March 18th

Hi All,

After another wild and windy weekend it makes a change this morning to look out and see the trees hardly moving. I don’t know about you but I think it was unprecedented to endure so many consecutive days of high winds. My friend who runs three Trout fishing reservoirs told me he can’t ever remember losing 8 days on the bounce (because they have a 25mph wind threshold safety limit for their boats) to high wind speed during the season and he’s been doing the job for 30+ years. Another feature of our changing weather may be with more energy in the weather systems, I wonder ?

It was a real 4 seasons in one day yesterday. I was fishing in the morning and at some points I had warm sunshine on my back, gale force winds uplifting my mug of earl grey and rain, sleet, snow whisking past my ears. Haven’t seen any Sand Martins yet on the water and I’d have expected to do so around this time as they are the first of our Martins, Swallows and Swifts to arrive. Perhaps with the better forecast for the coming week and beyond we will see them gracing our waters. (they tend to concentrate on reservoirs first to fatten up after the long haul from Africa)

We have also had a run of wet weather with even dry Leicestershire recording > 50mm for March so far. Further west, north and south, you’d have got 3x that rainfall I’d say. So it seems strange then that there are still some concerns about water reserves for the coming summer from the Environmental Agency, or does it ?.

Out of interest I have re-visited my E.T vs. Rainfall chart that I started up last summer to see how much the winter has changed our deficient rainfall situation. I know locally our reservoirs have recovered well over the last 2-3 weeks.

In last week’s blog I had a hunch that the ever-present Atlantic high pressure system (see above) would play a role in our upcoming weather and that’s what we are due to see over the coming week, a nice uplift in day and night temperatures, a drop in wind speed and a little sunshine here and there thrown in. Can’t complain..

General Weather Situation

So starting off on Monday we have a mixed picture to greet us with a front of rain pushing across south-east across Ireland. Further north we see this rain front pushing showers and heavier spells of rain into north-west and south-west Scotland. The north-west of England is also in the firing line currently with plenty of showers pushing in off the Mersey estuary and into the north of England. As we go through the day some of these showers will push inland across Wales and into western counties of the U.K. So a cloudy and unsettled day for many with the best of any brightness over the north-east of Scotland and east coast of England. Winds will be light to moderate and temperatures will be a little up on yesterday just breaking into double figures for England, Wales and Ireland and a degree or two down for Scotland.

Onto Tuesday and overnight that rain front fizzles out to isolated showers along the north-west coast of England, but we also will see a new front of thicker cloud and drizzle / light rain push into the west of Ireland in time of the morning rush hour. This will push east across The Irish Sea into the west of Scotland, England and Wales from lunchtime onwards, clearing Ireland as it does so. So for central and eastern areas, a dry day, on the dull side, but feeling milder with a light to moderate westerly wind. This should see temperatures climb into the low teens across southern counties of England, Ireland and Wales, with Scotland seeing some showers and thicker clouds move in from the west during the 2nd part of the day and that’ll peg back temperatures to low double digits. Here we can expect the wind to be a little stronger so a moderate to strong westerly wind in situ across Scotland.

Onto Wednesday and a largely dry day beckons save for some showers pushing into the north-west of Scotland from the off and hanging around for most of the day. Dull again, a feature of this week the lack of sun, for Ireland, England and Wales, but there’s always a chance of some hazy sunshine breaking through and lifting temperatures up towards the mid-teens as warm air from that Atlantic high begins to make its presence felt. As we progress through Wednesday, we should see more in the way of sunshine for eastern and southern areas as the cloud breaks. Still a bit wet and windy unfortunately across the north-west of Scotland, but elsewhere dry, with an improving forecast. Winds will be light to moderate westerlies (stronger across Scotland) and I’d expect 12-14°C for most areas, again Scotland sitting 2-3°C behind because of the nearness of low pressure.

Thursday sees a weather front cross Ireland overnight and this will introduce thick cloud and light rain to western coasts from the off on Thursday morning. Noticeable duller everywhere with maybe the only chance of seeing the sun across the Moray Firth and eastwards towards Fraserburgh, my old hunting grounds 🙂 So overcast and showery across the western coasts of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland on Thursday morning. More rain will push in through the late morning to affect all western and south-western areas with heavier rain across western and central Scotland for the 2nd part of the day. A noticeably dull day but not cold with low teens expected across Ireland, England and Wales, with Scotland cooler under that thicker cloud and heavier rain. Towards the end of the day we see the cloud thin and sunshine break through over Connacht. Continuing mild then with low teen temperatures likely for most areas with Scotland a little down on this. A strong to moderate south-westerly wind as well on Thursday associated with that weak rain front.

Closing out the week on Friday and we see a much better day with sunshine from the off for Scotland and the north-west of Ireland. Elsewhere we will start dull and drizzly. As we progress through the day, the thick cloud cover will break and further south will see long spells of winter sunshine. There will be some rain and wintry showers pushing into the north-west of Scotland, but away from this looks like being a much sunnier and settled day. So showers across north-western coast of Scotland and dry, sunny settled elsewhere. Temperature-wise, expect similar to Thur, that’s 12-14°C, with the cooler temperatures under that isolated cloud cover.

One caveat on Friday’s weather that needs mentioning. Some sites are showing a band of rain moving over Ireland and down across the U.K, whereas others are showing nothing at all. Very strange so I’ve dispatched a few emails to query.

So looking ahead to the weekend and we see a rain front push in overnight from The Atlantic and this rain will push across Ireland into Scotland and the north-west of England in the small hours of Saturday morning. So Saturday looks like starting very wet for Ireland, Scotland and the north / north-west of England with the rain across the western side of the country. Some of this rain may extend south into The Midlands and across North Wales. Later on Saturday afternoon this rain begins to clear Ireland from the north-west leaving isolated showers across Wales and the north-west of England by dusk. Sunday sees the wind turn northerly which will mean a cool (ish) start to the day but at this stage it looks like it’ll be a sunny and dry one just about everywhere as high pressure calls the shots. So not a bad day at all with plenty of spring sunshine. If there is a chance of cloud and some rain, it’ll be for north-west Scotland and here you may see some wintry showers in the mix on Sunday morning.

Weather Outlook

So after a better week, will high pressure hold out to keep temperatures up and rainfall away ?

Well the start of next week looks like high pressure remains in charge pushing any cooler and wetter weather away and pretty much staying in a dominant position for the whole week. So that means dry, warm and settled weather for the 2nd part of March after a wet and unsettled 1st part of the month. I know long-term outlook aren’t one of my favourites, but I can see this weather running into the start of April.

Agronomic Notes

How are our soils faring from a moisture perspective ?

You may remember last year I plotted out rainfall vs. E.T at our Thame location to see how the moisture deficit played out across what was one of our hottest summers. The last time I did this was the end of October and we were -311mm odd from the first of June, 2018. That means that over the summer we had lost 311mm more moisture by evapotranspiration than had been replaced by natural rainfall. Now of course this model does not take into account the input of moisture by irrigation but a lot of outfield areas have no irrigation fitted anyway or when we get to a high E.T summer (like 2018), many end-users have to make a decision where best to use the water reserves they have. (an outfield is the first to go usually)

So although the Thame location in Oxfordshire that I use isn’t one of the wettest, it reflects perfectly that central belt of the U.K where we tend not to get high levels of annual rainfall. Their annual rainfall in 2018 was 561mm (about 130mm more than I measured here in Leicestershire incidentally) which I think is typical of Central England.

Here’s how the moisture deficit looks taking E.T and rainfall from last June right up to yesterday.

So over the winter we have recovered about half of the moisture deficit from last summer, -154mm vs. -311mm.

That’s a lot less than I expected to see in terms of recovery and is primarily because of the mild and dry start to 2019 during which we began to increase our moisture deficit due to the lack of rain !

Now I fully accept that there will be a lot of you reading this with not a care in the world regarding irrigation water availability as you have had more than enough rainfall these last 2-3 weeks, in fact the opposite will apply.

The other side of the coin though for Central England particularly is that we shouldn’t discount the potential of facing water restrictions at some point this year. Remember also that we went into summer 2018 with very high water reserves after the very wet and cold spring. That will not be the case this year unless April and May throw us a curve ball meteorologically.

You can download the above chart here

Improving Growth Forecast…..

I’ve projected the daily maximum and minimum temperatures from today till the end of March for our Thame location and converted it into daily growth potential.

Below is a schematic of growth since January 1st. You can see that we will be pulling in some nice consistent growth for the 2nd half of March, nothing too strong though and certainly if these figures pan out as projected, March 2019 will only come in as a moderately good growth month when we stack it up against previous years. (though considerably better than 2018 of course when we were enduring blizzards at this stage !)

If I look at some locations around the U.K and Ireland, the next 7 days shows reasonably good growth with Scotland behind the curve courtesy of some cooler temperatures and more rainfall.

Total Projected Growth Potential over next 7 days….

  • Central England – 2.6
  • Midlands – 2.1
  • South Wales – 2.4
  • Scotland – 1.5
  • West Ireland – 2.2

We know good daily growth in the spring from a growth potential perspective is around 0.4, so 7 days of good spring growth should give us a figure around 2.8 (7 x 0.4) so we aren’t a million miles away from this when we look at the figures above.

More spray days…but…

You can also see that the spray days are much better as we progress through this week after high winds and rainfall have put a stop to much needed applications up until now.

Grub control – how are you getting on ?

One area I think we are still struggling as an industry is Leatherjacket and Chafer control  despite the emergency approval of Acelepryn last year. This picture shows some still open core holes from January coring this year (taken last weekend) and the culprit is clearly visible. The mild January and February of 2019 has meant that insect pathogens like these are more prolific than ever unfortunately and ahead of the game when it comes to life cycle stage I think.

Not sure where we are on Acelepryn in 2019, perhaps Glenn or Dan can drop me a line and I’ll publish an update in next week’s blog ?

As I understand it timing is critically important with this product as it has to be applied prior to start of the egg hatch and needs time to move through the surface thatch layer. Last year we didn’t get availability until June with the last application finishing on September 30th, 2018. I’m wondering if we missed the boat with Leatherjacket and Chafer control reading the technical advice (below) by not controlling the spring generations ?

Now of course we do have pathogenic nematode control for these pests just to present a balanced blog 🙂

Ok that’s me for this week, have to see a man about a dog 🙂

Enjoy the milder temperatures, All the best.

Mark Hunt