Hi All,

Depending on your perspective, the weather of late has been nothing short of beautiful with some lovely warm sunshine. Of course on the other side of the fence it means lots of growth, trying to play irrigation catch up with 5 mm + E.T days (for some) and a bit of disease floating around with some sites reporting their first Dollar Spot. I love this time of year even if it makes my fly fishing an evening-only affair. Lots of activity on the nature front as well with plenty of Butterflies making an appearance and birds raising their young. On Saturday whilst fishing I watched a Hobby (Falcon) hunting Dragonflies and Damsels over Thornton water. What an aviator this bird is, the ‘Spitfire’ of the Raptor species, fast, agile, beautiful to behold and of course deadly.

Speaking of birds of prey, I got sent this cracking photo over the weekend from Sean at The Oxfordshire, a long standing contributor to the weather data I use on this blog.

The local WildlifeTrust were doing a Raptor survey (and ringing chicks) to understand local populations. This bundle of fluff is of course a young Barn Owl.

For those of you who don’t know about Sean’s work at The Oxfordshire, he’s done no end to encourage the Raptor population on site and particularly Owls. One species that is struggling is the one pictured, The Barn Owl, with a widespread decline in their numbers clearly evident. Those with long memories may remember when The Oxfordshire was built back in the early 90’s, it was widely lambasted as an American monstrosity with huge amounts of earth moving, a far cry away from natural healthland or links golf. Well time is a great healer and this site is now home to a huge number of breeding birds (about 5x more than you’ll find over the hedgerow on agricultural land), one of the largest populations for Marbled White Butterflies and other Butterfly species abound. This is one part of our story I don’t believe gets told enough. There is still a large contingent of the population that thinks a golf course is a manicured area with huge amounts of fertiliser, water and pesticide applied, despite our best efforts. Maybe you’re already doing your bit to help nature and in particular Owls, but your local Wildlife Trust is a good first stop to discuss sighting an Owl box or doing a bird survey for your site.

In reality on this site for example, only 1.05% is intensively managed (greens), they apply less nitrogen and fungicide applications than 10 years ago and are a home for more bird and insect species than most so called ‘wild’ habitats.  It’s the untold part of the golf story that we have to work hard to communicate to the powers that be. In the meantime, top job Sean !

General Weather Situation

So Monday carries on that run of beautiful weather with temperatures in some areas not dipping below 17°C at night ! A bit of rain around for north west and western Scotland this morning and that will move eastwards into Central Scotland during the morning. Some rain also across the north of Ireland, a tight band again moving eastwards. So this rain will be a feature of Monday for the west of Scotland in particular but further south across Ireland, England and Wales, it’ll be another warm day with plenty of sunshine. Now we have some cooler air across Scotland with only mid-teen temperatures likely but further south the heat is building towards the high twenties again accompanied by light westerly winds veering northward as the day goes on. Ireland looks to have a pleasant day with sunshine and clouds and temperatures in the high teens.

Overnight into Tuesday and that rain across the west of Scotland fizzles out to leave a clear start to the day but out in The Atlantic a weather front is heading eastwards and this is expected to make landfall across the north west of Ireland around lunchtime on Tuesday.This band of rain will push eastwards slowly into the west of Ireland and Scotland through the course of Tuesday afternoon / evening. Further south it’ll be another repeat of a fine weather day with lots of sunshine, some cloud cover and temperatures down in the low to mid twenties with light winds.

Overnight into Wednesday that rain front makes slow progress across Ireland so by dawn you’ll have showers in the east. The northern end of that rain front will be across south west Scotland and edging southwards into The Lakes. Those showers across Ireland will fizzle out through the morning to leave a mainly dry and pleasant enough day with thicker cloud cover courtesy of that low pressure and high teen temperatures. The same for Scotland, early rain across the west / south west giving way to thicker cloud, a bit of sunshine and high teen temperatures. For England and Wales, the last day of heat before an anticipated thundery breakdown with temperatures climbing towards the mid to high twenties on Wednesday. Overnight into Thursday we are anticipated to pick up some thunderstorms and heavy rain as a front edges into The South West and pushes north and east.

So Thursday early morning looks like starting off thundery for England and Wales with rain edging up from the south and pushing across the southern half of the country during the day. Just in time for the start of my week off in Wells next the Sea 🙁 Ireland looks to have a dull one on Thursday with some of that rain edging along the east coast through Wexford and Leinster. So wet for Wales and England on Thursday, dull but mainly dry after overnight rain in the east for Ireland and dry and sunny for Scotland with high teen temperatures likely. Much cooler under that cloud and rain on Thursday. That band of rain looks to clear from the south and west through Thursday leaving a dull but drier second half of the day for England and Wales. So the eastern half of the U.K looks to have  a wet second half of the day on Thursday with the rain slow to clear eastern coasts. Cooler on with some strengthening north westerly winds for a time as that low pressure moves through with 17-19 °C likely.

Closing off the week on Friday and we have a Bay of Biscay low pressure coming into play. Sneaky ones these it reminds me of a line from a recent Sherlock Holmes film when Holmes was describing his fear of horses…”They are dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle” 🙂 Well I’d describe Bay of Biscay low pressures as sneaky, crafty and unpredictable in their nature. This one on Friday is predicted to push into the south east during Friday morning and affect The South East and East Anglia (ho hum). There may well be some heavy downpours associated with this weather for the east and south east with showers reaching further west and north into The Midlands later in the day. For Wales maybe a touch of rain across the border areas with England, but largely a dull and dry day for Wales, Scotland and Ireland with mid to high teen temperatures likely. Much cooler on Friday with an easterly wind for England and Wales (this is just getting better by the moment for my hols !)

So the weekend looks ‘mixed’ with a largely dry but dull day for all on Saturday before rain moves into the west of Ireland and south of England later on Saturday and pushes eastwards across Ireland and northwards across the south of England and Midlands overnight into Sunday. Sunday sees that rain and thick cloud moving northwards across all areas so dull, cool and unsettled for the second half of the weekend clearing from the south later so maybe I’ll see a bit of sunshine across Wells in time for my run to the chippy !

Weather Outlook

OK, so after a thundery breakdown and a cooler end to the week / weekend, crucially what does my holiday week hold weather-wise ????? 🙂

Well as you can see from the projected GFS output, the weather is finely-balanced with one low departing off into The North Sea and another lurking off the Irish coast. The latter has pushed the cooler temperatures further south , the question is if that’s a temporary scenario or a more permanent one weather-wise ?

Now I know from looking at the GFS output since late last week that its been changing from the low pushing in to today’s outlook where continental high pressure rules the roost. So again not a great amount of certainty with next weeks forecast. Looking at the ECMWF forecast for next week they have the cool and unsettled weather continuing whereas GFS show a ridge of high pressure building from the continent to give a fine and dry week before a breakdown at the end of the week from the south of the U.K and Ireland with rain pushing up during Saturday on an easterly wind. Obviously I’m biased because I’d like a nice week off weather-wise to go Mullet and Bass hunting with a fly rod across the creeks and estuaries so I’m going to go with the GFS version although I feel that it’s still likely to change as we go through this week !

Agronomic Notes

Growth patterns…

Growth Potential and Rainfall – Great Dunmow, U.K

I think the graph above tells its own story with lots of rainfall during May and low growth potential (for May anyway) before picking up markedly at the end of May and into June since when its been at or nearly at optimum Growth Potential. This particular site had a downpour on the 5th of June which put nearly 18 mm in the rain gauge and everything grass-wise into flat out growth mode. Interestingly that rain seemed to kick in another flush of seedheads as the Poa annua sparked back into life but since then they have declined markedly and the sward has started fining down as Poa annua begins to tiller again. 10 days ago the sward was white with seedheads, now it’s looking a natural green and uniform colour. This change also coincided with applying a light foliar fertiliser with biostimulant and I think that has put the Poa and Bentgrass back in their comfort zones. I know from experience that Poa annua will extend its seedhead production period if it’s run low on N.

Cumulative GDD – Jan 1st – June 14th, 2021 – Great Dunmow, U.K

With the run of high daily GDD since the end of May (this site is averaging 11 GDD per day calculated with a 6°C base temperature or 18-20 calculated with a 0°C base ), one unexpected benefit is that the Poa seedhead flush will be over a little bit quicker this year I think.

On this site, the annual Poa biotype began seeding in earnest during the 3rd week of April, at 120GDD,  it was joined by its perennial biotype at the end of the 1st week of May (160 GDD) and I’d say it’s definitely on the wane a month later at 400GDD. so that’ll be about 240GDD for the main perennial seedhead flush over a period of 31 days. Normally I’d expect 6 weeks minimum so maybe the accelerated growth rate has pushed things on a bit ?

I fully appreciate this is one location in the east of England but I think from the end of May onwards the level of growth has been significant in Wales, Ireland and Scotland so in this case my comments may extend further than this one location.

Disease Activity

Had a few reports of Dollar Spot last week which is both a little early and surprising because in most instances The Smith Kern’s model isn’t up to the usual 50-60% prediction level when I’m normally expect to see activity. Looking at the daily humidity level it has been quite low because of the heat and wind however when you chart out the humidity and temperature for June, you do see some high night temperatures and humidities over the last fortnight or so….

Smith Kerns Model output – Great Dunmow location


Air temperature vs. humidity – Great Dunmow location

I think it’ll be interesting when we move towards the end of the week and we pick up cooler temperatures, rainfall and of course high humidity to see what shakes out disease-wise. I’m expecting to see plenty of Microdochium mycelium, maybe some Dollar Spot and definitely both Red Thread and Leaf Spot so be on your guard. Of course with a slight reduction in growth rate with the anticipated lower temperatures, it may mean this is a bit more damaging than of late unfortunately.

From the Dollar Spot perspective I think the Smith Kerns will take quite a hike as well so it’ll be interesting to look back at how it played out when I sit down and do my next blog at the end of June as I’ll be taking a break from it next week for my well-deserved hols 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt