2nd Dec – 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