I think this picture looking across the South Arm at Rutland Water kind of sums up the weather at the moment, plenty of moisture in the atmosphere, some lovely cloud formations and of course, plenty of rain. Knowing the mechanics of this profession by now it won’t be long before we are looking at pictures like this with envy as the heat arrives, surfaces dry out and we need rain. Such is the nature of our industry.
Big congratulations to Angus and his team at The Belfry for pulling off a class event in May in the U.K, after one of the most difficult spring’s on record from a growth perspective. If you speak to Angus he will tell you that most of the fundamental work was done (and you may need an interpreter for that bit as he has one of the trickiest Scottish accents I’ve encountered 🙂 )over the winter. Times are changing for our profession and as I’ve intimated a number of times, the calendar is pretty much meaningless now for us. Look at it currently, extremely wet, lots of disease, worm cast and insect pressure, oh and it’s May !!
General Weather Situation
So I know this blog won’t be going out till later today as I have some Teams meetings I can’t avoid (ho hum) and will therefore start my forecast day on Tuesday. Now the GFS output above tells most of the story I think with cool air sitting over us and entering stage left, another Atlantic low pressure system…..zzzzzz…. Cool and unsettled then with a wetter and windier end to the week appears to be on the cards. So Tuesday sees a reasonably dry start to the day with some sunny intervals across the east of the country. It won’t be long however before showers bubble up across the U.K & Ireland affecting most areas. As we progress through to the afternoon these appear heaviest across the eastern half of Ireland, the western half of the U.K, but also the east and north east of Scotland. Remaining on the chilly side for May with low teens the order of the day and a north west wind in situ.
Overnight into Wednesday and we see a rerun of Tuesday’s weather, that is to say a quiet, dry and sunny start in the morning with a few localised showers across western coasts of Ireland and the U.K and then by midday, lots of showers bubbling up. This time I think the southern half of Ireland will miss the worst of them, same for the western half of the U.K, with the showers and long spells of rain becoming confined to the eastern coastline of the U.K and northern region of Ireland. A little warmer on Wednesday with westerly winds in charge so expect temperatures to push up to mid-teens.
Thursday sees that Atlantic low pushing into Ireland in time for the Achill Island rush hour. 🙂 So strong south westerly winds and rain initially for the south and south west of Ireland. By lunchtime that low is pushing east across The Irish Sea into the south west of England and Wales and it’ll be across all of Ireland. Now it looks to stay really on the western coast of England and Wales through Thursday and doesn’t track much further east initially so away from this low pressure system, not a bad day really with a moderate westerly wind and mid-teen temperatures. By dusk though, that low pressure is making progress eastwards and is into the western half of the U.K, from Cornwall and Devon all the way up to the west of Scotland clearing Ireland as it does so. By midnight it is projected to cover all of the U.K with some strong south westerly winds across Ireland and the west. Low teen temperatures away from the rain and barely breaking double figures under it.
The GFS output above for this coming Friday tells its own story with the centre of the low pressure over Ireland pushing in strong south westerly winds, cool air and lots of rain I’m afraid. So Friday starts with the overnight rain front across the east of the U.K, showers in-between and a new rain front pushing into the western half of Ireland. As we go through the day, we lose the rain from the east and we will see sunny intervals and showers for England, Wales and Scotland, whilst Ireland sits under a lot of rain. This soon crosses The Irish Sea and pushes into West Wales and then moves swiftly eastwards with rain reaching most places during Friday afternoon. So a pretty wet day all round on Friday with strong south westerly winds and low to mid-teen temperatures as mild air pushes up. And that’s the way Friday signs out, wet for most areas clearing at dusk.
No surprise then that the outlook for the weekend is very unsettled with strong winds across the U.K & Ireland and lots of rain. Saturday starts showery but by the afternoon it’s pretty much wet everywhere I’m afraid. Cooler as the trailing edge of the low pressure system pulls down northerly winds as it moves eastwards. Sunday looks drier for Ireland but cooler and with plenty of showers for the U.K and temperatures just in the low double figures. In a word…Dreich (I’ve been spending too long talking with my Scottish contingent!)
So earlier in this blog I hinted that we may have a change on the cards and it’s been showing on the outlier GFS output for a few days now which kind of increases my confidence that it may happen. Just take a moment and compare the GFS output for next Monday above with the GFS output for this Friday. Note the position of the low pressure system in next Monday’s output, it’s much higher from a latitude perspective which means the jet stream is lifting northwards and that then means we are less likely to see low pressure systems affect all of the U.K (they tend to be more northerly-orientated) So this is the subtle change in my mind that may mean next week sees high pressure build from the south and that’ll introduce some heat into the equation and also it’ll block Atlantic low pressure systems as well so we will dry out. The very good news for Ireland is that the centre of the high pressure is just off the Kerry coast so you may see some very nice temperatures towards the end of next week across the west of Ireland. Now of course this may change but I think the signal is solid.
The only fly in the ointment is a low pressure system sitting over Denmark which may mean the east of the U.K doesn’t get the benefit from this and will see more in the way of cloud and duller conditions with a northerly wind direction. It’s too early to say how the two systems will end up orientated but there’s a risk that the east and south eastern side of the U.K may pick up some rain from the continent at the end of next week / weekend and be cooler.
So you can see the story of this spring on the cumulative GDD chart above for our Great Dunmow weather station location. A stop-start growth spring with one of the best periods of growth occurring in February and late March before flattening off during April in what we know was not just a temperature-limited month but also a moisture-limited one as well. All that is long forgotten now as the rain and temperature arrived 10 days or so ago and growth has picked up with a vengeance.
Lots of seedhead now from the end of the annual biotype seedhead period and the beginning of the perennial biotype seedhead flush. One thing that occurs to me is that with the perennial biotype seedhead flush starting later this year and with growth conditions currently reasonably good then I wonder if we will see a stronger, more pronounced seedhead flush that is over earlier, particularly when we factor in the potential of some better air temperatures next week because it’s still parky like on some days. I fly fished on Saturday and at times I was shivering in the boat….caught well though on dry flies despite the rain 🙂
Weeds – there’s plenty around you know !
Took this picture of a pasture field on the Rutland peninsular yesterday and I think it tells its own story about weed growth. From having nothing a few weeks back to now where we have plenty of weeds present. Now then, this week may be a bit tricky if you’re considering spraying them off but next week should yield some nice spray windows to maybe get a combination spray of PGR + herbicide on outfield turf with a smidge of tankmix-compatible iron to keep things looking pretty ?
I’ve seen a lot of comment on social media regarding disease activity and as in a way it makes me happy because our disease prediction algorithm (I call it Paul, but I have had it suggested that it should be called Fuzzy McFuzface 🙂 ) was spot on not only for U.K locations, but also over in Ireland. Now with a continuation of the unsettled conditions this week we can expect more of the same though once that low pressure system arrives in the second half of this week, the high wind speed will negate disease formation. The only benefit of this type of disease pressure in May is that with reasonably good growth conditions, you should be growing it out as fast as it appears, unless of course you’ve buttoned down areas with a PGR beforehand. It’s a tricky balancing act for sure but I think once we lose this next low pressure things should stabilise a bit from this perspective, which is a good job as we are heading towards June 2021 and the disease activity period started in earnest in late October 2020 and to be honest I’d like to write about something else please 🙂 !
For the same location as above, here’s the disease pressure this week and you can see it’s all front end loaded time-wise and once we are past Wednesday, the pressure drops off as the winds pick up.
If you have a facility that has experienced Take All activity of late and you are planning on applying a preventative like Azoxystrobin, then the cool, wet period that has been May 2021 so far is perfect for activity of the pathogen. As we know, activity doesn’t equal symptom expression with this disease and we won’t see signs of its presence until the plant goes under moisture stress and cannot uptake sufficient through its damaged root system (often it appears mid-June onwards when we get those blowy hot days and the E.T is the wrong side of 4 mm per day). I’ve seen more of this disease of late and I put that down to firstly some wetter summers encouraging late activity into September / October and also of course more bentgrass content on greens as overseeding pays off. It’s probably also an issue because some of the chemicals we once had worked well against Take All and with less and less available, it has begun to re-establish again. I remember a time (and I’m not showing my age) when there was no cure for Take All aside from applying sulphur or other acidifying materials to the green. Then Azoxystrobin turned up and it disappeared. It’s making a come-back now though. If you are planning on applying a preventative, then an application now and again in six weeks not only works for Take All but could also hold back early Anthracnose if the pathogen isn’t already resistant to this chemical family, (remembering that once it is resistant to one Strobilurin, it’s resistant to all of them 🙁 ) after all it’s been around for a long time now.
OK that’s me for this week, all the best.