Monthly Archives: May 2019

May 28th

Hi All,

This past weekend we got our anticipated change in the weather with a drop off in temperature, E.T and even some rainfall for some.

There were some whacking showers around as this pic taken from a choppy Eyebrook fly fishing session testifies and as usual here in Market Harborough we did our best to miss them until last night when we picked up a blessed 3.3mm 🙂

As we saw temperatures (and E.T rates) rising recently, many of us in central and southern U.K cast a nervous eye to our water reserves and wonder how we are going to look at the end of this summer, going into the coming one so dry.

Fortunately we look to return to an unsettled outlook after a brief warm spell at the end of this week but realistically we are not going to get a top up of ground water levels from now on unless something extremely bizarre occurs weather-wise.

General Weather Situation

No surprise then that Tuesday dawns with a sunshine and showers outlook for the day. The showers will have a mainly eastern orientation pushed along on a brisk north-west wind but already I see some clusters across The South West, Wales and north-west England. Scotland sees an unsettled start to the day, particularly for the east as a band of heavy showers pushes down the eastern coastline across Fife and into The North East of England. Ireland looks to start mainly dry today with some showers feeding in across Co. Kerry, plenty of cloud around though for what may be the driest day of the week in Eire. The wind will swing around to the north during the day so that’ll cap temperatures in the mid-teens, quite a bit down on the weekend. The south of England may pull up those temperatures into the high teens if the sun breaks through. No real point putting any more detail on the showers and their likelihood, better to watch your rain radar, scroll it back to see their orientation and tracking and then see if you’ll be lucky or not.

Onto Wednesday and overnight a heavy rain front has pushed into Ireland and moved across The Irish Sea into the The South West and West Wales. Through the course of the morning this will move eastwards into central and southern areas and then push further east through the afternoon to reach eastern counties of England. The main area of rain is really from Lancashire / Yorkshire south and as usual with western rain, it’ll be drier and arrive later in eastern counties. Ireland looks to have a wet day with that rain clearing the south of Leinster and Munster through late afternoon but staying localised across Connacht and North Leinster into the evening. Later it’ll move into Northern Ireland. A change in the wind on Wednesday swinging round to southerly / south westerlies and backing off a tad as well. With plenty of cloud cover and rain showers around though it won’t pick up the temperature much from mid to high teens again.

Thursday sees the wind strengthen from the west after a very mild night and that’ll push temperatures up significantly into the mid to high teens depending on your location. Still plenty of rain around but the change in wind direction means it’ll be moving across Ireland into North Wales, the north of England and Scotland with a really wet day likely over Connacht, North Munster, Northern Ireland, The North West and Scotland. Further south we will be mainly dry with much less risk of showers compared to Tuesday and Wednesday. A very strong drying day I am afraid for the south of England with temperatures breaking 20°C and a strong westerly wind. Elsewhere for Ireland, the north and Scotland under that rain and cloud, expect nearer the mid-teens. A very wet day indeed for Ireland and Scotland.

Closing out the week on Friday we see that north-south divide continues as will the rain, stretching across Ireland through the north of England into Scotland. So this will continue a very wet week theme for Ireland and Scotland with heavy rain pushing in particularly over the 2nd half of the day. Further south we look to have a dry day, warm in slightly lighter, westerly winds and pleasant conditions with temperatures again just nudging into the 20’s. As we approach dusk that rain will fizzle out across Ireland and Scotland but it is still likely to stay over the north-west of England / south-west of Scotland.

The outlook for the weekend is mixed.

Saturday sees another very wet day for Ireland initially and then p.m. for Scotland with frequent showers and longer spells of rain. Another north-south divide as for central and southern regions we see temperatures climb into the low twenties with a strong south-westerly / westerly wind in situ. Overnight into Sunday we see a new low pressure system sink south and that’ll pull the winds round to the south-west and they will also strengthen. So windy and unsettled for Ireland, Scotland and the west of the U.K initially on Sunday before that rain drives eastwards to affect all areas. Still warm with temperatures in the low twenties across the south of England but only in the mid-teens for Ireland and Scotland.

Weather Outlook

If you’re desperate for rain you’ll be happy with then another week of low pressure systems dominating the weather picture but if you in Ireland or Scotland you’d have had a gut full of rain by the beginning of next week 🙁

So Monday looks to start extremely unsettled with low pressure firmly rooted over the U.K and Ireland. Wet then for Monday with some pretty heavy rain across the weather picture breaking down into showers for Tuesday. Staying on the cool side I’d say with 16-18°C likely across the week. Wet across the west on Tuesday with that rain pushing inland through into Wednesday so remaining unsettled across the U.K and Ireland. Thursday sees further rain, some of it heavy across the south of England. Above is a projected image for mid-week, next week and I have marked the area of trough pattern in the jet stream which will mean that the rain / unsettled conditions will not move quickly west to east and in fact there’s a suggestion that the low will move further south towards the end of next week pulling that rain further south for Thursday and Friday.

Agronomic Notes

OK, I’m going start this week’s blog talking about moisture deficit. Now I know you guys across in Ireland and up in Scotland will probably stare at this part of the blog and throw the odd curse / shrug but it is a fact that from The Humber south we are in trouble with respect to water and water reserves.

To get a handle on this I was lucky to get some up-to-date data from Sean at The Oxfordshire who is currently staring at the dark cloud pictured above heading his way and hoping it is going to rain…

Now rather than just demonstrating that we are dry, the recent weather has really hit areas of outfield turf that were still on their way back from the effects of last summer.

Let’s just consider that statement….

We are just short of tip-toeing into June 2019 and we are still talking about the effects of last summer 2018 on our turf condition.

Below are some pertinent facts and timescales…

  • Highest E.T / Lowest rainfall period we have measured from June – August 2018.
  • Driest summer since 1976 in some regions.
  • Moisture deficit on 31st August 2018 measured from June 1st was  -274.4mm. (9.8″ rainfall)
  • Moisture deficit didn’t begin reducing significantly till 13th October, 2018.
  • Combined moisture deficit over April and May, 2019 was -99.5mm (3.5″ rainfall)
  • On 27th May, 2019 we are at the same point as we were at the end of last summer from a moisture deficit perspective.

Ours therefore is not an industry of short-term effects and change, we are dealing with nature and a weather dynamic. For sure with products and irrigation we can do our best to gain the most significant result from manipulating that dynamic, but the fact remains that on outfield turf we are at the behest of Mother Nature and if she isn’t smiling your way, then you better just grit your teeth and bare it.

April – May, 2019

Looking at the above chart you can see that the beginning of April gave us some respite, albeit temporary with a useful dollop of rain at this location. From the 15th of April though we went into moisture deficit and this largely continued unhindered through into May (two days of rain on the 8th and 9th) and really ramped up over the last two weeks with high E.T and next to no rainfall.

For this location, the last two weeks reads, total rainfall – 0.4mm, total E.T – 57.4mm with an average daily E.T of 3.8mm. So if you have dry areas on your outfield it isn’t difficult to work out why.

More to the point if you overseeded those areas last autumn / this spring then you may be looking at a pretty indifferent result dependent on how / when you did the work, how much organic matter you removed (or needed to remove) and what grass species you used.

Lots of variables there for sure and because we are talking about outfield turf it is very resource-dependent i.e we are trying to effect a change on large areas. Not everyone has the machinery, manpower and budget to carry out this work. It is also fair to say that until last summer, we were probably carrying surplus levels of organic matter on some areas without it causing too much of an issue. This all changed from June last year onwards as consistent high temperatures and E.T heated up that organic matter and dehydrated the grass to such a point that it checked out.

Against the perceived wisdom from a grass species perspective, it was Fescue that not only checked out but also didn’t come back when rainfall finally arrived. Personally I wonder about the role organic matter production and Fescue as a grass species played in this scenario. We know that Fescue swards will accumulate fibre because of the high lignin content of its roots which makes it slow to degrade / breakdown. We also know that organic matter heats up faster than a rootzone and that some outfield areas were carrying > 25% organic matter in the top 25mm. So we had a potential recipe for failure and last summers driest since 1976 exposed that failing. Now I am certainly not anti-Fescue or any other grass species because we know that all grass species have baggage but we must be realistic at the same time and learn from our observations.

Certainly when you consider the graph below, we need every little bit of help Mother Nature grants us going into this summer…

 

Sorry once again for dominating this blog with discussion about water or lack of it for those lads and lasses over in Ireland / Scotland who are probably more interested in drainage at the moment !

Weather Windows….

Looking at the weather this week we have some options available with good spray windows at the end of this week for foliar applications with good uptake conditions for PGR, nutrition and selective herbicide. Similarly getting a wetting agent down (or a penetrant in very wet areas) could be pertinent with next week’s unsettled outlook and high wind levels.  We also should have one eye on when we will get the first proper heat of summer and maybe consider PGR’ing our outfield turf to hold back its growth going into this period in order to conserve water usage. Timing is everything here.

OK, I’m off on my hols next week to the beautiful Cevenne area of France for some good walking, eating, bird and butterfly watching, a bit of kayaking and if I can drag my ageing body upwards, some mountain running as well. I will try and get a mini weather update out next Monday depending on WiFi signal 🙂

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt

 

 

May 20th

Hi All,

After rain and then some decent temperatures over the last couple of weeks, everything is growing at a rate of knots. The edges of fields that I walked through 2 weeks ago are now knee-high in grass with Cow Parsley (we call it Keck here), Pink,Red Campion, Vetch, Nettles and Cleavers shooting up from the verges.

May is definitely a growing month and I absolutely love the freshness of the countryside at this time of year. Some of you may already be looking ahead to the May Bank Holiday and wondering what that’ll bring weather-wise, well it is finely balanced, more on that later….

Image courtesy of https://johnmcphee.co.uk/photos/

Before I go onto my weather blog, big shout out to Scotland’s John McPhee for winning only his second Moto3 GP yesterday at Le Mans, cracking to watch…..well ridden John….

Tempus fugit this week so it’s onto the weather without further ado

General Weather Situation

Not a bad day to start the week with as Monday dawns with hazy sunshine and some cloud cover from the off after a mild (ish) night. Following a similar pattern to yesterday the morning looks dry but as we head to the afternoon, the combination of warm temperatures and humid air will kick off some sharp convection showers anywhere from the south east coast of England up through eastern counties and following a line along the M11  (not for the first time eh?). At the same time we will also see some more consolidated rain push into the south coast of England and the north-east of Ireland. Expect some showers as well across The Highlands of Scotland during the afternoon, some of these showers will be sharp. Ireland looks to have a dry day before some showers may bubble up across east Leinster later in the afternoon. Generally more cloud across Ireland so a little cooler. As we go through the evening those showers will rumble on and across Scotland those showers will form a more concentrated band of rain across The Highlands and north-east Scotland with some heavy rain to end the day here. A lovely day really for most with light to moderate north-westerly winds and temperatures between 15-18°C depending on cloud cover.

Tuesday sees that rain over the north-east of Scotland largely fizzled out but it won’t be going away entirely. Elsewhere another nice start to the day with hazy sunshine and light winds and climbing temperatures. That rain over north-east Scotland looks to drift south into central Scotland through the morning. Elsewhere dry with hazy sunshine and pleasant temperatures with perhaps more in the way of sunshine, especially for the west and no repeat of those sharp showers. A light to moderate north-westerly wind for the U.K (southerly for Ireland I think) and temperatures up in their high teens for everyone except Central Scotland.

Wednesday sees the U.K and Ireland under the influence of high pressure but sandwiched between two low pressure systems, one inbound from The Atlantic, one over the continent. It is this weather dynamic that is shaping the end of week / Bank Holiday weather and I think it will be very unpredictable to say the least. For the time being though Wednesday looks like serving out another largely dry day with plenty of sunshine and climbing temperatures, in the high teens for most and nudging 20°C across the south of England. Winds will be north-westerly / westerly and light to moderate.

Overnight into Thursday and we see a weather front from that Atlantic low push into the west of Ireland and move eastwards so by dawn it’ll be straddled across the country. Further east for the U.K we look to have another lovely start to the day with bright sunshine and warm temperatures. During the late morning cloud will build from the north and west and we will see the first rain across West Wales during the early afternoon. This will be joined by outbreaks of showers across the west / north-west coastline of the U.K. Ireland looks to stay unsettled and wet throughout the day. Quite a temperature contrast then with Ireland in the mid-teens and the U.K in the high teens / low twenties. The wind will swing westerly through the morning and begin to freshen through the afternoon.

Closing out the week on Friday and those showers over Ireland remain, maybe more westerly in orientation on Friday compared to Thursday. Those showers over the western coastline of the U.K have consolidated overnight into heavier spells of rainfall and these will move inland across Wales, North England, The Midlands and the south of England during the morning. Scotland and The Borders looks to have a lower risk of these showers and should have a pleasantly warm, if a little dull sort of day. By lunchtime the whole of the U.K looks pretty wet and for Ireland the rain will have cleared western coasts but not for long as another front is incoming. During the 2nd half of the day that rain spreads north into southern Scotland and consolidates. As we go through Friday evening that rain will move eastwards clearing Ireland from the west. Cooler on Friday with that thicker cloud cover and rain so down to the mid-teens I am afraid.

Now onto the Bank Holiday weekend and this one is a real tricky call because the outlook keeps changing from a GFS forecast point of view swinging wildly from washout to not so bad….

So my take looking at the current GFS output is this…..

Saturday will see probably the nicest day for everyone as high pressure pushes into the southern half of the U.K and Ireland, however the north / Scotland will be closest to the Atlantic low pressure system so as we go through the latter part of Saturday, a north-south divide will occur. Through the course of Saturday / Sunday the low pressure will re-establish its influence moving southwards and pushing the high out. This means that the north / Scotland will turn unsettled with cooler conditions and rain from Sunday and the south will hang onto better conditions through Sunday with that cooler, more unsettled weather arriving on Monday. Ireland being closer to the low will probably get the wrong end of the weather stick with wetter conditions expected in the west on Saturday and moving eastwards through the day to make Sunday and Monday pretty wet days as well. (but of course it is not your Bank Holiday thankfully)

Now this weather dynamic between the low and high pressure may well change as we go through the week but the above is my interpretation of 3 GFS outputs…..If they’re right, the beginning of next week will be cool, wet and unsettled and that may extend through next week.

Weather Outlook

As hinted above, next week’s weather is finely balanced between a Bay of Biscay high pressure obviously sitting south of the U.K and a northerly Atlantic low pressure system. Currently GFS output has the low dominating and keeping the high pressure to the south and that allows a strong westerly airflow with plenty of rain. Now that dynamic only has to tweak a little and that rain may push further northwards and not across the south of England.

My take is that the low pressure systems will win the day and I don’t seem to be the only one as I note the precipitation probabilities on Meteoblue are very high for a week out…

Not great amounts of rain shown yet but that will definitely change. So my take on next week is for a wet Monday, an unsettled but drier Tuesday before more heavier rain arrives on Wednesday. Thereafter unsettled with the threat of more rain arriving later in the week. Cool, mid-teens temperatures will prevail with reasonable night temperatures because of cloud cover so in other words good growing weather…

Agronomic Notes

Seedheads….

As predicted in a previous blog, the combination of rainfall and warmer weather has pushed Poa annua back into life but since it had already started its seedhead development, that’s what a lot of people have seen as consequence…seedheads.

I think the picture above was where Poa annua was sitting during that dry spell, i.e with seedhead formed but not visible and down ‘in the boot’ as they say. Once conditions changed the seedhead and panicle were quickly elevated above the canopy. This puts it out of sync a little with GDD because although GDD were advancing, the lack of rainfall had kept Poa from growing so realistically we can expect a few more weeks of seedhead flush before it begins to fade. The change from warmer weather to cooler conditions if it comes to pass will help in this process.

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Growth Outlook

As you can see from the Meteoturf above, the projected GDD total is 57 and 5.4 for total G.P, that means we are averaging 8GDD, 0.77 G.P per day, that’s 77% of optimal growth. So outfield areas provided you’ve managed to pick up some moisture lately will be getting a shift on and greens also will continue to display consistent growth. A couple of cooler nights at the beginning of this week will give way to more growth at that latter part of the week as cloud cover moves in. With light winds and dry weather this week on the whole and a potentially wet outlook for next week, we have a great opportunity to keep things under control from a PGR perspective.

Now some of you will be looking at areas that have been overseeded maybe last autumn, maybe dormant-seeded this spring and may well be wondering should I apply a PGR ?

The consensus seems to be that once you have a mature sward and good grass coverage (canopy closure) then you are fine to apply a PGR. On the contrary if your grass is still early in establishment then it is best to leave it, particularly if you are contemplating a high rate application of Trinexapac-ethyl (TE)   You may have a little more leeway with ryegrass because as a species it is least-affected by the application of TE.

So for me this week is about getting things under control, getting foliar applications out, PGR’s, selective herbicides, etc and this will be particularly important if we lose potential spray windows next week with the potential for unsettled conditions.

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Microdochium nivale

As you might expect with warmth and moisture there’s still disease pressure out there. As the above graphic taken from my Netatmo data shows we are running some pretty close air temperature / dewpoint data and that means high localised humidity on the plant leaf and a greater risk of Microdochium nivale. On the plus side with good GDD / G.P, we should be growing it out easily enough.

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Leatherjackets

I see there is lots of discussion on Twitter and feedback from the field on these fellers. Without a doubt population levels are high this spring and with no effective control in agriculture I guess the problem is likely to escalate. Now we were in a very fortunate position with a product like Chlorpyrifos, it was cheap and effective though if you remember once the larvae reach a certain size / instar growth stage, the chemical was much less effective (because the high fat content of the grub protected its central nervous system).

Last week saw the emergency approval of Acelepryn for 2019 with an expanded label. (https://www.greencast.co.uk/product/crop-protection/insecticide/acelepryn).

Last year I think it is fair to say that efficacy of this product on Leather jackets was mixed, some people saw less activity and consequently less damage by Badgers and Corvids, others did not experience good control.

Now we in an analogous situation to fungicides here, in that older versions were more effective and the newer registered products less so and therefore we have to approach the problem differently than in the past. It isn’t just a case of using Acelepryn like Chlorpyrifos, nor is it likely to be with a higher cost per hectare and usage restricted to one application.

Continuing that analogy, timing is everything and that’s probably a lesson we learnt last year. There’s some good advice on Greencast with reference to this but specifically when we talk about Leatherjackets, it is a complicated subject. As a fly fisherman I’ve noted adult Crane Fly on the wing for the last 10-14 days here in my location in The Midlands, it will be different in other areas of the U.K because of temperature anomalies and soil type. So it won’t be a one size fits all, we / you will need to understand life cycles much better and above all get the material into the ground prior to egg hatch so it has time to get into the soil as the grubs are emerging. In my mind that kind of rules out usage now because most of the grubs are at a later instar stage than the product will control and the main population – egg laying period will be in the late summer / early autumn as per usual. Remember if you apply now then that’s your one app per year gone.

Here’s some pertinent points on the Syngenta factsheet that you can access here

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Pest Tracker

To help build a countrywide database Syngenta are asking for your help in logging which species you have noted and where, simply by entering the species and your postcode in a PestTracker form. You can access it here

You can then see how the populations / reports are building for each species on a mapping tool accessible here

So hopefully with more data, better information, more site condition-specific recommendations will follow and these will increase the efficacy of the product.

Tempus does indeed fugit my friends as my 1 p.m. publishing deadline approaches so I must depart this blog 🙂

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

May 13th

Hi All,

Well we got the rain last week, nice and steady so it went into the profile rather than running off. It wasn’t all steady rain though as I observed first hand whilst out mountain biking on Friday evening. This gnarly bit of torrential rain had me reaching for my waterproof jacket as soon as it came into view. It stalked me on my route before embracing me with a cracking downpour that soaked me down to my gruts. It was interesting though that by Sunday afternoon the fields that I walked on were already dry and the streams and ditches showed the lack of run off which in a way is good.

When you look at the picture of this golf course a number of different sentiments may come to mind. It is the classic, early 90’s, American-style golf course, lots of earth moving and sand during the construction and probably not what you’d immediately associate with good environment for nature.  But you’d be wrong as it represents a thriving environment for birds , mammals and insects.

The fact that through the efforts of the course manager it has a thriving Owl and Kestrel population with Tawny, Barn and Little Owls all in residence and doing well. This in contrast to their broad decline in our monosward-style countryside is a source of credit and hope for the future. It also shows you don’t have to be on a heathland or links golf course to have creditable environmental credentials. Just a bit of will, money and resource at home and at work gives nature a helping hand and one it so desperately needs.

OK time to get off nature’s soapbox and onto what is a nicely predictable weather forecast for some of this week anyway because after the rain comes the sunshine and then maybe (maybe) a bit more rain…(for some)

General Weather Situation

So a very straight-forward weather forecast for the first 3-4 days of the week with high pressure in charge meaning long spells of warm sunshine, very little in the way of cloud cover, maybe more across Ireland, the east of Scotland and The North-East. Night time temperatures in the mid to high single figures and increasing as we go through the week, with Scotland looking like it will top the temperatures for the U.K with low twenties vs. high teens maybe just touching 20°C for the rest of the U.K and Ireland. Winds look to be moderate and easterly for the U.K and southerly for Ireland as you’re on the tuther side of the high pressure.

So we move rapidly onto Thursday and here we see the first part of a change in the weather as although dry Thursday will feature more in the way of cloud pushing in from the east for the 2nd part of the day so for western coasts, Wales and Ireland you should still have a cracking day of sunshine. It’ll stay warm with similar temperatures to earlier in the week though dipping from the east as that cloud advances on Thursday.  So I’d say 16°C under the cloud and maybe 20 °C for the west and north. The wind will be moderate to fresh and from the east – north-east.

Onto Friday and a Bay of Biscay low begins to influence our weather so by dawn we see that cloud cover has extended to cover most of the U.K. We will also see some showers pushing in from The Wash into East Anglia and The Midlands from early doors. Later these may cross over into Wales for the end of the day. Most areas staying dry though but since we are talking continental rainfall we have to throw our usual caveat into the ring.  So a duller day on Friday for most areas with maybe Ireland and Scotland holding onto more in the way of sunshine and temperature. Notably cooler though as that drop in temperature continues with only low teens for central U.K whilst Ireland and Scotland will remain in the mid-high teens.

So how does the outlook for the weekend look ?

Well not exactly brill, but not hopeless either to be honest with more cloud cover and some rain around as well but temperatures should recover somewhat. Saturday looks to start dry and dull for most but rain is due to push up from the south and south-east during the morning and into the afternoon. Expect some showers as well across South Munster through Saturday morning. Since we are talking about a Bay of Biscay low pressure it means most of the rain will be southern U.K / Ireland-orientated through the weekend. Ironically with this change in weather, the south will pick up a north / north-east wind but slightly better temperatures, back up into the mid to high teens across Saturday and Sunday. Sunday follows a similar pattern with showers across the south of England, a few pushing north before a more consolidated rain front pushes in to affect the southern half of the country. Away from this it’ll be cloudy with sunny intervals and reasonable temperatures. Expect rainfall amounts to change on your forecast this week up to the weekend as forecasters try to make sense of this tricky-to-predict type of weather pattern.

Image courtesy of meteocentre.com

Weather Outlook

So next week is a tricky one to call aside from saying that Portugal, Spain and France look to be in line a real deluge and since the low is slow-moving I expect some severe flooding in places.

For the U.K and Ireland we have a complex weather picture (see above) that could really go either way. We have that Bay of Biscay low and a developing Atlantic low squeezing out the high pressure system that will bring us lovely weather this week. I think we will see showers still across the southern half of the U.K through the early part of next week with other areas remaining dry before low pressure begins to push more unsettled conditions into the north and north-west later on next week. The smart money is on low pressure dominating for the coming Bank Holiday weekend if only because as soon as the villages round here start advertising local fetes, it yaks it down 🙂 So unsettled in the south of the U.K and Ireland through next week, drier and probably warmer further north before the weather settles down at the end of the week only for low pressure to push in for the 2nd half of the Bank Holiday. That’s my take on it…

Agronomic Notes

Growth Outlook

As predicted last week we have a much better growth proposition going forward this week with consistently good daily Growth Potential for the U.K and Ireland. Slightly cooler nights for the first part of the week will hold things back nicely but as cloud cover pushes in later in the week we lose this feature and in some areas (England) the G.P keeps rising. With last week’s rain and this growth outlook I’d expect surfaces to come on well and particularly Poa annua-dominated greens will shake off their “Don’t like this cold, dry weather” mood and swing more into line.

A great uptake window…

Again as predicted (yes I know but someone has to…) this week will present a great uptake window for a whole myriad of applications, be that selective herbicides, foliar feeds and probably most importantly, PGR’s, as things might need pegging back a bit if you get my drift. It is a funny old game turf management when we wait ages for consistent growth and then as soon as it comes we look at pegging it back 🙂

2019 now very similar to 2018 from a GDD-perspective…

If we look at how the 2019 GDD is tracking as we approach mid-May, we can see that this years cool April of 2019 has actually put us more or less bang on where we were at the same point last year give or take a day ( Cumulative GDD 2019 = 287 vs. cumulative GDD 2018 = 276 for this location)

If you follow the GDD curve for 2019 from this point it just kept piling on the GDD through June and July as well. I have a hunch we won’t follow the same pattern as summer 2018 in 2019 but we will see.

Water as a resource…

I know some of us have one eye on our water supply at the moment after a dry winter / spring in some geographical areas of the U.K & Ireland. Last summer left its mark on many an outfield that is still visible today so it was with interest that I received this document in my Inbox (Cheers Rob) detailing the Environmental Agency’s summary of irrigation / abstraction availability.

You can download the above document here

The red shading indicates areas of England that are classified as ‘POOR’ when it comes to groundwater levels and water availability with the yellow areas classified as ‘MODERATE’.

In the report it mentions that the long-term rainfall prospects for the summer are equal between above-average vs. below-average precipitation (which may be a meteorological way of sticking your finger in the air). There is however a consistent thread through the document that warns that with a dry winter followed by an extremely dry spring (for some central and eastern areas) there is a possibility of local restrictions. Personally looking at where we are water-wise locally in terms of low reservoir, river and pond levels and with the thousands of houses that are seemingly popping up everywhere with no corresponding investment in infrastructure, (no new reservoirs)I can’t see this being avoidable.

A well-timed PGR application can reap benefits in the summer

One lesson from last year from which I saw clear benefits from an outfield perspective ( in particular) was holding back growth with a high rate of PGR prior to the heat of the summer, It really extended plant viability by reducing growth and obviously plant water usage as a consequence. A bit early yet in May but the trick will be reading the weather right before we hit a prolonged hot spell and applying a PGR. Obviously this may not be workable on recently over-seeded areas where you really need to get mature plant coverage first before doing so because the PGR can adversely affect an immature grass plant. One to think about though maybe ?

Ok that’s me for another week, enjoy the sun, don’t forget your sun cream if you burn easily….

Al the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

May 7th

Hi All,

It has been a funny old year so far and this picture tells a number of stories….A very low water level (it’s normally up to the tree line), sharp showers, a peep of sunshine and then the next bank of showers running through. Our year seems very much to me to be stop-start, we have either had the temperature with no moisture or vice-versa. That said we definitely have put on some growth over the last 2 weeks because I walked on Sunday on paths I hadn’t walked for a fortnight and the grass, hedgerows, verges and crops had come on a bundle. What wasn’t in this picture were hundreds of Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows feeding up on a good buzzer hatch. I also saw my first Swifts yesterday and had a lovely low fly past (20ft away) by an Osprey. Sometimes nature by itself is such as tonic…

Looking at the forthcoming weather that could be next week as a wet, cool week this week looks to be followed by some better temperatures next week, so hang onto your hats on your outfield as the growth hand brake gets let off. I’d say that’s pretty typical for mid-May.

Let’s put some more detail on the weather ;

Image courtesy of Meteocentre.com

General Weather Situation

A wet cool week on the way but with low pressure in charge at least we get to lose those night frosts.

So Tuesday starts with a change in the wind, away from those cool north westerlies to south and eventually south-west. The image above highlights two low pressure systems heading our way and you can see their orientation is west and south of the U.K, so that’s the area in the firing line for the rain (some of you will be pleased to know). So starting off we see the first showers from that low pressure drifting in over the south and west of Ireland, the west coast of Scotland and the north of England, not to mention some just hanging off the east coast. Through the morning these showers will consolidate over Scotland and the north of England as well as Ireland with only Leinster missing most of the rain. Further south and east across the U.K will stay dry, but dull with very little chance of seeing much sun. Through the afternoon some of these showers will push into The Midlands and eastern England. The first rain from those Atlantic low pressure systems is due to make landfall tonight across the south-west of England and Ireland and overnight it will push north and east into southern England. I for one will be glued to the V8 Netweather radar before closing my eyes. So for Tuesday a coolish day again with temperatures creeping up into the mid-teens maybe but significantly cooler over Scotland barely breaking into double figures. Winds will be light and from the south-west / south and south-east.

Wednesday then sees that rain by dawn across the whole of the south of England, Wales and southern half of Ireland and it will move north into northern England and Scotland through the morning. It isn’t expected to clear the south coast of Ireland till the afternoon and probably not the south coast of England till dusk. So a pretty wet day for all on Wednesday with some significant rainfall totals and boy will I be a happy man if we get it :). Cool again for many as we might expect with this low pressure with an increasingly fresh south-easterly wind which will swing westerly through the 2nd part of the day. Expect low teens from a temperature perspective for Wednesday.

Thursday sees that low pressure pushing some welcome rain and milder temperatures into Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia. A dry (ish) start to the day but from the off expect to see showers over Scotland and the north of England / Ireland. Since the low is now to the east of us we will get winds from the north for Thursday so another chilly day with showers pushing down on that northerly wind through the course of Thursday morning. By the afternoon these showers will consolidate into a rain front for the north of Ireland, Scotland, northern England, Wales, The Midlands and The South East with only The South West and far south of England remaining dry. The same dynamic applies to Ireland with the rain probably getting as far south as Wexford before petering out to showers through the late afternoon / evening. A cool day as hinted above with the fresh to moderate northerly wind with temperatures lucky to climb up into low double figures for everyone.

Closing out a short week (for some) Friday looks to be a drier and possibly brighter day though still with the likelihood of showers for the north-west, northern England and East Anglia. Again these will bubble up through the morning and consolidate into longer spells of rain so if you start the day dry, you might not end it that way. A similar pattern for Ireland and Scotland but maybe less in the way of rain showers here and some chance of seeing sunny intervals over Ireland. These showers may hang around all day and really not peter out till dusk. Winds will swing round to westerly and be light to moderate so that’ll ease up temperatures by a couple of degrees compared to Thursday, expect 11-14°C.

So how does the weekend look ?

Well not too bad unless you are in Scotland which looks to have a potentially wet start to Saturday as rain pushes into Scotland and the north-west of England. Some of those showers may push south into northern England and The Midlands as well later in the morning. Away from this northern rain front a pretty quiet day for Ireland, Wales and England with moderate north-westerly winds keeping temperatures similar to Friday. Cool nights though for the weekend. Later on Saturday afternoon we may see some showers bubble up for the south east of England. Sunday looks dry for the U.K but a rain front will push into the south west of Ireland and then up and along the west coast of Munster into Connacht later in the day. Sunday sees the influence of high pressure slink into our weather so much better temperatures, up into the mid to high teens and a dry if a little dull day for many.

Weather Outlook

So next week we have a pretty good weather forecast for the week with high pressure pushing in much warmer continental air on south-easterly winds. So from Monday through to Wednesday / Thursday we look to have a dry, warm outlook with plenty of sunshine and I would expect temperatures into the high teens / low twenties maybe. Happy Days. Through the 2nd half of the week we have a low pressure system building in The Bay of Biscay and that will push cooler, more cloudier weather into the southern half of England whilst the north and Scotland holds onto the high pressure. We still look to stay dry through but with slightly cooler easterly winds from the bottom of the high pressure. I also think we should not see decent night temperatures with no risk of frost. All in all not bad.

Agronomic Notes

GDD Summary April

So as usual for the first blog of the month, I’ll take a look back at April from a GDD perspective from our usual range of locations…Thanks to everyone for their contributions, I can’t repeat enough how much I value them and how it enables me to make this blog half decent, ta chuck.

GDD Summary – Thame, U.K

Looking at the GDD data, 94.5GDD for the month would put this as a pretty middle of the road April, typical of what we experience nowadays. A spell of cold and dry weather with night frosts and a blip of a heat wave at some point in the month.

To put it even more into perspective April 2018 actually posted a higher GDD than April 2019 and bear in mind we only registered temperature for the 2nd half of April 2018, it shows you what an indifferent month April 2019 was. I’m glad it’s over and personally I’d pick April as the worst growing month of our calendar.

Looking at the cumulative GDD total for the year we come in at 207 GDD, ahead of last year courtesy of February and March but again decidedly average.

GDD & Rainfall – UK Locations

One very discernible trait with respect to April 2019 in that it’s been a very dry month indeed especially across central and eastern regions of the U.K. Growth-wise you can see a north-south divide with Fife coming in at 66GDD vs. double that for central and southerly regions of the U.K.  The tricky fact that the numbers fail to highlight is that most of this GDD was piled on in a very short space of time and during a period of no rainfall so the heat was of little benefit on unirrigated areas. This was especially true for courses and pitches requiring growth on fairways / outfields respectively.

GDD & Rainfall – Irish Locations

An extremely variable month for Ireland as well with a very clear difference in GDD between the west and east. Valentia, Doonbeg and Limerick all posted GDD > 130 whereas Dublin was down at 81.4, Wexford 86.6 and Cork at 92.7.

This puts somewhere like Doonbeg way ahead of Dublin, some 6 weeks by GDD reckoning, whereas Cork would be sitting 7 days ahead of Dublin. Rainfall-wise, pretty evenly spread but that said Bray and Casement in Dublin were the driest locations again and for once Kerry wasn’t the wettest !!!! Gee could we do with that rainfall over here 🙁

Hmmmm Spring so far ???

So I lifted some charts from our GDD / G.P spreadsheet which are put together to provide a seasonal summary. I picked 3 locations, Thame, York and Doonbeg in Ireland and it is interesting to see the differences.

The big difference is much higher GDD for the Irish locations (particularly south west and west) and this is caused the milder airflow that the west of Ireland experiences vs. the drier, colder continental airflow that we have been saddled with most of this spring. The impact of this is particularly noticeable in terms of milder night temperatures for the Irish location vs. the two locations in the U.K.

This increases the daily GDD / G.P for the Irish location vs. the two U.K locations to the point where at the end of April Doonbeg reached 376 total GDD vs. 202 for Thame and 176 for York. From a GDD perspective, Doonbeg is 6 weeks ahead of Thame and 7 weeks ahead of York, that’s some difference….

If you look at the number of days of good spring growth, we have Doonbeg @ 31, Thame @ 11 and York @ 10 from Jan 1st to April 30th !!

So that’s why our spring feels slow and hard work over here in the U.K because practically we have had very little good spring growth days.

Less than 10% of the days from Jan to April have been good from a growth perspective and of course most of those occurred when we had no rainfall. That’s another feature of the charts above that is clear to see, the Irish location has had more consistent rainfall whereas this spring in the U.K has been characterised by long spells of dry weather and under-average rainfall. Fortunately this is about to change on both counts 🙂

Poa annua doesn’t like it…

Cold and dry are the worst two growing conditions for Poa annua and so it tends to shut down and go into seedhead mode. This has been very clear on Poa-dominated greens, they haven’t really wanted to move much. This undesirable phenomenon will change though over the next week because with decent rainfall promised this week (and note it is coming from the south so much more likely that we will get it in the southern half of the U.K) and better temperatures from Monday next week onwards, Poa will zip back into growth mode although some of this will be negated by seedhead formation. So let us hope the worst is behind us from this respect.

Microdochium nivale activity…

Plenty of copper blotching Microdochium nivale around at the moment with some consistent pressure last week. This was down to some mild night temperatures, a bit of increased humidity and dew. Looking ahead we can expect to see an increase in activity from Sunday night onwards as we pick up better night temperatures but the flipside is that we can also expect the growth to grow it out..(See Meteoturf output below)

Growth flush…..

With a dump of rain this week (hopefully) and increasing temperatures after the weekend you can see the clear pick up in growth from Monday onwards. After some cooler nights of late and over the coming weekend, we pick up better night-time temperatures and that takes the G.P up from 0.2 to close to 0.6. OK, it isn’t off the scale but the increased growth will be pleasantly noticeable and allow you to pick up those outfields, blend in your Poa, bent, fescue, rye (delete where applicable) and maybe do some selective / PGR spraying with a nice spray window. Mint.

I do like to sign off on a positive 😛

All the best.

Mark Hunt