September 13th, 2021


Hi All,

Just back from a lovely week in Pwllheli (Puh·theh·lee) on the Lynn (Klinn) peninsula in North Wales. The area is predominantly welsh-speaking and I have to say what a lovely language it is to listen to and a lovely area to boot if you keep away from the Anglicised tourists traps like Abersoch and the like. To be honest, I was concerned about the potential for some anti-English sentiment in that neck of the woods but it couldn’t have been further from the truth as people and particularly the local fisherman I got chatting to were friendly and helpful. One negative though, I need to step up my exercise now I’m back, too much lovely Bara Brith 🙂

It is difficult to escape this job as I found on the first coastal walk out of Pwllheli which took me past Pwllheli golf club (pictured above). No fairway irrigation, didn’t look like tees either, so the greens were little islands in what was a pretty dry looking scene. A pretty course none the same and nice to see it busy. I chatted to some golfers who had caught the train up from Aberdyffi (Aberdovey) to play for the day, nice.

I also found peninsular weather is very difficult to forecast and interpret. We had a couple of days when heavy rain was forecast but looking at the radar, it pretty much tracked up the Welsh coast over the mountains of Snowdonia and didn’t make it to us. We also had one of the warmest September days on record for Wales and the hottest night and I see Scotland had their hottest September day for over 100 years last week.

GFS output 130921

General Weather Situation

So we start this week with a cool temperature, high pressure system over us and a sneaky BOB low pressure due to make an appearance across the south of the U.K on Tuesday. So Monday looks sees a showery, cool day for Ireland and the south west of England / Wales. These showers are a left over from rainfall across the west last night. Through the day we will see a continuation of showers across the south and west of Ireland, the south west of England and Wales, with some moving inland into more central northern areas later. Scotland looks to miss most of the rain but later today it is expected to push into the south west of Scotland, England and Ireland. A cool day after a cool start with high teens the best likely in any sunshine and a south easterly wind for most.

Onto Tuesday and overnight we see some rainfall across the west of the U.K and south east of Ireland. This is courtesy of a BOB low pressure that’ll push rain, some of it heavy into The South West and South Wales overnight and this will then track along the southern half of the U.K and slowly move west-east through the morning. Owing to the fact that this is a slow-moving low pressure, the level of rainfall will be high with 20mm + in some locations. By lunchtime it’ll be across into The Midlands and extending up into northern England but the south east may miss the worst. Ireland looks to pick up some light coastal showers across west and east coasts but will be largely dry, as will Scotland. Much cooler on Tuesday as that low pressure drags down cooler air from the north so expect mid-teens under the rain and high teens away from it.

Mid-week beckons and overnight that area of heavy rain has cleared East Anglia and pushed off into The North Sea. Wednesday looks a better day in terms of it being drier with only the north west of Scotland likely to pick up some showers in the second part of the day. For England, Ireland, Wales and most of Scotland, a dull (ish) day with some periods of sunshine and temperatures recovering from Tuesday’s low’s into the high teens but no higher courtesy of that northerly airstream ushered down by the low pressure.

Thursday sees a big Atlantic low pressure out to the north west of Ireland and through the day that’ll change the airstream to a milder south westerly, the change taking place from the west first. This low though will butt up against the weak continental high pressure that remains in place and that’ll stop it initially sweeping high winds and rain across the U.K & Ireland. So despite the proximity of the low pressure, Thursday looks like continuing the dry theme from Wednesday with just a few showers arriving across the west coast of Ireland late in the day. Milder with that change in the wind direction so high teens for most on Thursday.

Overnight into Friday and that low pressure makes headway eastwards bringing rain to Ireland and the west of the U.K. So Friday morning sees rain already clearing the west of Ireland but affecting The Midlands and the east coast stretching right up to the north. A dry start across The Irish Sea though. By mid-morning that band of rain is clearing Ireland and into the west of Wales and west coast of England and Scotland. This tight band of rain will then move slowly eastwards through the second part of Friday so most central and eastern areas look to stay dry for the day I’d say with the rain not arriving till after dark. Cooler again on Friday with that low pressure providing a fresher feel to the weather.

How does the weekend look ?

Well not too bad, a mixed outlook really with that rain clearing away from the east on Saturday morning to leave a reasonably dry picture. There’s a suggestion that some showers may develop across North Wales and track inland into The Midlands through the day but we will see. So Saturday not bad, cloudier across the west I’d say with some spells of pleasant sunshine.  Sunday sees a new band of rain push into the west of Ireland during the morning and this will track north and east bringing heavy rain into the north east of Ireland, south west of Scotland for the second part of the day. So away from that rain, we look pretty settled with nice conditions and temperatures in the mid to high teens. Not bad really.

GFS projected output 200921

Weather Outlook

So we start next week settled with high pressure holding off the low pressure out in The Atlantic. Now I’d say things are hanging in the balance a little because that trough breaking off from the bottom of the low looks set to push the jet stream lower. If it does that will allow the low pressure to push in during the first part of the week and bring us our first autumn storm with strong south westerly winds and rain by mid-week. It all hangs on the behaviour of that low though in the first part of the week. If it holds as is projected I can see rain across the southern half of the U.K on Monday pm and Tuesday acting as a forward guard for heavier rain pushing into Ireland overnight Tuesday into Wednesday together with strong winds. This low will push across the U.K and Ireland on Wednesday / Thursday before clearing east. The trailing edge of the low will pull down a north westerly air flow so that’ll mean a cooler end to the week I’d say. By the time we reach next weekend I think things will be settling down again across the southern half of the U.K but cooler and more changeable for the north.

I’d add that the ECMWF projection is for a slower development of the low pressure and a more sunshine and showers type outlook for next week with the south westerly airstream prevailing.

Agronomic Notes

Bit of a catch up day today as it is my first day back from hols 🙂

So a quick look back at August 2021, a month which will go down as a bit of a strange one with that east-west / north-south divide in terms of cloud cover, haar and lack of sunshine in some areas. Scotland being warmer and drier than the southern half of the U.K. The east being cloudy, dull and cool courtesy of that seemingly never ending run of north easterly winds that pulled cloud cover and cooler temperatures in from The North Sea. So how did it stack up GDD-wise ?

Well as we can see from the GDD summary output above (thanks as always to Sean for sending in the data and to Wendy for compiling), August 2021 will come in towards the low end of the GDD totals and breaking an increasing pattern from 2018 onwards of warm August’s.

When we apply that to the cumulative GDD total we end up well down on last year in terms of GDD and again towards the bottom end of the annual totals y.t.d. So despite the headlines of increasing warmth and climate change, the cooler start to 2021 and in particular, the cold, dull April have suppressed this trend.

We wait to see of course what the last quarter of the year brings though….

G.P & Rainfall stats – U.K locations

It is interesting when you look at both the U.K and Irish stats how consistent a month August 2021 turned out to be G.P-wise. Considering the geographical spread of the locations, most were within 3-5% of the total monthly G.P regardless of where they were located. The same goes for Ireland and suggests that the climate was really stable with only the odd BOB and Atlantic low to influence the weather with the west traditionally wetter than the east.

Amazing consistency when you look on it and a pretty dry month to boot with my location particularly parched. An honourable mention must go to Fife which is usually 25-30% lower from a G.P perspective across a month than other U.K locations but this time less than 10% indicating just how a good a summer Scotland has had from a weather perspective (rather than a greenkeeping one necessarily)

When you look at the Irish stats that consistency is echoed across the locations in terms of Growth Potential rather than rainfall..

Very similar to the U.K locations in terms of total monthly G.P, a gnats whisker down. Rainfall-wise of course there’s big variation between the west / north west and the east reflecting the fact that the eastern coastal area of Ireland is affected by similar (ish) conditions to the England during the summer.  Again staggeringly consistent.

Insect pressure

I got sent this piccie whilst on holiday (thanks Iain 🙂 ) and mused over it whilst consuming a lovely Flat White and a slice of Bara Brith at Caffi Largo in Pwllheli….When you look at the emerging adult density, it is staggering.

To me though there’s another staggering fact and that is there’s any grass cover there in the first place because obviously the grubs have been feeding on plant roots prior to emerging. This will I think become the future dynamic when it comes to comes to insect management. That is to say, can you generate enough rooting capacity to withstand the effects of a grazing population of Leatherjackets, Chafers, delete where applicable. The same is true of plant parasitic nematodes (PPN’s)….the tightrope to walk is one of creating (and maintaining) a healthy grass plant population above and below ground (rooting density as opposed to just root depth) sufficient enough to withstand the effects of a background population of PPN’s. Normally (but not always) it takes a secondary factor to reduce plant health / rooting for PPN’s to then become an issue. You can then spend an age (and a small fortune) trying to treat the PPN when really you’re dealing with the symptom not the cause.

Now with Leatherjackets we know we are challenged. We have increasing populations (probably due to climate change) courtesy of multiple generations across a year and limited chemical solutions (not in terms of A.I efficacy more in terms of treatment timing and frequency) vs. what we use to have in the past with Chlorpyrifos which was so cheap, multiple applications were easy to make across a season (dependent on the label). The same is true fungicide-wise. In the past we had more effective fungicides with higher A.I loadings. Now we have fewer, less effective fungicides with lower A.I loadings and looking forward you can only see this situation getting worse rather than better. It makes rotation of A.I’s practically impossible to achieve in reality with the choice the end-user has to face being to rotate from a moderately effective A.I to a less effective one, purely to tick the rotation box and to try and prolong the emergence of resistance.

Put the two of them together and to me that’s our biggest challenge.

How to maintain the standards of surface the punter expects and pays for vs. less and less tools in the toolbox…..

Dovetail that in with the economic challenge affecting our industry in terms of rising costs of supply, logistics and raw materials vs. flat budgets and you have a high pressure job scenario at present in the turfgrass industry. Small wonder there’s so many vacant positions….

Sorry to finish on a negative but there’s no point in glossing over the truth of where we are currently…It’s easy to say things have to change but much harder to say how….

All the best.

Mark Hunt