May 24th

Hi All,

Aside from the beautiful Hawthorn blossom in this picture, it could easily have been taken in November with temperatures to match the conditions I can tell you. April was colder than February, May will be wetter than January for some, this year is truly a wrong-way-round sort of year. Personally aside from the heavy rain, I like sunshine and showers weather and especially this month because everything looks so vibrant, you can almost hear the Keck (Cow Parsley) growing in the verges and wild flowers are really enjoying it with swathes of Campion and Bluebells. It is good growing weather. On a totally selfish note, it is also great for insects and fly fishing so I’m not really looking forward to lots of heat and sun splitting the pavements sort of weather that we will inevitably get at some point. I know I am in the minority there. Talking of heat, yep we have some better temperatures on the way as predicted 7 days ago, just in time for the Bank holiday 🙂

Adam sent me in some of these whacky cloud pictures from deepest, darkest Dorset. (cheers matey)

It had me scrambling for my cloud type chart and apparently they’re called Mammatus Clouds. They are usually the sign of a nearby storm and are often formed on the underside of Thunder and Anvil Clouds. Apparently they are composed of ice droplets and so often accompany hail storms. Speaking of which we have just had a big hail storm here accompanied by a significant drop in temperature, whacky.

General Weather Situation

So the image above is pretty much what was predicted 7 days ago and that low pressure is still in charge over the U.K and Ireland. The good news is that it will move away this week and be replaced by some high pressure warm air plumes from The Azores.

So on Monday we see a continuation of the wet weather we have been experiencing for awhile now with rain pushing up from the south west and Wales across England and Wales with a separate block of rain across Scotland. Ireland will see sunshine and showers as well but will miss the majority of the rain. Through the morning these rain showers will consolidate into a heavier front pushing north and east over an area south of The Pennines whilst Scotland from The Border north will also see plenty of rain. As we approach the evening we will see some sunnier interludes but these will mainly be isolated to the north of England and the west of the U.K, as that rain clears East. Ireland will have a drier day but with thick cloud pushing over, it’ll also be a dull one. Temperature-wise, expect 11-13°C as a norm with a moderate south westerly / westerly wind in situ.

Tuesday sees that low pressure move east so this time we start with rain over the northern half of the U.K and north east Scotland. Through the morning we see rain also push into the south west of Ireland and move eastwards affecting Co. Cork and Co. Wexford but not much further north. Across The Irish Sea those showers and longer spells of rain are bubbling up and this time they are likely to affect the east and north east coast extending from East Anglia right up to Scotland. So we have some drier weather in-between this rain but during the afternoon expect more showers and longer spells of rain across Wales and the southern half of the U.K. The rain across the south of Ireland will push into The South West during the afternoon to bring a wet 2nd part of the day here. It’ll be pretty breezy with a strong to moderate westerly / south westerly wind across the southern half of the U.K, but vectoring north across Scotland. It’ll feel a little milder with 13-15°C likely.

Onto mid-week and that low pressure is now across The North Sea and sitting over Denmark but it’ll still be dragging down moisture on its trailing edge, so expect rain across Kerry first off and then a line of rain showers stretching from the west of Scotland all the way down the eastern coast to The Humber. Away from this rain, Wednesday should be a better day for the southern half of the U.K and Wales with that rain across Ireland fizzling out through the morning so a drier day for many away from that eastern band. Similar temperatures to Tuesday with a moderate westerly wind still present.

By Thursday we have high pressure beginning to build between the departing low pressure east of us and a new low pressure pushing in from The Atlantic. It won’t keep the weather picture completely dry because Ireland will see some rain across the south west and west pushing in during the morning but it’s progress will be halted here so further south and north of this should stay dry if a little dull. Across The Irish Sea Thursday promises to be a much nicer day with lighter winds, building temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Expect temperatures up into the high teens for all of the U.K, with Ireland in the mid-teens. During Thursday evening that rain now begins to make progress eastwards across The Irish Sea

Friday sees that high pressure continue to assert itself but it isn’t a completely dry picture as that rain front from the west pushes over The Irish Sea into the western seaboard of the U.K by dawn bringing showers all the way from Devon / Cornwall, up through Wales, The North West and western half of Scotland. These showers will consolidate through the day but mainly across the western half of the U.K, with some straying further east. Ireland will start wet but that rain will soon clear most of the country returning in the afternoon to the north and north west in the main with the southern half of the country staying mainly dry. Similar temperatures to Thursday up in the high teens with light winds and some warmth. There now.

So what’s the outlook for the Bank holiday weekend over here ?

Well Saturday looks mixed with plenty of cloud cover for the west and showers of rain across The Borders and northern England extending south on occasion. Definitely a west-east divide when it comes to duller conditions and more cloud across Ireland and the western half of the U.K. So Saturday a bit mixed, sunshine and showers type of weather but noticeably warmer, especially across the south of England with temperatures in the low twenties. I say again, the low twenties !. Sunday looks much better, again more in the way of cloud for the west but this will retreat through the second half of the day whilst Ireland still stays under a thicker cloud base I am afraid but still with temperatures in the high teens. By Monday the picture looks even better with lots of sunshine for most of the U.K & Ireland, maybe the north east of Scotland retaining some of that thicker cloud but overall a nice day with plenty of sunshine and just the odd shower. Temperature remaining in the high teens to low twenties dependent on where you are and cloud cover like.

Weather Outlook

So finally some drier and warmer weather for you sun lovers….I wonder how long it’ll last ?

Well the GFS output above clearly shows the plume of warm air that’ll have Daily Express journalists eagerly sprinting for some scarily inaccurate headline like “30 days of record temperatures on the way” (of course they won’t say which type of record temperatures) or maybe “Ice cream seen melting in London, Dominic Cummins warned Boris Johnson of this”…..I digress and could easily substitute some very politically incorrect versions but that’ll be for my last blog 🙂

So next week looks like that high pressure will hang around most of the week but it won’t be universally nice across all of the U.K & Ireland, I mean that would be too straight forward. The projections show a Bay of Biscay low pressure system building and then moving northwards through the second half of next week so I think Monday to Wednesday will be largely settled save for some showers pushing into The South West and south / south west of Ireland on Wednesday. As we approach Thursday I think we could see a thundery breakdown with a band of rain / Thunderstorms pushing up from the south of England and working their way north accompanied by heavier rain on Friday. This could lead to a pretty wet weekend I think for the southern half of the U.K and Ireland so enjoy this Bank Holiday ! Warmer though with temperatures staying in the high teens so at least that bit seems to be working to plan. I always say it takes until the end of May for night temperatures to stabilise and it does every year.

Agronomic Notes

Projected G.P till end of month – Great Dunmow, Essex, U.K

Growth Flush Expectations 

Above is the measured G.P up until today and the projected daily G.P till the end of the month. You can quite clearly see the effect of that warmer temperature from mid-week onwards pushing up the G.P towards the 70-80% sort of mark. In other words with plenty of soil moisture and now heat at the end of the week we can expect outfield areas to jump with a capital ‘J’ and green speeds to drop with a capital ‘F’ 🙂 (I’m a flippant one today you know)

So judicious time I’d say for a PGR application to hold areas back.

Looking across The Irish Sea I was expecting the G.P trend to be lower but actually it is very similar and that’s because with more cloud cover, Ireland keeps better night temperatures so although the daily max isn’t the same, the actual G.P hike / flush is projected to be similar. Here’s how the Meteoturf schematic looks like for West Dublin…

So again you can see the daily G.P is up towards 0.8 by the weekend and with a dump of rain expected across the south of Ireland on Friday that will make life tricky for a spray window, maybe Wednesday looks best away from the west / south west of Ireland ?

In the interests of impartiality, here’s how it looks for Scotland and Wales, not wishing to alienate any Celts 🙂

If anything the growth flush is even stronger across Wales because they pick up better night temperatures (more cloud cover) and the good day temperatures.

Not quite as pronounced or extended for Scotland but still significant and in some quarters I think it’ll be welcomed.

Disease Pressure

It seems a bit daft to still be talking about disease pressure heading towards June but every year we get a point where we have a sudden increase in temperature and Microdochium nivale, Red Thread and the like just go bang !

Well this weekend is likely to be that point in the year because it’s been bubbling away all May with the wetter weather and high humidity and now when temperatures rise quickly I’d expect to see plenty of Microdochium nivale like we can see in the image above. Copper blotch syndrome in other words.

With very wet soils we have seen plenty of Guttation Fluid of late. This is when water is pushed out of the tip of the plant through small pores called hydathodes. It isn’t just water, it contains nutrients and sugars and so forms an ideal nutrient pack of fungal species that form on the leaf including Microdochium nivale but also Dollar Spot, Red Thread and Pink Patch. You can clearly see the large drops of Guttation fluid sitting on the tips of the grass leaf in this image and mycelium growing between them. As early as 1968, you’ll find references to Guttation Fluid and disease encouragement in the case of Dollar Spot. Thanks for the fantastic picture xxxx 🙂

Looking at May, it’s been a hard month for Microdochium nivale with last week showing significant disease activity all through the week.

This week as intimated earlier it’ll keep bubbling away before peaking at the weekend as the warm temperatures accelerate fungal growth.

The disease prediction graphs above for Kanturk and Thame tell the story of the month of May with lots of disease pressure through the third week particularly, dropping away thereafter as the high winds and rain came through over the weekend and then picking up this week as the warmer temperatures push in at the end of this week and over the Bank holiday long weekend.

Aside from Microdochium, there’s likely to be plenty of Red Thread around and for you ryegrass types, some leaf spot as well I’d think. Now of course we will have plenty of growth so hopefully any negatives will be short-lived as the Microdochium does its thing but it will require some management even if it is the addition of a winter hardening spray into what would normally be the start of a summer nutrition program.

What a mixed up year we are having in more ways than one !

Leatherjackets and the like….

Lots of social media postings on this subject with the outcome of sheeting highlighting some really massive infestations. It remains one of our industries biggest challenges and transitions across golf, winter sports , race courses and lawncare in terms of severity and implications. With the loss of Chlorpyrifos, a good few years ago now, populations have increased significantly and it remains a clear challenge in terms of control options, efficacy and timing of application. I wonder if the later advent of issues this year is partly down to the cold April we endured, with a lack of grub activity and also grass growth ? That meant apparent turf damage was delayed until the grass began to grow and the effects of damage to the root system became more apparent. Either way it is a significant problem and one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Of course Defra are now in control of products and control options so ultimately that’s where we as an industry need to be addressing our concerns. I do worry about this from a future industry viability perspective and the lack of a consolidated message.

OK that’s me for this week, have a good Bank holiday for those of you enjoying one this coming weekend 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt