December 13th, 2021

Hi All,

‘Topsy-turvy’ is the phrase of the week I think….

According to the net, this term dates back to the 16th century and is likely derived from the old English word ‘Tearflian’ which means to roll over and over….

Well our ‘topsy-turvy’ year continues right to the end with double-digit day and night temperatures taking over from what we can normally expect at this time of year. ‘Topsy-turvy’ could also be used to describe the end to the Formula 1 season. I was just rolling up my running socks and trying to encourage my 58-year old, reluctant legs for a 10 mile run as Lewis and Mercedes headed towards the chequered flag with the same monotonous pace as always. You know, really exciting, “Can you book my hair appointment for after the race”, that kind of thing….when everything changed….”No, no, no” shouted Toto Wolfe as the safety car situation unfolded before him…..”Yes, yes, yes” shouted the Orange hordes in the grandstand and then Max Verstappen duly passed Lewis on the last lap of the last race of the season to seal victory.

Personally, I was delighted for Max and Red Bull, though I have nothing against Hamilton and Mercedes other than the fact that they have reigned supreme and made everything a bit dull really….So off I went with a spring in my step and ran a lovely 10-miler in the mud and 13°C missing out on a PB by 1 whole second. I blame a bunch of ramblers who wouldn’t get out of the way, not to mention the dog walkers……”He’s only being friendly you know” as it yaps and snaps at my heels…yeah right.. I am prepping for a Spring Half Marathon that didn’t happen due to Covid two years ago and may not happen again due to Omicron. I feel sorry for the science and the scientists here. They have dug us out of an almost certain Armageddon and continue to advise caution but business and the economy must make a buck, regardless. What price your life or someone else’s ?

Talking of making a buck….Anyone that has their spring fertiliser in stock will have done precisely that as urea is now tripping the books at £760 per mt, up from £160 ish this time last year…As urea climbs, so does every form of nitrogen linked to it and then others, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc, citric acid are all on an upwardly mobile trend price-wise with no signs of it abating. 2022 is going to be a year for changing your standard fertiliser management practice and having a re-think because it’s likely to last most of next year and I for one don’t think it’s ever going back to where it was….time will be our best judge on that.

In my mind it is no big deal, it’s market economics and pulling material over from the other side of the world is not feasible or viable over the longer term so we have to sort ourselves out where we can

As an industry, we can and will adapt. With challenge comes opportunity…

The same with food, just imagine what we will be paying in the future when the cost price is shooting up as it is…. No great shakes, we waste 30% of what we buy so it is obviously too cheap. Time for another re-alignment I think. Personally I was brought up to finish everything on my plate regardless of whether I liked it or not.

GFS Output – 13-12-21

Onto our weather…

So Monday looks to start dull and a tad unsettled with a band of heavy rain moving north east through North Wales, the north west of England and heading up to The North East. This rain is pushed along on a exceptionally mild, south west wind. There will be plenty of drizzly light showers around across the U.K and Ireland aside from the main rain front I’ve just mentioned with more rain pushing into Kerry and vectoring north and east across Ireland during the morning. Central and eastern England including The Midlands should miss most of this and have a dull but mild day with a moderate south westerly wind and temperatures pushing up into the low teens. Scotland look to have the lions share of any sunshine but here it’ll remain on the cool side with 7-8°C likely.

Onto Tuesday and overnight a band of heavy rain has pushed into The Western Isles and north west Scotland. Through the morning this will come and go and then re-assert itself later. This rain looks to stay pretty much across the north west Scotland with just the odd shower reaching the east. Further south and west across the remainder of the U.K & Ireland, Tuesday looks to be a dry, mild and pleasant day with spells of sunshine and light to moderate south westerly winds. Remaining mild across England and Wales with double-digit temperatures but Ireland and Scotland will stay cooler with 7-8°C likely.

Mid-week and another dry and pleasant day but noticeably cooler across England and Wales as the temperature aligns with Ireland and Scotland at 7-8°C. Rain showers across the west and north west of Ireland will push eastwards across Northern Ireland and into the north west of Scotland through the course of the day. Dropping south of this we may see some further showers across north western coasts but a pretty dry picture with some sunshine and cloud and feeling cooler in that moderate, but declining westerly wind.

Thursday sees that high pressure building and slowly edging northwards resulting in the winds dropping back and more cloud cover. They’ll still be some rain around across the north and north west of Scotland initially on Thursday and this may linger through the morning. Otherwise a reasonably nice day with light winds and cloud cover slowly breaking to give some wintry sunshine. What wind there is will be light and variable depending on your position relevant to the low pressure. Temperatures on the cool side compared to earlier in the week at 6-8°C.  As that high moves north, the winds for the south of England and Wales will swing round to the north east.

Closing out the week on Friday, we have a totally dry picture for the U.K & Ireland with clearing skies and cooler temperatures and a predominantly easterly airstream for more and more of the country. Slightly milder across the west / Ireland with more chance here of seeing the sun and indeed Ireland looks like having a lovely sunny, winters day with temperatures pushing up to 9°C. For England, Scotland and Wales, it may be foggy with light winds and cool temperatures meaning it’ll take a time to clear but you should also see some winters sunshine. 6-8°C here.

The outlook for the weekend is dry and cool with varying amounts of sunshine and a freshening easterly wind across England and Wales that’ll peg back temperatures somewhat.

Varying amounts of winter sunshine and a risk of frost on Sunday night as temperatures return to their season average.

So dry, cool and dull on the whole, especially for the eastern side of the U.K as Haar is likely to breeze in off The North Sea.

GFS Projected Output – 20-12-21

Weather Outlook

So as you can see from the GFS projected output above, we start next week with high pressure still firmly established over the U.K & Ireland. Bit of a pain really as its presence will reduce any chance of a White Christmas. Bang goes another Paddy Power bet as cold air sits out to the east of us. So next week looks settled with high pressure slowly weakening and tracking north east through the run up to Christmas. Cold air sits close by but as it stands now I see next week as cool, dull for the east and central areas with fog and night frosts. The wind will strengthen on the run up to Christmas and be predominantly north and north easterly so it’ll be chilly with it but not freezing. Dull and cold for Christmas Day I think, with it unlikely to provide crisp winters days unless you are in the west.

Agronomic Notes

Well the fact that we have high pressure running up to Christmas is both good and bad news I think from an agronomic perspective.

First up of course it does mean higher disease pressure, particularly in sheltered locations in the early part of this week and as the winds drop in the second half of this week, that disease threat will extend to more open locations with an increased risk of dew formation. Light winds mean that dew formation will likely continue to reform through the day and with low E.T levels, that means extended periods of plant leaf wetness. Our disease forecasting model picks out the Sunday, the 19th of December as having the longest likely dew formation, but it is highly dependent on your location, with more easterly locations picking up the wind and more westerly one’s, not.

You can see how this pans out for South Wales and Central England in the charts below..

Microdochium nivale projected disease pressure – 2 locations

Didn’t have time to do every location but for Ireland it’s looking similar to the Wales model output.

Now some things to say….

Firstly, before you all run to the Chemsafe, the actual forecast disease levels are around 75%, which is high but not super high.

The issue is the length of the disease pressure rather than the magnitude. For the Wales location you can see the graph is pretty much consistent disease pressure from the evening of the 15th right through to the 20th, so that’s a long time. The driver is the lighter winds causing a higher tendency for dew formation and re-formation. This extended period of leaf wetness will mitigate continuous fungal growth so old scars will become active but if you’re clean, you may not see much new infection. It really depends on whether you pick up extended periods of leaf wetness, where you are in your control program and whether you put a dew program in place.

So the take home here is that we have a priority for dew control application to mitigate the extended periods of plant leaf wetness.

Control-wise, depends on where you are in the cycle but I would be applying either a fungicide or a plant hardener mix depending on your situation early on this week and then following with a dew control. Of course the latter depends on your product choice and whether the supplier advocates mixing with a fungicide or leaving a window between the two.

Personally I sit in the latter camp although there is a case to apply the two together if the fungicide is a protectant like Fludioxonil because both materials should theoretically sit on the leaf. That said, it’s about as clear cut as the FIA declaring the Safety Car rules with lots of latitude either way dependent on the type of control product you’re applying and the nature of the dew control surfactant. So to be clear, always talk to your manufacturers technical representative, ask for trial information and referrals and if you don’t get these, choose caution.

The good news is that we have plenty of spray windows this week and next week unless you’re in the north west of Scotland 🙁

The other good news is that with temperatures falling away as we go through the week it means that any applications made are likely to last, be that control and / or dew control options with a declining Growth Potential predicted regardless of location (see Meteoturf outputs below)

Meteoturf output showing predicted reduction in daily growth patterns

So it isn’t all bad news and bless us it is looking like a largely dry forecast so that means it’ll be easier to get all of your pre-Christmas jobs done and dusted without lots of smeary worm casts, chasing spray days and being worried about leaf run-off.

Short and sweet blog today as tempus fugit my friends…

All the best, last blog of 2021 next week on the shortest day, summer is just round the corner 🙂

Mark Hunt