October 29th


Hi All,

Firstly an apology for the late publishing of the blog over the last few weeks. Apparently it’s being done on a different platform now with a different ‘support team’ who clearly can’t tell the time. I don’t think it’s acceptable to email you guys at 7p.m. in the evening so please accept my apologies for this. We are working on a better solution.

Ok, onto the weather and it is quite a change from the usual weather pattern for this time of year with an absolutely brass monkeys weekend, particularly on Saturday which for us in The Midlands was damp, cold, sleety and grim. I was fishing and it got to the point where I couldn’t feel my finger tips I was that cold.(still caught though :))

This week of the year has more often than not been mild, muggy and warm with high day and night temperatures, but as we can see from the graphics above, that certainly isn’t the case this morning with a hard frost for October !

Last week the projections for this week were cold and settled breaking down into a milder, wetter, south-westerly air stream, but were they correct ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts with a cracking deep frost in many locations and lots of bright winter sunshine. A good day for winter projects. That’s the way it looks across nearly all of the U.K and Ireland, note I say ‘nearly all’ because the west coast of Ireland looks to flirt with a heavy rain band and at this stage the projections are that it’ll push about 50-70 miles (my guess) inland all the way from Kerry up to Donegal making landfall mid-morning. Elsewhere it’ll be bright, dry and cold with temperatures maybe not even breaking into double figures. Enjoy it though because a change is on the way. Wind-wise we will still have that north-easterly in situ, though it may be more easterly further north and that’ll give significant windchill.

Onto Tuesday and it may not as cold overnight with more cloud cover around. Now here’s an interesting one as a band of heavy rain is projected to push over from France into south-east and eastern England after midnight, caused by a Bay of Biscay low pushing up from France. This band of rain will extend northwards through the morning and as it meets colder air across the north-east of England and eastern Scotland, there’s a chance that the rain will become more wintry. The projections are that the rain will push inland to around the A1 sort of area and no further westwards but we will see, continental rain is notoriously difficult to predict. We may also see some rain later in the day for Kerry and around mid-north Wales as well. Across Ireland that rain front will push cloud ahead of it so a much duller day here, the same for Scotland. In between that rain sandwich, they’ll be a strip of clear, colder and brighter weather conditions. The wind swings round overnight to a more north-westerly perspective and picks up some force to become strong to gusty through the day and swinging round to westerly at close of play. Similar temperatures to Monday with high single figures and maybe a risk of ground frost on Tuesday night in sheltered areas if the skies clear.

Wednesday sees that low push north and east into Scandinavia leaving us a cold and settled day and a slightly milder one as the wind is from the south-west for most. As well as a milder air stream, that shift in wind direction will push in some showers off The Irish Sea across North Wales and into north-west England as well. Later in the morning we will also see some showers crossing the west coast of Ireland and north-west Scotland. The showers will consolidate into heavier rain across the west and Midlands of Ireland towards dusk and push into the north-east of England. Slightly milder temperatures in that south-west wind just breaking into the double figures across the south of the U.K, but across Ireland and Scotland you may stay a couple of degrees below this.

Onto Thursday and a pretty ‘busy’ weather picture with a band of rain moving overnight off the continent into the south-east and east of England. At the same time we see a westerly rain front pushing into the western coastline of the U.K bringing some showers to The South West and Wales. The heavier rain though will be across The Lakes and extend northwards into the west of Scotland where it’ll become increasingly wintry in nature across higher ground. By mid-morning most of that rain should have cleared away to leave brighter conditions behind for most of the U.K and Ireland. The exception could be a condensed band of wintry showers over the central highlands of Scotland. A much better 2nd half of the day, still with the risk of showers across north-western coasts and western Scotland, but away from this, dry, bright and cool with the temperatures stubbornly staying in the high single figures.

Image courtesy of Unisys Weather

Closing out a busy weather week and the above picture sets the scene not just for the 2nd half of Friday but also the weekend as well. The Unisys graphic above shows a very deep Atlantic low that is due to swing in on Friday so after a quiet start for most places,  we will see rain push into Ireland from before dawn. This will quickly push across the country if anything intensifying over south-west Munster. By mid-morning it’ll be into The South West and South Wales and thereafter it’ll push quickly eastwards with some heavy rain predicted for West and South Wales. During the early afternoon it’ll have reached the north-west and west of Scotland and as we approach dusk, it’ll be pretty much countrywide bar maybe the north-east tip of Scotland. The only consolation for what looks like a pretty grim day is that it’ll feel milder (the rain will be warmer) in a strong south-westerly wind with temperatures into double and nudging the teens.

So no surprise then that the weekend looks pretty unsettled, wet and very, very windy, especially on Saturday. On the plus side if you’re on Strava, a great opportunity to get a KOM with that following wind 🙂 So Saturday looks unsettled from the off with that overnight rain still ever-present. Through the morning it should clear the south of England and most of Ireland, though showers will remain. The heaviest rain as usual when we talk Atlantic low pressure systems will be reserved for the north and west with The Lakes in particularly looking very wet. Dull and mild(ish) away from the rain with temperatures again into double figures. As mentioned earlier with packed isobars it’ll be very windy. Sunday starts off with a showery outlook but that low is spinning around again on lap 2 and if anything it’ll sink further south to bring heavy rain to Ireland for the 2nd half of Sunday before this pushes into Wales and England later on Sunday. A cooler feel to the weather on Sunday as well.

Image courtesy of Unisys

Weather Outlook

The above GIF shows the pronounced ‘trough’ pattern at the beginning of next week and that means the low pressure that we are due to receive at the weekend isn’t going anywhere fast.

A trough pattern in the jetstream means sequential low pressure systems can just slip down into it giving successive bouts of heavy rain and that’s what we are likely to see next week. So Monday looks to start the week extremely wet with heavy rain forecast for the west of the U.K initially pushing south and east across the southern half of the U.K and sparing the north and Scotland from the worst. Tuesday sees a quieter day but that lull will be a temporary one because Wednesday will see a new low enter into the picture and bring heavy rain for The South West, Wales and the south of England. Thursday again sees a lull before the possibility of a new low for Friday / next weekend as that trough shows no sign of shifting. With the centre of the low pressure systems located south of the U.K, I think Ireland, the north of England and Scotland will miss the worst of this rainfall and here will just be unsettled.

Agronomic Notes

Since we are nearly out of October let’s finish off the exercise I did mid-month looking at how October 2018 has tracked vs. 2017 / 2016. The 2nd half of October 2018 finished off a good bit cooler than the two previous years and that’s meant good news for fungicide longevity and disease activity (or lack of it).

Below is the relative G.P for the last 3 October’s.

You can see the previous two mild and muggy Halloween’s compared to this one which will be on the nippy side. (Cue multiple Supermarket hype followed by Black Friday and Christmas, all Hampsters to the wheel 🙁 ).

This October we have had that cold, Arctic air stream with snow in places at the weekend and that has depressed air temperature and of course Growth Potential. As with most aspects of turf management there are two sides to every coin and the plus side of this one is undoubtedly reduced Microdochium nivale pressure along with extended fungicide longevity due to the low grass growth rate.

Below shows a comparison of October 2018 vs. 2017 / 2016 assuming a fungicide application was made on October 1st. Just like in 2017, we had a really tough situation mid-month with a peak in Growth Potential coinciding with a peak in Microdochium nivale activity. That meant a lot of fungicide applications were on their way out just when disease pressure ramped up. (see below)


As mentioned above there is a flipside to this coin and that comes in the form of lower soil temperatures which will slow germination and new seedling growth from the very many overseeding / renovation processes carried out during September and October.

That said I reckon the soil temperature will pick up as we go into November because the rain we are forecast will come on a milder air stream so that will increase the soil temperature nicely.

I know the prognosis for the end of the week onwards looks wet but to be honest in a lot of places in the U.K we desperately need the rain with low ground water levels and restrictions on the horizon for 2019 if we don’t get sufficient rain over the autumn / winter. So in other words, we shouldn’t moan because we need it.

Disease Pressure Outlook

Looking at the next 7 days the prognosis from our disease projection models is for low Microdochium pressure so that’s October taken care of disease-wise.

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops through November because I keep seeing chatter about the possibility of a Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event during November, which would be remarkably early. If you remember, we had one of these earlier in the year and it was responsible for the very cold (and wet) end to winter 2017 / 18.

Hopefully it is just meteorological speculation.

We can’t be complacent though because December has bit us in the you-know-what Microdochium-wise in 2017 and 2016 with a very mild run of weather in the first week of the month and over the Christmas period. I still get the feeling we are in for a cold one, as nature continues to confirm, with lots of Waxwings, Redwings and Fieldfares arriving from the east, so we will see.

Ok that’s it for this week, I hope to see some of you at Saltex if you are attending and unlike last year, I will make sure I turn up for my allocated presentation slot at 12pm, Thursday 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt