27th January – Mini (ish) Blog

Hi All,

Another mini blog this week until I get sorted family-wise. On that front apologies for anyone looking for me on the stand on Thursday at BTME, I had to ship out early on Thursday morning to get to hospital. Not the nicest experience I can tell you but an enlightening one driving through Harrogate at 2.30 a.m. and seeing  who was still out on the town !

BTME Early Bird Run

Image top right, Dan lecturing runners on working mechanism of Instrata Elite 🙂

It wasn’t all bars and beer at Harrogate, thanks to Syngenta’s Early Bird Run on the Wednesday morning at 6.15 a.m. Thanks also to the ever-present, Headland fitness guru, Alex Hawkes, for dragging me out of bed at 5.45 a.m. to run this event and the previous morning….I’m not a morning runner but I’m learning to be one thanks to Alex !!!!

Brilliant idea by the Syngenta team, great for BIGGA to get behind it and thanks to everyone that turned up and supported and / or did the run. Think there was around 120 people and for everyone turning up, £10 was donated by Syngenta to C.A.L.M. You can read more about their cause here

 I can tell you it wasn’t easy getting out of bed that morning but knowing it was another £10 out of Rod, Dan and Glenn’s Syngenta budget spurred me on 🙂

On a serious note personally I know all too well how keeping fit by running, mountain biking and walking is good for my state of mind and how much good it does me in general.

It’s great for managing ‘Dark Dog Days’ as my mate calls them. We all do it differently I know and some of you may not have to, well you are lucky. Keeping fit and getting outdoors is so good for your mental perspective, at least that’s what I tell the Mrs when I’m fly fishing and burning my way through 3.500 calories at the same time !!! (Fly fishing is a very active form of fishing !) 

General Weather Situation

OK, so here’s a summary of the week ahead weather-wise ;

So this week will see a succession of low pressure systems push through the U.K & Ireland. This has already seen rain move through this morning and more rain showers, some of them wintry and heavy over higher ground are set to cross Ireland and the U.K, pushing up from the south west. Scotland will also see a belt of heavy rain / wintry showers move from the south west across central and eastern areas later. Winds will strengthen through the day and stay reasonably mild southerlies / south westerlies. Temperature-wise 7-9°C is likely.

Overnight into Tuesday we will see more rain move across the U.K & Ireland but by Tuesday morning the wind will shift round to a cool north-westerly and that’ll push the rain across The South West and also the north and Scotland. Much windier on Tuesday with a bracing feel to the weather and any rain could fall as sleet or snow north of The Pennines. Drier across central and southern areas but still with rain across the west and north-west of Ireland.

Wednesday sees high pressure across France push the rain more northwards and so we should have a largely dry day for the U.K & Ireland save for a mix of rain and wintry showers across the north-west of Scotland. So a drier day on Wednesday for most and with the continuing strength of the wind, a good drying day to boot ! 

Thursday maintains that wet theme for Scotland I’m afraid in what will be a very wet week up there with totals > 50mm not unlikely for the week. We may see some southerly-orientated rain across the south coast of England and Channel Islands. A change in the wind to south westerly will mean a pick up in temperatures with 8-10°C for Thursday. 

Friday sees those winds strengthen as another low pressure pushes rain across Ireland overnight and into the west of the U.K through Friday. This band of rain is projected to move into the west during Friday morning but fizzle out later in the day. With a strong westerly wind, temperatures will pick up further into double figures with 10-12°C likely at the end of the week. So central and eastern counties look dry again on Friday till later in the day or maybe that rain won’t reach you at all. Scotland and the north-west of England looks to see more of the rain / wintry showers unfortunately to cap off what will have been a pretty wet and cold week up there. 

The outlook for the weekend looks very mild, pretty windy and unsettled with showers pushing across Ireland and into the west of the U.K on both Saturday and Sunday. Some of these showers are likely inland especially on Saturday with Sunday’s rain likely to be confined to more northern areas as the wind begins to reduce a little later on Sunday. We should maintain double figures through the weekend temperature-wise.

Weather Outlook

At first sight the GFS projected output (above) for next Monday doesn’t look exactly brilliant with a southerly-orientated low pressure set to swing over us through the course of Monday / Tuesday. So expect next week to continue the mild, windy and unsettled theme from the weekend however there may be (just may be) a hint of a change on the way with high pressure projected to start building from mid-week, next week leading to drier, cooler conditions for everyone. So I expect us to go colder from mid-week, next week with a northerly wind, the return of night frosts and much cooler day and night time temperatures. It wouldn’t surprise me if this change heralds in an extended period of colder weather with the risk of some snow showers for the middle of February. That said it’s a long way off from a forecasting perspective but with a high building it means a northerly and easterly aspect to the weather is more likely in my books. February is traditionally the coldest month of the year so we can’t complain as long as spring starts pretty soon afterwards that is !!!! 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Microdochium nivale activity

On Monday morning of last week the disease model I’ve been working on predicted some pretty heavy disease pressure later in the week. I took a look at the weather patterns and predicted temperatures, humidity, etc and I couldn’t really see it myself. The temperatures looked too low for Microdochium activity. 

I was happy to be proved wrong and I guess we have now reached a point where the predictive algorithm is better than its creator (well mine and Paul from I.T’s work to be exact).

So last week we did indeed see quite aggressive activity and when you look at the graph below you can clearly see why…..

It was indeed true the night temperatures were nothing to shout about but for a period of nearly 4 days we saw very little change in temperature between day maximum and night minimum.

In conjunction with this we also saw very heavy dew pressure giving extended periods of plant leaf wetness. Indeed for this whole period the level of leaf wetness didn’t dip below 10 out of total of 15 representing total leaf saturation. 

If you want to get a feel for this, the sensor above was reading 12 (out of 15 minimum) during the period of heavy dew when this photo was taken.

The result was re-activity around existing scars with some activity off green on collars, aprons and tees. If the night temperatures had been higher we would have seen more new activity rather than just re-activity on older scars in the main.

Even more interesting for me than the actual climatic data was the weather generating it.

I can start to see another pattern emerging which could in the future help increase the accuracy of disease modelling. Won’t say anymore than that because one has to protect ones I.P doesn’t one ?? 🙂

A bit of growth going on now that soil oxygen levels have increased….

It might just be me but I sensed this weekend that we saw a nice nudge up in growth last week with the milder day and night temperatures. When you look at the Growth Potential stats for January so far (these are from Northamptonshire), you can see that the grass plant has rarely been dormant this month and the cumulative effect of this growth is starting to become apparent. There’s another factor at play here as well. 

With the consistently saturated conditions of the last 16 weeks, soil oxygen levels have been very low and so even if the grass plant was able to grow because of applied nutrition and conducive air temperature, it  was unable do so. Soil oxygen levels have been growth-limiting on and off (but more on than anything) from the 23rd September, 2019 or whenever it started raining with you. Every time we get significant rain now you can see grass cover dropping away as the ground becomes saturated once again. Thankfully with a dry spell at the beginning of January and last week as well, it has given the soil a chance to dry down somewhat and most importantly the grass plant to breath again. Hence now we will see growth throughout this week in most areas of the U.K and Ireland, though Scotland with its excessive rainfall may take you back to square one again I’m afraid 🙁

OK that’s me for now.

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt