November 5th

Hi All,

This time last week we were looking at some early, heavy frosts and wondering whether they were a portent for a hard winter. This week the tables are turned as we sit (after a mild weekend) watching the air and soil temperature rise back up in a mild southerly air stream. The promised rain never made it to Leicestershire over the weekend and so in Market Harborough we only have a total for the year-to-date of 371mm, that’s dry and maybe 35% less than we would expect in a ‘normal year’. Now we all know that rainfall has an unerring habit of balancing out across a year but it’s going to have to get a shift on this year if that is the case. Be careful what you wish for maybe Marky ?

Last week’s blog published sometime in the afternoon, our I.T dept still hasn’t quite pinned it but we will see what today brings, sorry again for any inconvenience as I actually finished it at midday.

I did a short presentation last week at Saltex and the talk was ‘compered’ by a BBC bod who basically try to jazz the thing up and field questions. (and let us face it, my talks need jazzing up 🙂 )

My talk looked at this year and explained (or tried to) some of the key weather events, what lay behind them and measures we could take to adapt.

I’m not sure what planet BBC man was on but I felt he singularly failed to understand that our weather is changing, that our industry is and needs to carry on adapting and that sometimes nature can give us some clues about weather events. I was tempted to quote him line from The Smiths classic track ‘Ask’….”Nature is a language, can’t you read ?”. I can but I don’t think he could.

It kind of struck me that a lot of you must meet the same ‘attitude’ when it comes to explaining current weather, legislation trends and their impact on your facility. You know the kind of look you get back that suggests you might have been better having that conversation with the nearest wall. Communication is everything though so don’t give up 🙂

On a nature note, I regularly have 4 Hedgehogs feeding in my garden every night, two adults and two recent offspring who as usual will keep feeding long after their parents have gone into hibernation (normally the third week of November). It is costing me a fortune in Mealworms and the patches left by their urine are very slow to recover but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Brilliant to see when WWF and the like are reporting such a decline in their numbers that with a little effort (remember my garden was only ‘converted’ this spring from a non-Hedgehog-friendly patio and crap design) and a 13cm square hole in the garden gate you can have these nightly visitors.

I’ve put the image above up before but I’ve noticed that the young ones go into hibernation just before the weather turns proper wintery so I’ll keep you posted on what happens this year 🙂

General Weather Situation

So we start the week on Monday with a band of rain stretching across Ireland into south-west Scotland and that band will move north and west through the morning gradually clearing from south-east Ireland first. That means a pretty wet day for Scotland once again I’m afraid (maybe you can sell us some water) and for Ireland. Away from this rain band we have a misty and murky start to the day for most areas with lots of low-lying cloud. Through the morning this will gradually clear and the wind will pick up from the south-east to give a pleasant, if a little dull, mild Monday. Temperatures will be well up into the mid-teens, maybe hitting 16°C in the south of England, but cooler for Ireland and Scotland under that thicker cloud and rain. A mild night to follow and with high humidity, that might cause some problems, more on that later.

Onto Tuesday and we still have some patchy rain around over Scotland, some of it potentially heavy across the east. Ireland will also see thicker cloud cover across the north and east, some of it thick enough for some light rain. Staying with Ireland we will see a heavy rain front push into Kerry mid-morning and move slowly across country. For the U.K they’ll be some patchy light rain across South Wales, western coasts and this band of light rain will move slowly inland through the late morning / afternoon. A messy day to forecast rain-wise with heavy rain for the south and west of Ireland, patchy rain across Scotland and also the south coast of England. As we progress through Tuesday, the wind strengthens through the morning and takes on a southerly aspect keeping the temperatures up. After dusk we see more general rain move into the south west of England, Wales and the west Midlands and this will push eastwards to cover all of the U.K overnight. Continuing mild with that southerly air stream keeping temperatures up in the mid-teens for all areas.

No surprise then that Wednesday starts wet for most areas of the U.K though they’ll be some gaps in the rain by the morning rush hour. Ireland looks to start dry on Wednesday after a miserable Tuesday. Plenty of rain around for the U.K through Wednesday with the main band lying across central and eastern areas though West Wales will see some as well I am afraid. During the afternoon, some of this rain will push up into South Munster and Leinster as well and move northwards. Scotland starts damp across central areas but this will clear for a while before more rain pushes in from lunchtime from the south. Strong southerly winds will become a feature of our weather from Tuesday / Wednesday and the high wind speed will peg temperatures down into the low teens for most areas. As we go through the evening that rain will push northwards clearing southern and central areas.

Thursday sees a continuation of the unsettled weather with a band of heavy rain stretching north-east from The Isle of Wight across The Irish Sea to Donegal at dawn. They’ll also be some rain and wintry showers for the far north-east of Scotland. As we progress through the morning that rain front forms into two distinct bands, one moving along the south coast, the other across the north-west of England / Borders. By dusk this rain is projected to push up into central and eastern England. Ireland looks to have a wet start but that rain will clear from the south through the morning to give more in the way of sunshine through the day. They’ll still be some showers around across Connacht though, so not entirely dry though these should clear through the afternoon. Scotland sees a dry start but that rain will push up from the south and may fall as wintry showers over higher ground as we see a cooler day for Thursday with more typical temperatures for this time of year. Further south it’ll stay windy from the south and that’ll keep temperatures around the low double figures as per Wednesday.

Friday sees more rain for the west and south-west overnight pushing eastwards during the early hours. By dawn this rain band will stretch across the entire length of the country. Ireland looks to start dry with some pleasant sunshine though they’ll still be a risk of showers around across the far north west and south-east of the country. Through Friday morning that vertical band of rain will move eastwards so by the early afternoon it will lie across the east of the U.K eventually clearing by dusk. Some Friday will see a wet start for the west but clearing east through the day. By dusk we have a nearly dry picture across the U.K and Ireland but it won’t last long because another rain front is projected to push into the south-west of Ireland and England on Friday evening. Some of this rain will be heavy. and will push across the U.K overnight to give a very wet end to the week. (Yeah right, seen it all before, it’ll just go around Leicestershire as it has done all year 🙂 Still with that strong southerly wind on Friday reaching gale force through the latter part of the day and similar temperatures to Thursday just breaking into double figures.

So overnight into Saturday looks potentially very wet for all areas with some pretty decent heavy rain, they’re giving 12mm – 24mm across the U.K. Most of this will have cleared east by dawn so that means Ifor will be busy bailing the boats out on Saturday morning before we hop in. As the Unisys GIF’s show above for the first part of Saturday, we are in the grip of a very deep low pressure system and a trough system so although the rain will move off it isn’t going anywhere fast and will simply loop around over the weekend for round 2. The one change though is that the wind will swing westerly but still be pretty strong. So Saturday looks like being a sunshine and showers day for everyone accompanied by strong westerly winds.  Sunday will be similar with probably more in the way of showers across the west. It’ll feel on the cool side because of those winds pulling down northerly air initially as part of the low pressure system and then swinging it in from the west.

Weather Outlook

So low pressure dominating at the moment but will it last, that’s the question for me ?

Well the indications are that a cool low trough pattern will remain next week and this can clearly be seen looking at the Unisys GIF for mid-week, next week above. I’m not sure how much rain will be associated with it though because at present it looks like a sunshine and showers sort of scenario for the start of next week accompanied by strong winds. Heavier rain for Ireland and the west expected next Wednesday and this is set to move across country through the day. By the end of next week that low is still with us though the isobars are stretching out meaning a drop in wind speed as we progress through the week. If I ‘Mystic Meg’d it’, I think we will take on a more northerly air stream at the end of next week and look to stay in an unsettled and wet pattern for November with the odd lull in between one low moving away and another coming to play.

Agronomic Notes

OK, since it’s the first blog of November I’ll take this opportunity to look back at October, it certainly was an interesting month weather-wise. (aren’t they all)

GDD Comparison – Location – Thame, Oxfordshire

So looking at October it was a sort of in-between month GDD-wise, certainly not the mildest and not the coolest. That’s because of the cooler end to the month which dropped the GDD total considerably. (and disease activity to boot) You can see this in the daily GDD graph below put together by the ever-efficient Wendy 🙂

The last 4 days of October which traditionally can be pretty mild recorded no GDD at all due to some heavy frosts. So that’s why October ended up as a middle of the road month or more precisely a month of two halves, the first mild culminating in very mild weather mid-month and then followed by a cold end.

So y.t.d. we are just behind last year now but I think with 24 GDD projected for the next 7 days of November and a mild start beforehand, we may well end up overtaking 2017 as the warmest GDD year. That said, we may pick up the much-heralded Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event at the end of November and that’ll plunge us into an icy December, I hope so as it’s about time I took some money off Paddy Power betting on a White Christmas 🙂

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – U.K Locations

Looking at the stats above it would appear (not for the first time it has to be said) that our far south-west U.K location (Okehampton)  is doing a very passable impression of our south-west Ireland location, Valentia.

Both of them always seem to come in high in rainfall and exchanging emails with the U.K site, they report only 3 completely dry weeks in the whole of 2018, I bet the same is true for Kerry !

Aside from Devon you can see a lot of consistency in the stats in terms of monthly rainfall with 50mm pretty much the average for the 6 sites measured. Now I know this is only a small snapshot across the U.K, but it’s all I have to work with currently. All sites showed the same drop off at the end of October with no growth at all in the last 4 days.

Looking at the Irish locations we have a similar pattern to the U.K with the furthest south-west location, Valentia coming in the wettest and then very similar rainfall totals across the other locations. Quite a difference in GDD with the south-west locations picking up the milder air stream and hence higher GDD and the north and east picking up the colder, drier air. You can see the difference in growth between Dublin and Cork particularly towards the end of October.

Consequences of milder November conditions

As commented upon last week there are two sides to every coin and the milder and wetter weather anticipated for this week will give us some up sides.

Not least sustained recovery from aeration / renovation work on drought-damaged areas as the soil temperature (already rising to 11°C here) will hold through the next 7-10 days minimum.

It would be a good time to get some granular fertility down on renovated and other areas that just need a pick me up. With the advent of the stronger wind and rainfall later this week, you’ll get a much better response from a granular fertiliser than you will a liquid, they’ll be less potential leaching as well.

With plenty of voids about on grass swards courtesy of a stressy summer and dry autumn, moss is very evident and so knocking this back with a granular high iron product may be timely. Of course the other positive (although some of you may not see it that way granted) is that we are set to pick up a good amount of rain which in some areas (not all for sure) we are direly in need of.

Upcoming Disease Pressure

Of course there’s another side to this coin and that’s disease pressure. With the wind dropping and humidity carrying over from yesterday we have seen an increase in disease pressure overnight and that will continue through today into tomorrow. In the disease mapping graphic above you can see the pressure building through  4th, 5th November and peaking on the 6th November before declining as the wind speed strengthens and reduces the humidity. In my experience, windy and wet weather doesn’t tend to encourage high levels of disease activity and that’s because of it’s effect on humidity and the reduction in dew levels.

I know I promised to put together a piece on autumn aeration timing but that will have to wait now till next week as it is time to face the in-tray of life 🙁

Al the best for the coming week…

Mark Hunt