August 2nd

Hi All,

First up, a huge thanks for the kind words and comments after my announcement last week, you really are a first class bunch and I’m humbled and grateful. Also thanks to everyone who wants me to continue trashing my Monday morning as well typing this here blog, I think I’m grateful for that so we’ll see how the next few months pans out.

Now a couple of weather-related things caught my eye recently…the first was a report from The Met Office on climate change and its effect on the U.K, you can find a summary here

Courtesy of The Met Office, link above

According to the report, 2020 was the first year that the annual values for rainfall, temperature and sunshine were all in the top ten in the same year. 2020 was 3rd warmest, 5th wettest and 8th sunniest on record for the UK. I think that kind of sums up where we are heading as a country and that includes Ireland (though I think less of an effect here because of the greater distance from the continent). More rainfall, more heat, more extremes of weather. Of course the climate change ‘nay sayers’ can always find a year when there was a similar weather event but I think the key difference is that we are getting all of these extremes in the same year.

If you read the summary I linked to, you’ll see that the 10 warmest years have been since the turn of the century and many of the wettest ones as well.

A few weeks ago I discussed the heat plumes in the north west of America and Canada and now they’re affecting Turkey. I’ll repeat, IMHO it’s only a matter of time before we are on the receiving end of the same, as we have a heat source (Africa) and a vector (jet stream) and so the potential for a plume to build from there and push up across southern Europe and into the U.K is increasingly likely in my view. Above is the GFS projection for 10th August and first up you can see that purple jobbie again, that’s extreme heat well into the 40’s and you can see the plume across The Med.

Climate change is a very real phenomenon for the U.K & Ireland and its effects will be far-reaching for sure. Investing in drainage and irrigation are both expensive but necessary I’d say and we should also think about grass species. For sure Poa annua won’t be able to withstand such temperatures and I’d be concerned about Fescue cooking in its own fibre, so maybe over the next 5-10 years we will come to see that sward transition is no longer a subject for discussion but a real and necessary objective.

I think it will also have some clear repercussions for pest and diseases as well. It makes me wonder how prepared our industry is for the future let alone the present….

On a more light hearted note, big thanks to my team at the Woburn suppliers day for coming in 2nd overall.

Messer’s McKenzie, Richardson, Morrison and Wilson performed admirably.

I was the motivational coach as you can see from my demeanour in the photo above  ( 🙂 ) and rallied them with my anecdotes on photoperiod, organic matter build up and the merits of a good PAR sensor on a Davis weather station. (Well it took their minds off worrying about their golf game)

All I can say is we left a lot of points out there and our game dropped off markedly after a stop at the Halfway House. I blame a metabolic dip for their loss of golfing ability but on a serious note, great fun, a great craic and thanks to John Clarke and his staff for presenting a great golf course….

General Weather Situation

For the meantime though, we are in a trough pattern and whilst out walking yesterday I remarked to my long-suffering, significant other that I was very glad for this. Every week that goes by in the summer without excessive heat is a blessing for me, you sun worshippers, be careful what you wish for…look at Turkey this week and ponder what price for a tan ???

So this week we have low pressure or more precisely low pressures in charge with a BOB low pressure coming in mid-week onwards and then an Atlantic low pressure hot on its heels to ‘influence’ the weekend. I was going to type ‘fek up’ but thought that rude…..No surprise then that’s there is plenty of rainfall in the forecast starting with today across Ireland with heavy rain currently into the beautiful counties of Galway, Sligo and Donegal (though I might not say that today if I was sitting under it). During the morning this rain will move eastwards and we will also see showers across The South West, South Wales and the southern half of England later. Scotland should miss the rain and have a pleasant day, can’t believe how dry they are up there but lads and lasses, there’s plenty of rain heading your way for sure this week. So temperatures overnight were only low double figures and will be at best high teens today with Scotland the warmest for sure 🙂

Overnight into Tuesday and a dry start for most, certainly the morning should be mainly dry before more rain pushes into the west of Ireland with the 3 counties mentioned above in the firing line again. With saturated ground from the previous day there could be some flooding on Tuesday afternoon. They’ll be some light showers across western coasts of the U.K but otherwise ok I think. A warmer day than Monday with light south westerly winds ushering temperatures up into the low twenties for most, with Ireland in the high teens. That rain across the west of Ireland moves eastwards overnight into Wednesday and by dawn it’ll be affecting the west of Ireland and west of the U.K, west Wales, The South West and western Scotland,  Through the course of Wednesday morning the rain will moves north eastwards clearing Ireland as it does so. So we will see plenty of rain for the west and south west of Scotland during Wednesday and also the north west of England. Through the course of Wednesday this rain will move across Scotland and the north west of England. South of the Mersey / Humber I think will be dry and pleasant on Wednesday, as will Ireland. Similar temperatures to Tuesday, except for the rain-affected areas that is.

Thursday sees the boot firmly on the other foot as this time the main emphasis of the rain looks southerly. So right from the off we will see showers across the south west of England and Ireland, with a belt moving across Wales and the north of England. During the morning this rain band looks to intensify across the south east and east of England with plenty of rain here (there goes my renovations at Throws Farm, ho hum…). We will also see rain across the north of England and north east of Scotland. Along with this rain we will see strong southerly winds as well. A cooler day as you’d expect with temperatures in the high teens for the U.K & Ireland.

Closing out the week on Friday we see a drier day but still with some rain / showers across the north west coast of Ireland, the north east of Scotland and the U.K. This rain will move inland across Ireland through the day. Across the north east of Scotland that rain will be heavy. Later in the day we will also see rain build across The South West and that’ll set the theme for the weekend I am afraid with more rain arriving across southern England. South and east of this rain it’ll be a reasonably pleasant day with temperatures in the high teens and some sunshine as well.

The theme for the weekend is I’m afraid ‘unsettled’…

Saturday sees rain across the southern half of the U.K and during the day this will push north and eastwards intensifying to a band along the north east of the U.K. Ireland looks to have some light showers but nothing too dramatic until later in the day when the rain will intensify for the south east of Ireland across Cork and Wexford / south Leinster. High teen temperatures are likely and always a degree or two down for Ireland with a moderate to strong westerly wind in situ. Sunday sort of follows a re-run with showers across the north east of England, Wales and the southern half of England, all coasts of Ireland and across Scotland. Again later in the day we will see this rain intensify to the north east coast of the U.K and into Wales / The Midlands. Another unsettled weekend with high teen temperatures the best that we can muster.

Weather Outlook

So next week we look to start unsettled with the trough pattern still in place but before you slump in your chair in a state of resignation and despair, fear not because we have a finger of high pressure building across the southern half of the U.K and Ireland which will introduce some warmth and settled conditions for most of next week with temperatures building nicely into the low – mid twenties. Now of course this won’t be the situation everywhere, we do live on an island, (Cue dull Status Quo song) a big, congested one at that, but an island all the same. So we will see some rain next week but for the north and west which actually needs it for sure so rain for the northern half of the U.K, especially from mid-week onwards. As we approach the end of next week we will see temperatures back off as a north westerly wind pushes cooler, wetter air further south. So a north-south divide sort of week after Monday’s rain for most for both Ireland and the U.K.

Agronomic Notes

Although we have just tip-toed into August I’m not yet ready to do a full look back at July. I do however have data from our default location in Thame, Oxfordshire (thanks Sean, Wendy for prepping) so that’ll do for now…

So July will go down as one of the warmer July months we have endured and for some areas, probably one of the wettest as well. Like the Met Office report discusses, it will become more and more common to see warmest and wettest record statistics in the same timeframe as we plunge from a peak to a trough in the jet stream. 373.5 was the total GDD for July which puts it in the top half of the highest GDD figures for July but by no means approaching what we saw back in 2018 (thankfully)

Year-to-date GDD we are not yet past the 1,000 mark and that’s primarily a legacy of the very cold and dry April that we endured and the cool, wet May. So I’ll be surprised if this year breaks the 2,000 mark at year end unless we get served up something pretty fruity for the rest of August and September. Whatever the temperature, day length is declining rapidly by the end of August and so it’s less likely that any September heatwave can really affect the stats, not impossible though.

Heat, rain and humidity…..

So as commented on above, we are due to see more temperature and more rainfall and that means more humidity. Now you often here it quoted that ‘warm air holds more moisture’, well technically this isn’t correct, it’s just a convenient way of explaining water vapour dynamics to the masses (and that includes me). If you read up about it as I have done you will understand that it is all to do with the energy state of the water molecule and the equilibrium reaction between water evaporating and water condensing. When air is warmer, water molecules exist at a higher energy state and are therefore less likely to condense back into water, so the equilibrium is tipped in favour of higher evaporation (more water molecules become energised and ‘escape’ a liquid state in water and are released into the air). So we have the ability during hot periods of weather to evaporate more and carry more water into the atmosphere. It’s probably easier to understand when you consider drying your hair (not really appropriate for me as you can see from the image above I have a decreasing amount) because you use hot air to dry your hair as more of the water molecules sitting on your hair follicles can move from a liquid state into a vapour state. As an experiment why don’t you ask your children to try and dry their hair with cold air rather than hot air (to save money arf arf) , see what they say and then ask them to explain why…..

You can see from these stats below from The Oxfordshire how the higher temperatures drove up E.T during July and how more water evaporated when the humidity was lower during this period. It doesn’t always follow that higher temperatures mean more E.T of course because other factors (like wind and humidity for one) are involved.

You can see we had a lot of humid days in July this year at this location and that in turn drove up disease pressure with plenty of the humidity-related diseases like Fairy Ring, Red Thread and Dollar Spot in evidence. The Smith Kerns Dollar Spot prediction model for this location shows significant pressure through the month peaking in the 3rd week. (see below)

So like the 2nd half of June, July represented more in the way of disease pressure and a tricky month to manage grass in some instances.

During the high E.T days we saw plenty of Take all crop up as well….

Ok that’s me for this week, I really want to talk about organic matter control / aeration but it’s such a big subject that I need to start this blog earlier if I’m to get it finished before publish time !

All the best…

Mark Hunt