantic low to our left, a high pressure in-between and a cold low to its right. So we are sandwiched between two competing weather systems and when this happens we tend to pick up either a southerly or northerly air stream, depending on the location of the high and low weather systems. So next week starts off unsettled in the south, with another Bay of Biscay low pushing along the south coast for Monday / Tuesday. Away from this we should be pretty calm and dry for Monday and Tuesday. As we approach mid-week, the winds strengthen and turn round to the south west for Ireland and the west of the U.K, but stay south-easterly for the eastern side of the U.K. All in all it is likely to be pretty chilly in my books.  Later in the week that southerly air stream looks to push more eastwards affecting all the country. There’s a risk of some rain for the west coast of Ireland later next week but at present the high pressure looks like keeping us reasonably dry till the end of the week.

It won’t last though because one pressure system will dominate in the end and my money is on the Atlantic low pressure pushing in at the end of next week / weekend to bring windy and wet conditions to all areas but at least it will feel a little milder.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Pressure

Last Monday I posted that we had a projected disease peak due  from mid-week onwards with significant humidity associated with mild overnight temperatures for the latter part of the week in particular.

As you can see from the image above taken from my own Netatmo weather station, the grass temperature fell below the dewpoint temperature so we saw some pretty heavy dews as a consequence. (this is early Friday morning)

As we all know by now, having a wet leaf and mild temperatures in the autumn is a perfect recipe for Microdochium nivale, so I felt quite happy in a way to see that the projected peak in disease pressure actually occurred when we expected.

‘Quite happy’ probably isn’t the description that you may have used when seeing activity on your surfaces but take it in the context it is meant please 🙂

Now my feedback is that most clubs saw re-activity around existing scars rather than lots of new infection sites across a surface. As usual I’d like to know if that’s what you experienced please ?

Looking ahead…

Now to the good news…

As inferred in my blog last week I expected disease pressure to drop away significantly as the easterly winds and cooler air made its presence felt over the weekend and as you can see from the projected disease pressure graph below, the outlook for this week is for zero disease pressure.

So if you got over the various Microdochium nivale pressure peaks since early October, give yourself a tick in the box of an effective IPM program. Quite honestly I think we are learning the lessons of previous autumns and keeping applications tighter through strong growth / high disease pressure periods of early autumn. We also seem to be addressing the issue of surplus surface organic matter as well, now that it is accepted to be a major contributory factor and we have no Iprodione safety net.

Growth Outlook

Although our weather is constantly changing we always get to a point sometime in November when the soil temperature drops away significantly and rarely does it increase again for long before the following spring.

This week is I think such a point, sometimes it is early November, sometimes mid-November and this year we are just into the third week but I expect the soil temperature to drop to 5-6°C by the end of the week.

The above Meteoturf module illustrates this point clearly with an outlook for pretty much zero growth over the coming week. Not great news for everyone that is still hoping for some more recovery on their drought-affected areas from this summer but looking further ahead I think that we may see a milder air stream from late November along with some moisture and that will provide some continuing recovery potential. We still have a long way to go on the moisture front though…

Talking of moisture…

During the summer you may remember I ran a graph from our Oxfordshire location looking at the soil moisture status from June 1st. The graph tracked moisture lost by evapotranspiration vs. moisture from rainfall and then plotted the moisture deficit / surplus assuming we started at the 1st of June at zero.

A number of people have commented to me how dry the soil is on their outfield (golf or winter sport) once you get through the surface organic matter layer. Well of course getting through the organic matter layer in the surface is the first challenge for water because that layer is naturally hydrophobic (water repellent) and so naturally resists water ingression.

The next is having sufficient water to wet up the soil below and that is wholly dependent on rainfall patterns. Bearing in mind we have had some rain during October I was curious to see how much difference it had made to the above dynamic.

If you look to the far right of the graph you can see we are heading back towards a positive moisture status but it is going to be a slow process.

At the end of September we were at -311.8mm so that means 311.8mm of rain is needed to bring us back to zero status. At the end of October the figure is -294.6mm which means the difference between moisture lost by evapotranspiration and moisture from rainfall during October was +17.2mm. So that is why our soils remain dry despite the fact that we are supposedly in a wetter part of the year. If we don’t get a wetter-than-normal winter, it is very likely that in some areas of the country we will have water restrictions in 2019.

OK, that’s it for this week, wrap up well from that chilly wind.

All the best.

Mark Hunt