August 12th

Hi All,

This picture tells a story, nearly ripe Winter Wheat in the field, some lodging in the crop where its gone over and another dollop of rain on the way for August.

After 34 mm over the last 3 days there appears no let up in the wet summer we have endured.

The temperature / rain combination has had many consequences, a big diesel bill for one as outfield areas just keep on growing when normally a lack of moisture would have curtailed growth. Nature is out of sync as well with everything coming early this year as there’s been no dry summer to force a halt to growth.

I can see this in my garden. The Rudbeckia above are normally about 6-7ft tall and flower in July but the constant moisture has meant more vegetative growth and they’re currently around 10ft now and a right pain to keep upright ! These lovely Japanese Anenome (right) are in full bloom and started at the end of July when I normally don’t expect them to flower till September. In the hedgerows, Blackberries are really early as will be the berry crop for sure. And all because the wet summer has put nature into overdrive. So if your club secretary, financial director, etc wants to know why the diesel bill is up this year, you can point to the garden to show him why.

It’s one of the drawbacks of GDD and G.P models that only temperature is taken into account when estimating growth and so 2019 appears as a lower / similar growth year than 2018, but last years drought stopped growth for 6-8 weeks on outfield whereas this year it has continued nearly unchecked since late May.

You can’t measure this effect in terms of GDD / G.P.

So is there an end to the successive low pressure systems that have blighted our summer (from a holiday perspective) but in all honesty have given us less stress from an irrigation perspective and an easier life for once ?


General Weather Situation

So we kick off Monday with the low pressure that brought gale force winds and rain over the weekend exiting stage right into The North Sea. It is still an unsettled picture though with showers across the south and north-east of England and a rain front pushing into the west of Ireland during the morning and moving east across the whole country during the afternoon. A better picture for the U.K with a lot of areas enjoying a drier day except for the south-east of England, north-east of England and north-west of Scotland where rain will push in for the 2nd half of the day. As we head towards the evening that rain will clear the west of Ireland but will intensify over Central Scotland. Showers will also be reluctant to leave the south-east and north-east coasts of England. A cool day with a single figure night making it a cool start as well and temperatures only in the high teens, subdued by a moderate to fresh north-westerly wind.

Tuesday is probably the direst day of the week for many with the U.K and Ireland enjoying some nice spells of sunshine. It won’t be completely dry though because they’ll be showers across Kerry, Mayo and Galway during the morning and also some showers affecting both western and eastern coastal areas. As we progress through the morning these will dissipate in most areas except over Scotland where morning rain across the north-west of Scotland will drift inland to affect central areas for the 2nd half of the day. Remaining cool for the time of year because of the moderate to fresh north-westerly wind in place for the beginning of the week, so temperatures remaining in the high teens.

As we progress into Wednesday we see a new Atlantic low pressure system usher its way in overnight bringing heavy rain to Ireland, the south-west of England, Wales and the west coast of England by dawn. This rain will move east quickly clearing Ireland during the first part of the morning and affecting all areas of the U.K by midday so a wet day for many on Wednesday. By the evening this rain will have cleared Wales and the west of England leaving behind a showery outlook which will also affect Ireland during the 2nd part of the day. By dusk on Wednesday the rain will have cleared most of the U.K with the exception of north-east and northern Scotland above The Moray Firth. Not surprising then that Wednesday is another cool day with temperatures in the mid-teens under all that cloud cover and rain.

Onto Thursday and a better day with some areas looking to stay dry all day. There will be rain around however and at this stage it looks to affect along a line extending from North Wales across northern England up to The North East. During the afternoon we will see these showers push inland to affect The Midlands and northern England with the north-east of England and eastern Scotland also in the firing line. Later these showers will push south into North London and East Anglia. Save for a few showers across the south-west tip of Ireland, Thursday looks to be a dry one for you after the wet start to the week. With a westerly wind now in situ, we see the temperature nudge up towards the high teens for Thursday across all areas except Scotland where we remain on the cool side.

Closing out the week on Friday and I am afraid we have another deep low pushing in from The Atlantic with packed isobars and plenty of rain 🙁 Overnight into Friday and we can already see this low pressure bringing strong winds and rain to Ireland and the west of Scotland. By rush hour it’ll be across Ireland, The South West, Wales, north west of England and Scotland and during the morning it’ll sink south and east bringing a wet end to the week especially for the north and west. At this stage it looks like the south and south-east will stay dry till the evening so not too bad a day for you guys really. So closing out the week on Friday evening and we will see heavy showers spread all over the U.K with a new rain front pushing into the west of Ireland. There may be a temporary respite for the east of Ireland though on Friday evening as one rain front moves through. Again remaining on the cool side with temperatures only in the mid to high teens perhaps across the south of England.

No surprise then that the outlook for the coming weekend looks pretty similar to the one we have just had with low pressure in charge. So Saturday looks wet and windy with high winds and some particularly heavy rain for the south of England possibly. By Saturday evening the worst of that rain is away so Sunday looks a better day, still sunshine and showers though. with temperatures in the mid to high teens and hopefully a gentler wind so I can go fishing 🙂

Weather Outlook

So another week passes making for a cool and wet August but is this weather pattern here to stay or will the jet stream take a hike up north and allow some warmer weather for the last part of the month ?

Well next week looks to start off as a dead ringer of this week with a cool, unsettled and showery outlook for Monday and Tuesday. We have yet another Bay of Biscay low pressure pushing through mid-week, next week so that means a potentially wet one for the south of England and then as we head towards the August Bank Holiday there’s a suggestion that we may pick a transient high pressure from Friday onwards which will give us a dry and warm interlude. Personally I’d be delighted as I’m at Silverstone for MotoGP that weekend and don’t want another wash out so fingers crossed. Lots can change before then so we will see.

Agronomic Notes

It’s been a strong growth summer….

Taking up on one of the points I mentioned earlier is the failure of the GDD  and G.P models to describe the differences in growth we have experienced in 2019 vs. 2018.

If you look at the data starting from June 1st for each year, the total amount of growth is practically identical till yesterday’s date in terms of measuring it with Growth Potential. The reality is something different because last year growth was moisture-limited whereas this year it hasn’t been.

Let’s look at that period from June 1st to the present day for 2018 and 2019 at a Northampton location ;

You can see that the total Growth Potential is nearly identical, 63.33 for 2018 vs. 62.02 for 2019.

If you count the number of rain days and rainfall though it paints a very different picture ;


So we have seen more rainfall, more rainfall days and a much shorter period without rain at this location in summer 2019 vs. 2018.

It is this phenomenon that has caused non-irrigated fairways, rough and sports outfield to continue growing strongly. I appreciate it isn’t the same everywhere as rainfall is anything but consistent. Just 30 miles or so as the crow flies to our Thame location and they’re sitting on 1.4mm for the month vs. 43.4mm for this location near Northampton.

Thanks as always to Rob and Sean for their data 🙂

Disease Activity

As I noticed some absolutely huge puffballs (sorry about the legs :)) and circles of Type 2 and 3 Fairy Rings on pasture land yesterday whilst out walking I pondered on the much greater disease pressure we are seeing this summer than last.

It follows that with more rainfall we have had higher humidity and this has played into the hands of turfgrass diseases like Fairy Rings, whose activity is very influenced by humidity.  Earlier this month I noted how this year was tracking in a very similar vein to 2014, our last high Anthracnose pressure year and I have noted a higher incidence on my travels. Alongside that we have seen more Waitea patch, Rhizoctonia solani, Microdochium nivale and I think we may also see some late summer Take All due to the cool, wet August period.

Higher Microdochium nivale activity earlier this autumn ?

Aside from the ever-present threat of Anthracnose, we also have to consider that this summer we are likely to be carrying a higher level of active Microdochium nivale into the autumn compared to last year because of the cooler, wetter weather. Last autumn our Microdochium didn’t really get started to mid-late October with the heaviest periods of activity much later into November and then that Christmas – New Year period. If this weather pattern continues then to me it seems logical that we will carry a higher inoculum loading into September and October and that could make life tricky in terms of disease management.

To me our strategic aim must be to stop the disease establishing a population from Day 1.

Now this is more easily said than done these days because the tools in our toolbox aren’t what they were. For this autumn most end-users have some propiconazole A.I-containing products in stock so the decision will be when to use these products best to minimise Microdochium populations. Do you go early or keep your powder dry till later in the autumn ?

My feeling is if you can see those all too familiar copper blotches across your sward through August and September then you can expect some early Microdochium pressure in October but of course this all depends on the weather. Microdochium needs plant leaf wetness, humidity and high overnight air temperature to do its worst along with poor drying conditions (light winds).

One strategy then might be to apply an effective fungicide early to lower the inoculum level going into October.

Its worth remembering that in autumn 2020, we won’t be able to use propiconazole but hopefully we will see some new products from the likes of Bayer and Syngenta to boost our ability to control this damaging turf disease. (ending on a positive note)

Ok that’s me for this week, Tempus fugit and all that…

All the best.

Mark Hunt