January 25th

Hi All,

Happy Burns Night to all you Northern Celts, enjoy your Haggis, which I just hearing on radio 4 first originated in England in 1430 🙂 (You can keep this one)

No prizes for guessing the weather we got over the weekend with a veritable dump of snow. As I look out of my office window the sun is coming up and everything is glistening. Absolutely beautiful and a shame to be in typing on a pc rather than out enjoying a bracing, socially-distanced walk. We dropped close to -10°C here last night, I don’t think we have been close to those sort of temperatures since the winter of 2010. The air was beautiful and sharp on your lungs first thing :). This cold snap is going to be relatively short-lived but I’d take good odds on it not being the last before we see spring again. As explained last week we are sitting in a weather pattern now where periodically we pick up a wave of milder (and usually wetter air) before cold air streams southwards and takes us back to frosts and snow. You can see this illustrated on Meteoblue’s Thickness / Pressure output for this coming Tuesday ;

 

Cold air residing over the north and east and the trough that we experienced over the weekend extending right down into North Africa, Turkey and Greece. On the left you can see a ridge of warm air pushing in from The Atlantic which will last a few days before being pushed south again by more cold air. Interesting from a weather dynamic and for once we have some real cooling over The North Pole and Siberia.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a pretty settled day with long spells of winter sunshine and cold temperatures across the U.K and Ireland. There are some snow showers around across the south west and north east of Scotland with a few straying through The Cheshire Gap but otherwise it’s sunshine, invigorating cold and the crunch, crunch of snow if you have some. Light winds today from the west to north west will strengthen through the day to add to a nippy wind chill. Temperature-wise I’d expect 3-5°C to be the order of the day.

Onto Tuesday and that change begins to take effect as milder air streams into the west of Ireland with a south west wind and rain pushing into the south west and west of Ireland before dawn. This rain front will move quickly across Ireland during the first part of the morning and will begin to clear Kerry by lunchtime. It’s a fast-moving rain band this one and by mid-morning it’ll already be across The Irish Sea and into The South West and Wales falling as snow across its leading edge before changing to rain as that milder air follows in behind. This mix of rain, sleet and snow moves eastwards over the course of Tuesday but may not reach the far eastern counties till after dusk. Further north this band of rain will become increasingly wintry for the north of England and Scotland but again it’s unlikely to reach the north east of Scotland till well after dusk.

So we will see temperatures rise from the west as we go through the day but for the east and south expect another chilly day with temperature down at 3-5°C again. For the west it won’t be mild, mild quite yet but I’d expect 6-8°C for Ireland with temperatures rising through the night.

Wednesday sees that rain band clear the U.K overnight to leave a mainly dry picture as we start the day. For Ireland we see a new band of rain across Connacht pushing east through the course of Wednesday morning into north Leinster across The Irish Sea and into North Wales. They’ll be the odd shower reaching inland as well. By lunchtime a new band of rain pushes into the south west of Ireland and later into The South West. This will move north and east across Ireland and push up from The South West into western England accompanied by strengthening south westerly winds and increasing temperatures. As we go through the day this will move north and east but it won’t get to northern and eastern England till well after dusk. So for Wales we see a mainly dry day but with rain arriving into the south close to dusk. For England, wet in the south west and this rain will push eastwards but central and eastern areas may stay dry most of the day, it’ll be mild and dull with strengthening south westerly winds. Scotland looks to stay dry, dull and cold with the wind pushing in from the south east here. A big variation in temperatures from 10°C  across Ireland and the southern half of the U.K, but for Scotland close to 4°C with that different wind direction.

Thursday sees that rain move slowly across Ireland and the U.K overnight but by dawn it’ll be clearing both to the north east with the bulk of the rain now north of The Wash stretching up to Scotland where it’ll fall as a mix of wintry showers with the lower temperatures. Ireland will see the same north-south divide with the north west and north seeing rain but the south and south west drier. That front of rain and wintry showers will stay over the northern half of the U.K for all of Thursday and the same for Ireland. South of this will see gaps in the cloud and some sunny intervals developing so not a bad day here for the south of Ireland, England and Wales. Temperature-wise, feeling lovely across the areas that see the sunshine with 8-10°C but under that northern cloud, rain and wintry showers, you’ll be lucky to see any better than 3-4°C. (sorry) It’ll be windy on Thursday with strong westerly winds.

Closing out another lockdown week and overnight into Friday that rain will be stretched across the north of Ireland, northern England from The Wash north up to The Tay estuary. As with earlier in the week it’ll be more like a mix of wintry showers and rain, especially over elevation. South of that band of rain will see some sunshine and nice temperatures despite a strong north westerly wind which will swing round to the north east through the course of the day. That rain / wintry shower band will push northwards into Central Scotland as we go through the morning, intensifying as it does so but it will stay pretty entrenched from The Wash northwards throughout Friday so the driest areas will be south of this. It won’t be a completely dry picture for the south though as showers will develop across The South West through the course of Friday and remain a feature of the day. The same is true for Ireland, wintry showers for the north and rain for the south west / west with central and eastern counties staying dry but dull. A mixed day then with not bad temperatures away from that wintry shower / rain mix until later in the day when the wind shifts northwards and it becomes chillier.

That change in wind direction sets the scene for the weekend with Saturday looking like a sunshine and showers day initially with some wintry showers first thing across central and western areas of England pushed on by a raw north westerly wind. This wind will decline during the day. Ireland will be mainly dry except for some showers across the south and west of the country during the morning. A cold but dry one for Scotland. Temperature-wise we are talking 6-8°C across Ireland who enjoy a southerly wind but across The Irish Sea this will translate to 3-5°C for most of the U.K though Wales and The South West should be  a little milder. Sunday heralds the arrival of yet another deep, Atlantic low (think this one might be called Darcy don’t you know) which will push some heavy rain into the south west of Ireland and Wales, this might fall as a wintry shower mix as it hits the colder air. Sunday morning in particular looks like depositing some pretty heavy rain, sleet, snow (delete where applicable) onto already saturated ground across Ireland, Wales and the southern half of the U.K, but this will quickly dissipate as we go through Sunday pushing eastwards through the morning. By dusk the wintry shower / rain mix will have cleared Ireland and be firmly ensconced across the western coastline of the U.K, but they’ll be plenty of showers inland across central and southern areas and these will extend into the north and Scottish Borders as we go through Sunday evening. Remaining mild across Ireland at 8°C, but cold and bitter across the U.K, with 3-5°C, hence the higher risk of wintry showers. A dull, cold day.

Weather Outlook

So we look to start next week with Storm Darcy (can’t take that name seriously) in situ as we see above from the GFS output. No sooner has this system sloped off eastwards during the course of Monday than we have another low pressure system slinking in across the south of England. At present this looks to be quite a southerly-biased system which means firstly it’ll affect the southern half of Ireland / U.K and secondly it’s trailing northern edge will pull in easterlies from the continent which may mean more snow in my books.  This pattern is repeated through till the end of the week with another southerly low. So the theme of next week is I think easterlies and they’ll be chilly at that. Milder by the weekend but I don’t think that’ll be long lasting because the pressure is still for a low-situated jet stream and that means more cold temperature incursions in my book. So to summarise, unsettled from the start of the week and windy with plenty of wintry showers across all areas. As we go through the week, less in the way of showers across the north but a succession of southerly low pressure systems will pull in easterly wind into the southern half of the U.K and Ireland and these may bring further snowfall. Don’t see much change out of 3-5°C and nor does Meteoblue.

Agronomic Notes

Well a somewhat short set of agronomic notes today but hopefully interesting. You know sometimes it’s tricky writing about turf when its under snow, it isn’t growing, you aren’t cutting and if there’s any disease you probably can’t see it currently 🙂 (Mark Hunt’s list of excuses – book number 10)

Winter 2020 / 2021 applications

It is an interesting one this winter you know because for what seems like a long time we are getting quite a run of pretty cold weather. A bit like winters used to be in the old days, except now we pick up some very mild interludes for a few days before dipping back again. Remembering that this cooler spell started around Christmas Day, that’s a month now and I thought it would be good to look at where we are growth-wise starting from Dec 1st, 2020 and extrapolating right through to the end of the current month. I picked 5 locations where I can access weather data – Great Dunmow, Essex, Blessington, Johnstown Castle (Ireland) and Harlech (North Wales). Now I know there’s lots of other places but currently that’s what I’ve had time to do and I think they do encompass a good range of different geographical situations. So bear with me on that one eh ?

 

I think the data is quite thought-provoking….

Firstly, if we look at cumulative G.P, the highest total since Dec 1st and keying in projected temperatures for the rest of this month (for all locations) is Harlech in beautiful North Wales. This is courtesy of an extended mild (and very wet spell) during December. The two southern U.K locations in the east (Dunmow) and central / west (Thame) have very similar cumulative growth values (5.25 vs. 5.82 respectively) so I think we can assume that the temperature profile across the southern half of the U.K has been reasonably consistent. Nipping across The Irish Sea into the hilly lands of Blessington, we can see not surprisingly the lowest figure of all 5 locations. Now going on Irish / U.K data from other locations, I’d expected Johnstown Castle (Co. Wexford) to be pretty similar to the central England locations and it is. In addition I think the the west / south west of Ireland locations will be pretty similar to Harlech. We will see when we get to the end of the month. Apologies Scotland I just don’t have data I can easily translate into a G.P profile 🙁

Fungicide longevity…

If I applied a fungicide at the beginning of December 2020 and working on a cumulative G.P of 10 for fungicide application longevity, I’d be pretty comfortable that it is still providing protection looking at the data from the two central England sites and Wexford. Looking at the Welsh data and potentially extrapolating that for the south west of Ireland, I’d think you’re heading towards the end of the longevity but this is entirely dependent on the fungicide applied. So if a protectant was applied, I’d expect this to be gone by now, if a systemic tankmix was applied, then it should be still providing some longevity but it’ll be close to the end of it. If you managed to get a spray window leading up to Christmas, then I think all areas would be comfortably protected because even for the Harlech location, we have only added on something like a total of 4.0 G.P since then. For the southern U.K locations this is closer to 3.0, so well within the capacity of a fungicide to provide cover. Now you can argue there are other variables apart from just growth that determine fungicide longevity, their persistence in terms of binding to organic matter for one but for me looking at the products we have available currently I’m happy working on the cumulative value of 10.0.

The same goes incidentally for non-pesticidal applications, if you were able to get one down before Christmas I’d be happy it is still providing good results now because we have had very little growth since then as you can see from the daily G.P profiles from each location.

What’s coming…

Now the above is probably a good thing because we will experience a rapid thaw this week as you can see from the temperature data for Central England below. We are also due plenty of rain / sleet (delete where applicable) from mid-week onwards through to the other side of the weekend. In other words applying a liquid this week will be very hit and miss and without a sticker, probably a waste of time. So we could see some fresh Microdochium activity for a while this week but it is important to note that with wind and rain forecast this is less likely to lead to strong mycelium growth and the mild temperature increase will be pretty short-lived. It’s just sometimes coming out of frost can be troublesome.

Granular fertiliser vs. liquid fertiliser

At this time of year I’m very much in the former (granular) camp but you have to remember that with growth levels so low your longevity will be much better than a ‘normal winter’. As an example, I made an application of a 5-2-10 organic-mineral analysis back on Dec 8th and a tissue analysis last week still shows very good levels of macro, secondary and micronutrient in the leaf. Granular applications in the winter are much more persistent and just to give some more detail, the above example was on a low CEC rootzone, free-draining so probably a worst case scenario. It also had +100mm of rainfall during this period !

The reason why I think they are very useful at this time of year is that they will prime the plant so its ready to put on growth whenever conditions are favourable (during those mild peaks for example) and instead of having to get the sprayer out to chase a spray window, they’ll keep ticking away, providing recovery from disease scarring and maybe some early lockdown aeration. They are more persistent to leaching as well because lets face it we aren’t getting many opportunities to apply liquid products of any description at the moment when we look at saturated ground conditions and speculative weather windows. The upshot is that you come into the spring having maximised any early growth potential which means less pressure to push growth when maybe you won’t want to and / or conditions may not be conducive for growth.

Food for thought maybe ?

OK, my Rundstykker and good coffee lunch awaits…

All the best for the coming week, stay safe and healthy.

Mark Hunt