25th October 2021

Hi All,

Well some good news (well I’m assuming it is good news) in that I’ll be continuing this blog at least up until BTME 2022 (where I’ll be speaking incidentally :)) and then after that we will see. For the time being then you’re stuck with me 😛

Out walking on Rutland Water’s lovely peninsula yesterday, the countryside had a distinctly autumn hue to it although the leaves are still on many trees and our autumn migrants are yet to arrive. To date I haven’t seen or heard any Redwings or Fieldfares heading over to us from Scandinavia. Normally you can hear their shrill whistle at night but so far nothing. Looking at the Davis and Netatmo weather maps it still looks reasonably mild over in Sweden, Norway and Finland so maybe they’re hanging on for a bit and waiting for some helpful easterlies to whisk them over. Well they may be waiting for awhile yet….

GFS output – 25-10-21

Weather-wise we are sitting right under the path of the jet stream so it is neither northerly, nor southerly-orientated. As you’ll see from Paul’s animated GIF, we are set fair for the foreseeable so that means a westerly / south westerly wind dominating and unsettled weather (particularly for the north of the U.K)  as low pressure systems move through, a brief hiatus and then a repeat. No sign of cold weather as I sit and type this now.

General Weather Situation

So as mentioned above, a changeable week is in store for us with a sunshine and showers sort of scenario for most and some very heavy rain mixed in as well. In fact already today we have a raft of heavy showers pushing across the southern half of the U.K and stretching up to The Borders. Plenty of space in-between them though. The same for Ireland, some showers across the west and like the ones across the U.K, these will push north and east during the morning. Later into the morning and early afternoon we will see showers and heavier rain for the north west of Scotland and maybe for the south coast of England. Temperature-wise quite a bit of variation with Scotland and Ireland down in the low double figures 11-12°C, whereas for England and Wales we will be closer to 14-15°C with plenty of sunshine and fewer in the way of showers away from the south and west.

Onto Tuesday and overnight, an Atlantic low pressure system has pushed into Ireland and already by dawn it’ll be clearing the west of Ireland and making landfall across the north west of England and west of Scotland. By mid-morning this front will stretch from North Wales up to Scotland with Ireland relatively clear now. Clear also will be the southern half of the U.K and with a strong to blustery south westerly wind, it’ll feel really mild with temperatures pushing up towards 16-17°C here. A little cooler under the cloud and rain, but still 13-14°C here across Ireland, the north of England and Scotland. No sooner has one front cleared Scotland than another will turn up by late afternoon to give a wet second half of Tuesday here, particularly across the west and north west of Scotland where it’ll be pretty wet indeed. This rain front will also push into the north west of Ireland and slowly sink south and east overnight into Wednesday morning. Across The Irish Sea, that overnight rain for the west of Scotland will sink south into The Borders and the north west of England. Drier south and east of this again.

Wednesday sees that overnight rain front stretching from Kerry diagonally across to Cavan and then into The North West and The Borders. South and east of this it’ll be dry. That rain over the south west and west of Ireland looks potentially pretty heavy for Wednesday morning. One of the reasons for this is that the front is very slow moving so by lunchtime it’ll be down into the southern half of Ireland and across The Lake District. During the afternoon it continues to sink south and east slowly into North Wales and the north of England. Away from this rain front, so north, south and west of it, it’ll be a mild, blustery day with some sunshine and a strong south westerly wind. Mild though again with temperatures in the mid-teens for all areas, whether you’re under the rain or not !

Onto Thursday and that rain front is still on its way south and east so it’s expected to be across the west and north of Wales and the north west / north east of England by dawn. A second front will be across Ireland to give a showery start to the day here. This front of rain moves a little further south and then effectively stops in a line stretching from The South West up through Wales, the north of England to north of The Humber. It’ll feature pretty heavy rain for these areas. Ireland’s rain looks to fizzle out to showers on Thursday morning and north and south of this diagonal rain front looks to be dry until into the evening when the front sinks into The Midlands. Ireland will see another front push into the north west on Thursday night. It’s that sort of weather, once one front departs another one isn’t far away. That said for England, excluding The South West, the week should be mainly dry through to Thursday night when that front finally sinks down into southern England. Similarly mild temperatures for Thursday, 14-15°C under that rain front and pushing up to 16°C away from it across the south of England.

Overnight into Friday sees the dry week come to an end for The Midlands and south of England as well as western-facing coasts. A sneaky, southerly low will push rain into the south of England early doors and through the course of the morning, this rain will move northwards into The Midlands, joining up with the westerly rain front that is moving east across the west of England, Wales, The North West and west of Scotland. Ireland and Scotland will see mainly showers on western facing coasts through Friday but drier than earlier in the week. Through the course of Friday afternoon, that rain across central areas will push eastwards and intensify, so a wet and soggy end to the day across the east. Remaining mild and still with a south westerly wind direction though the strength of the wind should decrease a little into Friday.

The outlook for the weekend is of course unsettled with some particularly heavy rain moving eastwards across England and Wales through the course of Saturday, So you may start dry but you won’t be for long 🙂 Ireland looks to be mainly dry on Saturday, showers in the west probably and Scotland looks to stay dry to late afternoon when that heavy rain front pushes up from northern England. Sunday looks a kind of messy day with rain for Scotland, Wales and the west of England breaking down into showers. The same for Ireland, sunshine and showers but most of these across the west it has to be said. Not too bad for England on Sunday, still the threat of showers in the morning but on the whole reasonably dry with the wind swinging round to the south east as that low departs.

GFS output 01-11-21

Weather Outlook

So from the GFS output above you can see the low pressure just off the coast of Jutland, Denmark as we start next week. It’s this low that gave us such an unsettled end to the week and weekend.

So what’s coming after it I hear you say ?   Well another one of course…..

So Monday sees a brief hiatus but still with plenty of rain around across the U.K & Ireland. The next low pressure promptly arrives and begins to push in rain across Ireland and the southern half of the U.K through Tuesday and then we see a mainly showery picture, particularly for the north and west from mid-week onwards when the low pressure will pull down northerly winds on its trailing edge and cool down the weather a tad. So cooler, fresher and unsettled through next week and as we approach next weekend, a ridge of high pressure dries us all off somewhat but currently it is not projected to push up enough to keep us totally dry. So next weekend could see further rain for the north and west, pushing into the south later if that high pressure stays west of us. I’d say the wind direction will be north westerly / northerly, so I’d expect low double figures to be the norm next week with single figure night temperatures.

Agronomic Notes

Grass Growth & Rainfall Patterns – October 2021….

This month has seen some pretty mild air over the U.K & Ireland which has resulted not only in some pretty high disease pressure at times but also significant grass growth.

In a way this is a mixed blessing because although it takes more cutting, it does also provide consistent growth which comes in handy for recovery from late aeration and / or healing up summer Anthracnose and early autumn Microdochium nivale scars.

Looking at 2 locations across the U.K, it’s amazing the consistency of the grass growth as depicted by the Growth Potential formulae. Normally at this time of year we start to see the difference between cooler and wetter weather across the north and west vs. warmer and drier weather across the south and east but that isn’t the way 2021 is panning out.

Growth patterns have been very consistent across the U.K and Ireland regardless of location and that’s because the temperature profile has been less regionalised than we are used to seeing. Rainfall patterns have also been affected by the presence of numerous BOB (Bay of Biscay) low pressure systems which as we know tend to confine rainfall to the south of the country whilst the north is ‘relatively’ unscathed.

If you look at the graph below you’ll notice two distinct features, the total amount of rain is higher in the south of England vs. the North Wales location and the pattern of rainfall is completely different. BOB low pressure systems tend to be slow-moving compared to their Atlantic cousins and so we see large rainfall dumps associated with them, rather than more consistent, lower daily rainfall totals.

So for the Sevenoaks location, we see that for October 2021 so far they have recorded 115 mm vs. 70.2 mm for Harlech.

Of that 115 mm recorded at the Sevenoaks location, 99 mm of it fell in just four days of the month with 32.6 mm, 24.6 mm, 25.8 mm and 16.2 mm daily totals recorded. There has been a total of 11 rain days out of 25 for this location. If we contrast this with Harlech, where the highest daily rainfall totals were 12.2 mm on two different days and 19 days out of the 25 so far this month have been rain days.

So hopefully you get the picture, less rain days but higher daily rainfall totals in the south of England vs. more rain days, but lower daily rainfall totals in North Wales.

This difference in the pattern of rainfall has far reaching effects on turf management not to mention playability with bunker washes, saturated rootzones and potential hypoxia (lack of oxygen) a feature. Contrast that with the Harlech location where the lack of drying days has meant the turf stays consistently wet despite the location.

Now I’m not suggesting this is always the case, but I am using it to highlight the difference between rain from Atlantic weather systems that tend to move across the U.K & Ireland quickly vs. BOB low pressure systems that tend to be more ‘trough-like’ in their behaviour and end up being slow-moving as a result. This week for instance the boot will be well and truly on the other foot with the north west and westerly facing coasts in the firing line for rainfall whereas the south will have less until another BOB event later in the week.

The two graphs above by contrast highlight the similarities between the two locations in terms of grass growth so far this month (projected G.P figures are shown in lighter green).

You can clearly see that both the south east location and the North Wales location have ‘enjoyed’ very mild air at certain points this month which has promoted both significant grass growth but also disease activity as we know. At certain points this month, both locations showed a Daily Growth Potential figure > 0.9 (90% of optimum) and even for the last week of October we are expecting the figure to be > 0.7 before things drop away a tad as the wind direction changes from south westerly to north / north westerly at the start of next week.

Again these high daily G.P totals have widescale implications for turfgrass maintenance.

More natural growth = less fertiliser input required…(good job at present) 

Higher soil temperatures later into the autumn mean soil microbial activity continues later than it used to, converting organic to mineral nitrogen which thankfully (at today’s prices anyway) means less reliance on applied N. Speaking of which those raw material prices are still going only one way to the point where I believe most of the downstream consumers can no longer afford it. I published a chart of raw material prices the other week, here’s the same chart for a few weeks later !

CAN = Calcium ammonium nitrate / DAP = Diammonium phosphate / MOP = Murate of Potash (Potassium chloride)

Fertiliser raw material prices

Nitrogen is just plain bonkers….and potassium isn’t much better……

I believe the bubble will burst at some point next year when demand drops as end-users look for alternatives or adopt alternative strategies and upstream suppliers crap themselves whilst the speculators move onto something else. The same thing happened in 2008/9 but for primarily different reasons (think Opec and cartels) and if prices are going to stay at this level for the foreseeable then a lot of technologies that we currently use will become uneconomic and you as end-users / consumers will adopt a different practice. Such is the ying and yang of life….

Time will tell if I’m right….

More grass growth = more cutting which is especially a problem at the moment if the soil is sitting wet and warm because of increased casting worm activity. Remember I talked about a late season PGR + Iron application, well if you made one it’ll be paying dividends currently and into early November I’d say. Add in the increased cost of fuel and the ever-present shortage of labour and you have two more compelling reasons why it would have been a good idea to knock growth back with a PGR earlier this month. (I’m talking outfield and difficult to maintain areas when the ground gets wet specifically)

I’ve talked about disease enough this month but it has been significant, that said, not as bad as I expected and there’s a reason behind that which not only intrigues me but possibly provides an idea for the future in terms of disease management 🙂

Ok that’s it, I’m an hour late already in publishing this blog.

All the best for the coming week guys and gals.

Mark Hunt