Monthly Archives: December 2019

December 16th

Hi All,

This picture tells a bit of a story, firstly that it’s pretty tricky walking on any footpaths at the moment hereabouts because lots of places are underwater so roads are the only option. Secondly, the field in the background would normally be home to a crop of Winter Wheat or Barley by now, but the wet autumn has meant many fields lay fallow after saturated ground conditions have made ploughing and / or drilling next to impossible on Leicestershire clay. This is already having a knock on effect for farmers with income down and yields likely to be much lower because lower-yielding spring crops will be the only option for many, if there’s enough seed to go round. It isn’t just our industry that’s feeling the weather pinch.

Lovely skies at this time of year though sometimes.

So last week I showed the first projection for Christmas Day and that was a high pressure system which kicked off alarm bells with the potential for disease development over the Christmas period ala 2018. Well that high pressure is still lurking but not for Christmas day (see below) so potentially we look cool, dry (ish) and dull for Christmas Day with some wintry showers up north possibly. Looking on the bright side there’s now an increased chance of some of my Paddy Power White Christmas bets coming off in the north of the U.K 🙂

OK, onto the general weather situation…

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees a low pressure system sitting off the north-west of Scotland and that will push some wintry showers and heavier spells of rain into the north west of Scotland and Ireland during Monday morning. Later these showers will more inland over Central Scotland and turn more wintry over higher ground particularly. Away from these rain fronts, the rest of the U.K and Ireland should stay reasonably dry except for some showers on western coasts. After dusk a front off the continent will move into southern England bringing rain to the south east and East Anglia overnight. Nothing to shout about temperature-wise with 6-8 C likely. A strong to moderate south-westerly wind will decrease through the afternoon and swing round to the south east later in the day.

(Sorry for the missing degree symbol but WordPress has revised itself over the weekend and I haven’t a clue where to find a symbol insert button….why oh why do people change things for the sake of it ???:)

Tuesday sees that rain over the south east of England slip away into The Channel soon after dawn leaving a pretty dry start over most of the U.K and Ireland. That south east / East Anglia rain front will lurk for pretty much all of Tuesday periodically pushing in to bring more rain to already saturated conditions. Elsewhere save for the odd shower over North Wales and the west coast of Ireland, Tuesday looks dry. Lighter winds for Tuesday with north westerly veering westerly likely and not much change from 6-8 C again temperature-wise.

Wednesday starts dry for everyone but we have another Atlantic low pressure system pushing into Ireland over the course of Wednesday morning with rain and strong southerly winds pushing into the west of the country and moving eastwards through the morning. Some of this rain will be particularly heavy on in the south of Munster with Cork likely to get a clattering I am afraid lads. This heavy rain and strong winds looks to stay centred over Ireland through most of Wednesday so that means dry conditions again for the U.K until Wednesday evening when that rain front will push into The South West, Wales and the west coast of England. Similar temperatures to Tuesday for the U.K, but Ireland will feel milder in that fresh southerly wind.

Thursday sees that rain front well and truly straddled across all of the U.K with a drier, colder start for Ireland. During the morning this band of rain will slowly edge eastwards across the U.K clearing the west and south as it goes leaving showers behind for it and the south of Ireland. Through the afternoon the rain pushes northwards into Central Scotland clearing the north and north west of England by dusk hopefully. Much windier through Thursday with strong to gale force southerly winds and much milder as well with temperatures lifting into double figures for the first time for awhile.

Closing out the week on Friday and we have low pressure sitting off the west coast of Ireland so that means a showery and unsettled theme for the end of the week with plenty of blustery showers pushing across all areas and some potentially heavier rain for The South East and Central Scotland. Ireland will have less of those showers strangely being closer to the low pressure. Through the afternoon, those showers will merge to longer spells of rain across the south of the U.K, Midlands, north of England and Scotland. Ireland should see the bulk of the showers confined to westerly coasts. A little cooler on Friday with temperatures around 7-9 C and still with a strong to moderate southerly wind though it will drop at dusk.

The outlook for the last Christmas Shopping weekend (hmmm must start soon) is unsettled with the U.K starting dry on Saturday. No chance of the same for Ireland though as another low pressure system pitches up and brings strong winds and heavy rain for Saturday morning. This rain will push over The Irish sea to give a soggy end to Saturday for the west of the U.K. Overnight this rain pushes across the U.K to leave a very unsettled picture for Sunday for both Ireland and the U.K. Showery across the south and west of Ireland and the south of England, Midlands with heavier rain for the north of England and Scotland. A moderate to strong westerly wind in situ for most of the weekend if anything strengthening on Sunday. Same old, same old temperature-wise for the weekend, 7-9 C with maybe southern areas pushing into double figures on Sunday.

Weather Outlook

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that the high pressure projected for Christmas Day last week had slipped away. Well it hasn’t gone far. So next week looks like starting off pretty unsettled after Sunday’s high winds and rainfall. Monday looks to continue that unsettled theme with further showers and heavier spells of rain across the south and on western coasts. This will continue through Tuesday with a higher likelihood of showers on western and north western coasts and across Ireland. As we go into Christmas Day, the winds turn more northerly and this lowers the risk of showers further south but increases the chance of wintry showers across Scotland and the north of England. Overnight into the 26th December, a ridge of high pressure picks up and will maintain that northerly wind direction so cold, drier and potentially frosty for Boxing Day. At the end of next week we see a new low pressure push into Ireland, the north-west of England and Scotland accompanied by milder, south-westerly winds. Further south we hang onto that high pressure and that’s to me when we run a higher disease risk, later on in Christmas week across the south of England. By the end of Christmas week, that high pressure looks to get nerfed out of the way, allowing Atlantic low pressure systems to once again influence our weather, so that means a potentially wet start to 2020. Ho Hum.

Agronomic Notes

Above is the GFS output for the 27th of December and it is probably around the 27th, 28th December that we may see a heightened risk of Microdochium nivale, but mainly in the south of the U.K. As you can see high pressure is pulling up mild, south-westerly winds in a similar scenario to last year, but in Dec 2019 it is more likely to be south-orientated. For the west and north you can see it is cooler and windier and likely more unsettled. So we still have a risk of increased Microdochium nivale over the Christmas period I’m afraid with milder temperatures and heavier dews likely across the south of England from the 27th December onwards.

Spray Windows

The tricky bit is then finding a spray window and that isn’t easy because even with a window to spray in some areas during the first part of this week, ground conditions are saturated making getting a sprayer onto the greens looks decidedly tricky. With wet weather predicted for the latter part of next weekend, it doesn’t look like this situation is going to get any better any time soon I am afraid. Again we have a similar pattern to 2018 with unsettled weather leading up to Christmas and then high pressure coming through between Christmas and New Year. Not an easy situation to manage and you have my continuing sympathies for what has been a real pain in the butt period of weather over the last 3 months….

Fungicide Longevity – Earlier applications should be hanging in there…theoretically….

If we graph out the amount of growth defined by Growth Potential over November and December, we can see applications made in November should theoretically still be hanging in there with a total projected G.P of 8.2 for our location below since November 1st.

The problem is though that most of our current fungicides have lower levels of A.I and these A.I are less effective than their predecessors so as we are coming to the end of a fungicides longevity I think it is likely that they are less able to hold off an aggressive attack of Microdochium nivale. It is all theoretical of course and we must remember that most of the disease outbreaks we see from this stage of the year onwards are on existing disease scars rather than new infections. So if you are relatively clean now you have a lower risk of Microdochium over the Christmas period. A lower risk, yes, but not no risk as we saw over Christmas 2018.

Microdochium nivale disease pressure during wet and windy weather…

As some of you may know I’ve been doing a lot of work on leaf moisture and its role in the development of Microdochium nivale. In particular I’ve been looking at how spells of mild, wet and windy weather relate to leaf moisture levels.

Below are two graphs of leaf moisture taken over an unsettled period of weather in early December and using leaf moisture sensors located in different positions. One out in the open, one in a shaded and sheltered location. The difference is quite dramatic…

If you look at the period towards the end of the graphs, i.e the right hand side you can see we had some light rain and the sheltered location sensor stayed wet continuously whereas the open location sensor wetted up, but then dried down straight afterwards before repeating the pattern again.

So if we have a shaded green with poor air flow this is what we will see, extended periods of plant leaf wetness with a slow dry down, a higher propensity to dew and also frost and of course, Microdochium nivale.

Logical yes but when we have wet, mild and unsettled conditions and you are in an open location, you can see the plant leaf constantly ‘wets up’ and then dries down again which means it presents a much less favourable environment for continuous disease development.

A great argument to support increasing airflow and loosing a few trees maybe as going forward it’ll play a bigger and bigger role in an IPM program.

Ok that’s me for this week and nearly 2019 but I will probably try and slip in a mini blog either at the end of this week or early next week before I treat the PC to a well-earned break 🙂

All the best for the coming week…

Mark Hunt

December 9th

Hi All,

As predicted our unsettled weather made an unwelcome re-appearance after a short period of an intervening high pressure and dry weather. The picture below sort of sums the weather up at the moment, an angry sky and a little bit of sunshine. It doesn’t highlight the saturated fields, full ditches and the mud-spattered trousers that go hand in hand with winter walking in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Still love it though….

The west of Ireland took a battering yesterday as the first storm of the winter moved north and east across the country. This one was called Atiyah and you’ll be glad to know our respective Met Office’s (and The Dutch Met Office) have worked together to produce a list of names for this years winter storms !

Courtesy of The Met Office

I could not help but notice there’s no Storm Mark which is disappointing. The Irish influence is clear though, none more so than Storm Brendan which after his name sake in Cropcare, I predict to be a stealthy one with a strong and feisty demeanour :).

I could have hours of fun with the above but I’m not too sure about blog publishing and libel cases so I’ll desist. (for the time being anyway)

So any more storms for the coming week ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday kicks off with a cooler feel to the weather after the mild (ish) weekend as the wind shifts round to the north / north-west. Today looks mostly dry for the U.K and Ireland but there will be some blustery showers around, pushing down the north-east coast into East Anglia and other the other side of the country, extending from North Wales down to the south coast in a line. They’ll be plenty of sunshine in-between these showers and many places will stay dry all day with a strong north-west wind in attendance. Temperature-wise it’ll be 7-8°C, but feel cooler in the wind.

Overnight into Tuesday ,a low pressure system will push rain fronts into the west of Ireland and these are set to cover Ireland and arrive on the western coastline of the U.K around dawn on Tuesday. This rain will push eastwards through Tuesday morning with some of it pretty heavy across the west and north-west of Scotland. It will feel a good bit milder than Monday as the wind swings round to the south-west. They’ll be a brief hiatus during the afternoon before a second, heavier rain front will push into the west of the U.K and bring heavy rain to Wales, the north-west and south-west of England. This rain will push eastwards across all areas on Tuesday night leaving Ireland dry after a wet day. Much milder as mentioned above with temperatures up to 11°C. Winds will be very strong and from the south-west.

Onto Wednesday and with another rain front stacking up on the west Irish coast it is going to be unsettled again with that rain pushing across south Munster and Leinster. This rain will be much more westerly focussed with Wales and the west coast of the U.K likely to see most of the rain during Wednesday morning. Despite the fact that the wind is still westerly, it’ll feel much cooler than Tuesday with temperatures back to the 6-8°C. During the 2nd part of the day the rain will push eastwards across the U.K, falling as wintry showers across Central Scotland. As the rain pushes eastwards in the afternoon it should clear Ireland from the west leaving behind some isolated rain showers along western coasts.

Thursday sees yet another Atlantic low pressure push in from the west bringing rain to the west of Ireland from the off I am afraid. By the time the morning rush hour starts in Magor Services, it’ll be into West and South Wales and extend all the way up from The South West through Wales, the North West up to Scotland. During Thursday morning this rain will push eastwards on very strong south-westerly winds, still with the heaviest rain affecting the western side of the U.K. As we approach sunset practically all of the U.K and Ireland will be affected by rain and strong winds I am afraid with that rain falling as sleet and snow across Scotland. Temperature-wise, a little milder on Thursday with 8-10°C likely.

Friday sees that wind swing round to the north and that’ll pin those temperatures back down. Again we will see showers from the off but these will mainly affect the north and north-east with some of them wintry in nature. Elsewhere a much drier day after the rainfall of Tuesday and Thursday and with a strong wind, a chance to dry out a tad. The distinctive feature will be the temperature and the wind direction though, it’ll feel proper Baltic in a strong north-westerly / northerly wind.

So what is the outlook for one of the last shopping weekends of the Christmas period. You know the one that started in September, featured Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all that crap as retailers generally increased prices and then discounted them back down to where they were before. The term ‘Pavlov’s dogs’ springs to mind.

Anyway what’s the weather likely to be for the shopping weekend ?

Well, it is an East-West divide with the bulk of the rain across Ireland and the west-facing coastline of the U.K. Saturday sees plenty of showers across Ireland, some of them wintry on the tops. These showers will also affect Wales, The South West, The North West and western Scotland through Saturday morning and with the cold temperatures don’t be surprised to see some of the white stuff at elevation. Most of the showers will be confined to the west on Saturday with central and eastern parts enjoying a cold, breezy but largely dry day. Sunday sees a more general band of rain and wintry showers cross the southern half of the U.K and Ireland overnight. A drier day for the U.K with the showers confined to The Lakes and western Scotland. Ireland should be reasonably dry until lunchtime when more rain and wintry showers pitch up at the south-west coast and push eastwards. Cool though with 5-7°C the top temperature and feeling colder in the strong wind.

Weather Outlook

Well this is how the GFS (Global Forecasting System) projection looks for next Monday and you may notice two or three things. First we are in the cold bit, second we have some low pressure systems close to us and thirdly (and perhaps the most unwelcome bit), the jet stream has returned to a position below the U.K & Ireland. This means that we are back to a weather pattern where low pressures can rattle in from The Atlantic but unlike September, October and November, they will pass through quickly so we will have drying days in-between. Happily though the jet stream is predicted to take a nudge upstairs later next week 🙂

So next week looks like starting off unsettled again as low pressure rattles in some south-westerly mild winds and showers. These showers will mainly affect the north and west of the U.K and Ireland and as we go through the first part of next week, we will see this trend continue as most of the rain showers will affect the north and north-west. Thursday looks a wet day for Ireland and Scotland as we see some heavy rain push through. It is also likely to affect the west side of the U.K as well but the east and south-east could stay dry. Nothing to shout about temperature-wise, probably 7-9°C will be the norm. At the end of next week we begin to dry out as the jet stream is pushed high above the U.K confining any rain to the far north. So possibly a dry run into Christmas ?

Want to see the first GFS prediction for Christmas Day ?

You will, you will, you will (Father Ted style) ……

Well if this turns out to be true I won’t be a happy bunny over Christmas, not that much will change there really as I’m a bit of a Bah Humbug type of chap when it comes to all the festivities. Truly, I’d rather be running, cycling or fishing than sitting down to days of calorific excess. I do like the rest though so I won’t begrudge it all and if its dry I can exercise it all off 😛

Agronomic Notes

So why is the above image potentially not good news ??

Well, firstly it means I will lose my Paddy Power bets for a White Christmas for the 5th year in a row 🙁

Secondly, if any of you have been to my talks recently where I summarised last Christmas and why we had high disease pressure through to The New Year, you’ll recognise the weather pattern above. Here’s what our weather pattern looked like last Christmas ;

So you can see some similarities with last Christmas and the first GFS prediction for this Christmas. Now I cannot stress enough this is 16 days out and as we know a lot can change in that time weather-wise, so let’s not jump to too many conclusions, too quickly. The high pressure is in a different location as well, it isn’t as far north and west as the one last year.

That said if this does turn out to be right it could suggest high disease pressure for the central and southern part of the U.K. The north and west will be in the main wind flow of the jet stream so they’ll be milder, windy and unsettled. The threat as it stands now is for the south.  It’s an early warning to make sure that you’re covered for the Christmas period and if the weather does pan out as predicted, you should have some spray days to do this (unlike last year).

As I didn’t have the time to cover this last week, I thought I’d do a speedy recap of November 2019, although most people will want to forget it as a month due to the excessive rainfall.

GDD Comparison – UK – Thame Location

So November 2019 came in at 37.5 total GDD, which if you look at the graph above for the previous years, ranks it as a cool one. Actually the 2nd coolest since 2010. Significantly it also meant that this run of cool weather had a negative (positive) effect on Microdochium activity, with much lower disease pressure compared to 2018.

You can see how much warmer November 2018 was as it came in nearly three times higher from a GDD perspective ! The other benefit was that grass growth was much lower which meant that you weren’t having to get out and cut wet fairways / outfield because it was growing so fast. On the flip side if you needed recovery from winter wear, you simply didn’t get it in November.

As mentioned last month I don’t think 2019 is going to go down as a record breaker in terms of temperature (though it might do in terms of rainfall). At the end of November 2019, the total y.t.d GDD was running at 1828, which puts it as a so-so year really and 10% behind 2018.

GDD / Rainfall Comparison – U.K Locations

As you hopefully see November was universally cool across the U.K with barely any difference between the GDD in Fife and Bracknell (34.4 vs. 38.5). It was also universally wet with poor Okehampton coming out tops for rainfall at 172mm, that’s nearly 7″ in old money.

GDD / Rainfall Comparison – Irish Locations

Ireland pretty much fared the same with a low GDD / high rainfall month representing November 2019. Valentia came in as the mildest, but not the wettest, with Killiney measuring a whopping 187.5mm, now that’s proper wet !

A quick 5 minutes on climate change…

You know it doesn’t seem a day goes by without another piece of climate change information making the news and in some respects that’s good, but in others it is confusing.

I’ve seen output from the Met Office and other national weather organisations saying the trend for the future is for hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters. Well I’m sorry but I don’t think it is that clear cut for us in the U.K and Ireland simply because of a geographical location.

Recently, I did a couple of talks at Sportsturf Ireland (thanks Damian and Finbarr for the opportunity and hospitality) and in one of those talks, I looked back at 55 years of climate data for 2 locations in Ireland for the months of October, November and December.

Why those ?

Well in my humble opinion it is because they represent the most changed months of the calendar year. That is to say it is our autumn / winter season that has changed the most in my lifetime.

Now, firstly hats off to Met Éireann, the Irish Weather Organisation. A couple of clicks of a button and I could download 55 years of minimum and maximum daily temperature data along with daily rainfall. Try to do that here with The Met Office 🙁

Now I have these ideas you know and almost instantly I regret them because my is that one hell of a lot of data to analyse. So anyway 6 hours later and with a scrambled brain, I graphed out the monthly Growth Potential and rainfall for the last 55 years from 2 Irish locations.

What did I expect to see ?

I suppose you’d expect to see evidence of a general warming trend denoted by increasing G.P over the last 55 years. After all Growth Potential is calculated from maximum and minimum temperature vs. an optimum temperature for cool season or warm season grass species. The graph doesn’t show a clear trend from a G.P perspective.

Here’s the same chart for rainfall ;

Now maybe here there’s more of a case for saying the wettest October’s have occurred more  often in recent years, I’d accept that.

I also looked at the warmest and wettest single day of the autumn winter as defined by the period  October, November and December. This would help pick out extremes of warm and / or wet weather that may have been hidden by a monthly total.

So here’s the years when the top 10 warmest single days of the period October – December for Dublin since 1964 were recorded ;

Oct 1985 / Oct 1970 / Oct 1984 / Oct 1969 / Oct 1969 / Oct 1971 / Oct 1977 / Oct 2013 / Oct 1969 / Oct 2002

So what I’m saying is that October 1985 recorded the warmest day on record since 1964  at 21.3°C on the 1st of the month. In that top 10 there are only 2 years since the turn of the century. Surely we’d expect to see more recent years in the top 10 if the climate was warming consistently ?

If we do the exercise for rainfall the results are different. So here’s the years when the top 10 wettest single days of the period October – December for Dublin since 1964 were recorded ;

Oct 2011 / Nov 1996 / Nov 2000 / Nov 2002 / Oct 2003 / Nov 1965 / Oct 1990 / Oct 2002 / Nov 2017 / Oct 2004

So here I’m saying that October 2011 recorded the wettest day on record since 1964 at 82.2mm falling on the 24th of that month. Now in this top 10, 7 of the years are since the turn of the century and interestingly all of them are either October or November, no December’s made the list.

I performed a regression analysis to see if there was a relationship between the warmest and wettest months. There wasn’t.

So for this admittedly very small sample set, the data didn’t confirm that winters were trending to be warmer for either Shannon or Dublin. It did however suggest they were getting wetter and that’s the take home I think.

So what am I saying about our climate ?

Well, I can’t speak for the U.K as I haven’t crunched any data (yet) but if you look at Ireland to me it isn’t clear that we are on an upward temperature trend for October, November and December since 1964 anyway. There is a suggestion that we are on an upward rainfall trend though for those months.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to us because we are situated on the path of the jet stream and how this behaves really dominates our weather patterns. We know it forms ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ and that these can give us excesses of temperature and rainfall. (either way)

From this little cropped study it would suggest that the trend (if there is one) appears to be resulting in more rainfall, more often than it results in more (higher) temperature.

Chatting this through briefly with Trygve S. Aamlid from NIBIO, Norway (Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi) at a conference where we both spoke, he made a very good point to me. That is that the further north you go latitude-wise, the greater the change in temperature over the winter months. So if we did this same exercise for Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki, we may say a much clearer pattern evolving. (See Trygve I do remember some things 🙂 )

OK, back to the day job and before I get a knock at the door from Greta Thunberg (you need to get out more) for doubting climate change (which I am not doing incidentally, I’m merely saying that for Ireland and the U.K, it isn’t as clear-cut as for other countries / regions), let’s look at Microdochium pressure (sigh)

Microdochium nivale pressure

Well for this week the prevailing high winds and in the latter part of the week, cool / cold temperatures will drop disease activity back to a low point after some locations experienced a peak last week. Good news and this continues the trend for a lower than normal disease pressure autumn. Before we relax though let’s remember last Christmas (not the Wham song thankfully) when we were all caught on the hop. I’ll be keeping an eye on the GFS output for Christmas and not just from a Paddy Power perspective to see if that high is going to make an appearance.

OK, all the best for the coming week, I need a coffee and a lie down 🙂

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 2nd – Mini Blog

Hi All,

Bit pushed for time today so I am going to make this a mini blog.

A taste of winter proper over the last few days with some pretty heavy frosts, dry days and freezing fog. Dry days though, so nice after the constant barrage of rain that was September, October, November. I took the opportunity to have a nice walk round Rutland Water, most of the time it was shrouded in heavy fog but just occasionally the sun broke through and it was lovely.

General Weather Situation

So this week we have high pressure in charge for the first part of the week but as hinted last week I didn’t expect it to last and it won’t. High pressure means calm, settled conditions with night frosts and cold, bright days. By Wednesday that high is due to be shunted out of the way from the north so Scotland will see the change first. The change will be to windy, milder and more unsettled conditions pushing down from the north. So Ireland and the north of Scotland will see a band of rain move through on Wednesday but it won’t be until Thursday that more rain turns up in Scotland accompanied by strong westerly winds. This rain will sink south through the latter part of Thursday before a more consolidated rain front pushes down on Friday across all areas. It will become windier and noticeably milder as we approach the end of the week with double figure temperatures by Friday for most places.

Now before everyone grimaces at the thought of more rain I would point out that with a higher jet stream currently this means that the rain will push through quickly accompanied by strong drying winds so hopefully you won’t see a repeat of the high daily rainfall totals. That wind will also help both on the drying front and keeping disease at bay by drying down the leaf blade.

Saturday could be the better day of the weekend as we keep that mild, windy feel to the weather before more rain pushes into Ireland and moves swiftly east bringing wet and unsettled conditions for Sunday.

Weather Outlook

Hmmm, now next week looks a tad fruity folks if the weather patterns play out as suspected.

Monday starts cooler and unsettled with plenty of showers around for the north and west. a more general band of rain passes through on Tuesday but thereafter the wind turns more northerly and we go drier and noticeably colder through Wednesday / Thursday. The cold could easily push some wintry showers into Scotland and the north-west through the 2nd half of the week. Some of these wintry showers could drift southwards. At the end of the week we see another Atlantic low pressure push in so we return to windy, mild and unsettled. At the moment I can’t another blocking high which I know isn’t great news for you guys. Don’t shoot the messenger like eh ? 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Last week’s mild weather promoted some Microdochium nivale activity as expected but with some sharp frosts this has now gone onto the back foot. The immediate outlook is for low pressure in most areas but it really depends on your specific locality. Again for me the more sheltered locations could be in for some disease pressure this week as we pick up some frost / dew but our leaf moisture analysis indicates that the sheltered / shaded areas will form frost earlier and it’ll last longer so you’d think this should discourage Microdochium ?

At some point soon I expect activity to start showing on the non-sheltered / non-ideal micro-climate greens because of higher potential for spore / mycelium survivial on these areas. As we approach Thursday we pick up milder air and that’s when the threat will increase through till Saturday. As a counter we will have strong winds in most areas and that should not only negate dew formation but also dry down the leaf nicely. It’s all in that plant leaf wetness dynamic you know 🙂

Looking back at Autumn 2019

Normally for the 1st blog of the month I look back at last months stats in more detail but time waits for no man so that’ll have to be next week 🙂

Here’s a quick gander though at some stats from a central Birmingham location which you’d think would be normally one of the drier ones in the country.

So I make it 76 wet days in the last 3 months for this location, so that’s 76 wet days in the last 91 days overall or if you like it non-sunny side up, 83.5% of the days have been wet so far this autumn / winter. That’s enough to drive anybody to the end of their tether particularly when they are then asked how come the course / pitch is so wet ?

For most areas autumn / winter 2019 provided 3x / 4x more rainfall than 2018, so yes we are wet and likely to stay that way. At the same time as intimated the other week, we have also been really dull, so light levels have also been low which is bad news for ryegrass and bentgrass alike, two species that thrive on good light levels.

Growth levels have also been really low.

Look at the chart above and you can see that we have had very little good winter growth since mid-October. Now that has good and bad points. It is bad if you need recovery from winter play whether that be golf course wear pathways or winter season pitch play. On the plus side the lack of growth has meant we aren’t trying to get cuts in on saturated soils with lots of worm casts present.

The other plus side is the lower than usual disease pressure because of the cooler and wetter conditions. OK, we are still only just nudging into December and last year we saw that even getting to Christmas didn’t guarantee anything. This year I think it’ll be different because of the predominant weather patterns.

So hang in there, stay positive, the shortest day is less than 3 weeks away, then it’ll be Christmas and before you know it the days will be stretching out and spring will await.

All the best.

Mark Hunt