May 7th

Hi All,

It has been a funny old year so far and this picture tells a number of stories….A very low water level (it’s normally up to the tree line), sharp showers, a peep of sunshine and then the next bank of showers running through. Our year seems very much to me to be stop-start, we have either had the temperature with no moisture or vice-versa. That said we definitely have put on some growth over the last 2 weeks because I walked on Sunday on paths I hadn’t walked for a fortnight and the grass, hedgerows, verges and crops had come on a bundle. What wasn’t in this picture were hundreds of Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows feeding up on a good buzzer hatch. I also saw my first Swifts yesterday and had a lovely low fly past (20ft away) by an Osprey. Sometimes nature by itself is such as tonic…

Looking at the forthcoming weather that could be next week as a wet, cool week this week looks to be followed by some better temperatures next week, so hang onto your hats on your outfield as the growth hand brake gets let off. I’d say that’s pretty typical for mid-May.

Let’s put some more detail on the weather ;

Image courtesy of

General Weather Situation

A wet cool week on the way but with low pressure in charge at least we get to lose those night frosts.

So Tuesday starts with a change in the wind, away from those cool north westerlies to south and eventually south-west. The image above highlights two low pressure systems heading our way and you can see their orientation is west and south of the U.K, so that’s the area in the firing line for the rain (some of you will be pleased to know). So starting off we see the first showers from that low pressure drifting in over the south and west of Ireland, the west coast of Scotland and the north of England, not to mention some just hanging off the east coast. Through the morning these showers will consolidate over Scotland and the north of England as well as Ireland with only Leinster missing most of the rain. Further south and east across the U.K will stay dry, but dull with very little chance of seeing much sun. Through the afternoon some of these showers will push into The Midlands and eastern England. The first rain from those Atlantic low pressure systems is due to make landfall tonight across the south-west of England and Ireland and overnight it will push north and east into southern England. I for one will be glued to the V8 Netweather radar before closing my eyes. So for Tuesday a coolish day again with temperatures creeping up into the mid-teens maybe but significantly cooler over Scotland barely breaking into double figures. Winds will be light and from the south-west / south and south-east.

Wednesday then sees that rain by dawn across the whole of the south of England, Wales and southern half of Ireland and it will move north into northern England and Scotland through the morning. It isn’t expected to clear the south coast of Ireland till the afternoon and probably not the south coast of England till dusk. So a pretty wet day for all on Wednesday with some significant rainfall totals and boy will I be a happy man if we get it :). Cool again for many as we might expect with this low pressure with an increasingly fresh south-easterly wind which will swing westerly through the 2nd part of the day. Expect low teens from a temperature perspective for Wednesday.

Thursday sees that low pressure pushing some welcome rain and milder temperatures into Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia. A dry (ish) start to the day but from the off expect to see showers over Scotland and the north of England / Ireland. Since the low is now to the east of us we will get winds from the north for Thursday so another chilly day with showers pushing down on that northerly wind through the course of Thursday morning. By the afternoon these showers will consolidate into a rain front for the north of Ireland, Scotland, northern England, Wales, The Midlands and The South East with only The South West and far south of England remaining dry. The same dynamic applies to Ireland with the rain probably getting as far south as Wexford before petering out to showers through the late afternoon / evening. A cool day as hinted above with the fresh to moderate northerly wind with temperatures lucky to climb up into low double figures for everyone.

Closing out a short week (for some) Friday looks to be a drier and possibly brighter day though still with the likelihood of showers for the north-west, northern England and East Anglia. Again these will bubble up through the morning and consolidate into longer spells of rain so if you start the day dry, you might not end it that way. A similar pattern for Ireland and Scotland but maybe less in the way of rain showers here and some chance of seeing sunny intervals over Ireland. These showers may hang around all day and really not peter out till dusk. Winds will swing round to westerly and be light to moderate so that’ll ease up temperatures by a couple of degrees compared to Thursday, expect 11-14°C.

So how does the weekend look ?

Well not too bad unless you are in Scotland which looks to have a potentially wet start to Saturday as rain pushes into Scotland and the north-west of England. Some of those showers may push south into northern England and The Midlands as well later in the morning. Away from this northern rain front a pretty quiet day for Ireland, Wales and England with moderate north-westerly winds keeping temperatures similar to Friday. Cool nights though for the weekend. Later on Saturday afternoon we may see some showers bubble up for the south east of England. Sunday looks dry for the U.K but a rain front will push into the south west of Ireland and then up and along the west coast of Munster into Connacht later in the day. Sunday sees the influence of high pressure slink into our weather so much better temperatures, up into the mid to high teens and a dry if a little dull day for many.

Weather Outlook

So next week we have a pretty good weather forecast for the week with high pressure pushing in much warmer continental air on south-easterly winds. So from Monday through to Wednesday / Thursday we look to have a dry, warm outlook with plenty of sunshine and I would expect temperatures into the high teens / low twenties maybe. Happy Days. Through the 2nd half of the week we have a low pressure system building in The Bay of Biscay and that will push cooler, more cloudier weather into the southern half of England whilst the north and Scotland holds onto the high pressure. We still look to stay dry through but with slightly cooler easterly winds from the bottom of the high pressure. I also think we should not see decent night temperatures with no risk of frost. All in all not bad.

Agronomic Notes

GDD Summary April

So as usual for the first blog of the month, I’ll take a look back at April from a GDD perspective from our usual range of locations…Thanks to everyone for their contributions, I can’t repeat enough how much I value them and how it enables me to make this blog half decent, ta chuck.

GDD Summary – Thame, U.K

Looking at the GDD data, 94.5GDD for the month would put this as a pretty middle of the road April, typical of what we experience nowadays. A spell of cold and dry weather with night frosts and a blip of a heat wave at some point in the month.

To put it even more into perspective April 2018 actually posted a higher GDD than April 2019 and bear in mind we only registered temperature for the 2nd half of April 2018, it shows you what an indifferent month April 2019 was. I’m glad it’s over and personally I’d pick April as the worst growing month of our calendar.

Looking at the cumulative GDD total for the year we come in at 207 GDD, ahead of last year courtesy of February and March but again decidedly average.

GDD & Rainfall – UK Locations

One very discernible trait with respect to April 2019 in that it’s been a very dry month indeed especially across central and eastern regions of the U.K. Growth-wise you can see a north-south divide with Fife coming in at 66GDD vs. double that for central and southerly regions of the U.K.  The tricky fact that the numbers fail to highlight is that most of this GDD was piled on in a very short space of time and during a period of no rainfall so the heat was of little benefit on unirrigated areas. This was especially true for courses and pitches requiring growth on fairways / outfields respectively.

GDD & Rainfall – Irish Locations

An extremely variable month for Ireland as well with a very clear difference in GDD between the west and east. Valentia, Doonbeg and Limerick all posted GDD > 130 whereas Dublin was down at 81.4, Wexford 86.6 and Cork at 92.7.

This puts somewhere like Doonbeg way ahead of Dublin, some 6 weeks by GDD reckoning, whereas Cork would be sitting 7 days ahead of Dublin. Rainfall-wise, pretty evenly spread but that said Bray and Casement in Dublin were the driest locations again and for once Kerry wasn’t the wettest !!!! Gee could we do with that rainfall over here 🙁

Hmmmm Spring so far ???

So I lifted some charts from our GDD / G.P spreadsheet which are put together to provide a seasonal summary. I picked 3 locations, Thame, York and Doonbeg in Ireland and it is interesting to see the differences.

The big difference is much higher GDD for the Irish locations (particularly south west and west) and this is caused the milder airflow that the west of Ireland experiences vs. the drier, colder continental airflow that we have been saddled with most of this spring. The impact of this is particularly noticeable in terms of milder night temperatures for the Irish location vs. the two locations in the U.K.

This increases the daily GDD / G.P for the Irish location vs. the two U.K locations to the point where at the end of April Doonbeg reached 376 total GDD vs. 202 for Thame and 176 for York. From a GDD perspective, Doonbeg is 6 weeks ahead of Thame and 7 weeks ahead of York, that’s some difference….

If you look at the number of days of good spring growth, we have Doonbeg @ 31, Thame @ 11 and York @ 10 from Jan 1st to April 30th !!

So that’s why our spring feels slow and hard work over here in the U.K because practically we have had very little good spring growth days.

Less than 10% of the days from Jan to April have been good from a growth perspective and of course most of those occurred when we had no rainfall. That’s another feature of the charts above that is clear to see, the Irish location has had more consistent rainfall whereas this spring in the U.K has been characterised by long spells of dry weather and under-average rainfall. Fortunately this is about to change on both counts 🙂

Poa annua doesn’t like it…

Cold and dry are the worst two growing conditions for Poa annua and so it tends to shut down and go into seedhead mode. This has been very clear on Poa-dominated greens, they haven’t really wanted to move much. This undesirable phenomenon will change though over the next week because with decent rainfall promised this week (and note it is coming from the south so much more likely that we will get it in the southern half of the U.K) and better temperatures from Monday next week onwards, Poa will zip back into growth mode although some of this will be negated by seedhead formation. So let us hope the worst is behind us from this respect.

Microdochium nivale activity…

Plenty of copper blotching Microdochium nivale around at the moment with some consistent pressure last week. This was down to some mild night temperatures, a bit of increased humidity and dew. Looking ahead we can expect to see an increase in activity from Sunday night onwards as we pick up better night temperatures but the flipside is that we can also expect the growth to grow it out..(See Meteoturf output below)

Growth flush…..

With a dump of rain this week (hopefully) and increasing temperatures after the weekend you can see the clear pick up in growth from Monday onwards. After some cooler nights of late and over the coming weekend, we pick up better night-time temperatures and that takes the G.P up from 0.2 to close to 0.6. OK, it isn’t off the scale but the increased growth will be pleasantly noticeable and allow you to pick up those outfields, blend in your Poa, bent, fescue, rye (delete where applicable) and maybe do some selective / PGR spraying with a nice spray window. Mint.

I do like to sign off on a positive 😛

All the best.

Mark Hunt