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