Category Archives: Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog

May 20th

Hi All,

After rain and then some decent temperatures over the last couple of weeks, everything is growing at a rate of knots. The edges of fields that I walked through 2 weeks ago are now knee-high in grass with Cow Parsley (we call it Keck here), Pink,Red Campion, Vetch, Nettles and Cleavers shooting up from the verges.

May is definitely a growing month and I absolutely love the freshness of the countryside at this time of year. Some of you may already be looking ahead to the May Bank Holiday and wondering what that’ll bring weather-wise, well it is finely balanced, more on that later….

Image courtesy of https://johnmcphee.co.uk/photos/

Before I go onto my weather blog, big shout out to Scotland’s John McPhee for winning only his second Moto3 GP yesterday at Le Mans, cracking to watch…..well ridden John….

Tempus fugit this week so it’s onto the weather without further ado

General Weather Situation

Not a bad day to start the week with as Monday dawns with hazy sunshine and some cloud cover from the off after a mild (ish) night. Following a similar pattern to yesterday the morning looks dry but as we head to the afternoon, the combination of warm temperatures and humid air will kick off some sharp convection showers anywhere from the south east coast of England up through eastern counties and following a line along the M11  (not for the first time eh?). At the same time we will also see some more consolidated rain push into the south coast of England and the north-east of Ireland. Expect some showers as well across The Highlands of Scotland during the afternoon, some of these showers will be sharp. Ireland looks to have a dry day before some showers may bubble up across east Leinster later in the afternoon. Generally more cloud across Ireland so a little cooler. As we go through the evening those showers will rumble on and across Scotland those showers will form a more concentrated band of rain across The Highlands and north-east Scotland with some heavy rain to end the day here. A lovely day really for most with light to moderate north-westerly winds and temperatures between 15-18°C depending on cloud cover.

Tuesday sees that rain over the north-east of Scotland largely fizzled out but it won’t be going away entirely. Elsewhere another nice start to the day with hazy sunshine and light winds and climbing temperatures. That rain over north-east Scotland looks to drift south into central Scotland through the morning. Elsewhere dry with hazy sunshine and pleasant temperatures with perhaps more in the way of sunshine, especially for the west and no repeat of those sharp showers. A light to moderate north-westerly wind for the U.K (southerly for Ireland I think) and temperatures up in their high teens for everyone except Central Scotland.

Wednesday sees the U.K and Ireland under the influence of high pressure but sandwiched between two low pressure systems, one inbound from The Atlantic, one over the continent. It is this weather dynamic that is shaping the end of week / Bank Holiday weather and I think it will be very unpredictable to say the least. For the time being though Wednesday looks like serving out another largely dry day with plenty of sunshine and climbing temperatures, in the high teens for most and nudging 20°C across the south of England. Winds will be north-westerly / westerly and light to moderate.

Overnight into Thursday and we see a weather front from that Atlantic low push into the west of Ireland and move eastwards so by dawn it’ll be straddled across the country. Further east for the U.K we look to have another lovely start to the day with bright sunshine and warm temperatures. During the late morning cloud will build from the north and west and we will see the first rain across West Wales during the early afternoon. This will be joined by outbreaks of showers across the west / north-west coastline of the U.K. Ireland looks to stay unsettled and wet throughout the day. Quite a temperature contrast then with Ireland in the mid-teens and the U.K in the high teens / low twenties. The wind will swing westerly through the morning and begin to freshen through the afternoon.

Closing out the week on Friday and those showers over Ireland remain, maybe more westerly in orientation on Friday compared to Thursday. Those showers over the western coastline of the U.K have consolidated overnight into heavier spells of rainfall and these will move inland across Wales, North England, The Midlands and the south of England during the morning. Scotland and The Borders looks to have a lower risk of these showers and should have a pleasantly warm, if a little dull sort of day. By lunchtime the whole of the U.K looks pretty wet and for Ireland the rain will have cleared western coasts but not for long as another front is incoming. During the 2nd half of the day that rain spreads north into southern Scotland and consolidates. As we go through Friday evening that rain will move eastwards clearing Ireland from the west. Cooler on Friday with that thicker cloud cover and rain so down to the mid-teens I am afraid.

Now onto the Bank Holiday weekend and this one is a real tricky call because the outlook keeps changing from a GFS forecast point of view swinging wildly from washout to not so bad….

So my take looking at the current GFS output is this…..

Saturday will see probably the nicest day for everyone as high pressure pushes into the southern half of the U.K and Ireland, however the north / Scotland will be closest to the Atlantic low pressure system so as we go through the latter part of Saturday, a north-south divide will occur. Through the course of Saturday / Sunday the low pressure will re-establish its influence moving southwards and pushing the high out. This means that the north / Scotland will turn unsettled with cooler conditions and rain from Sunday and the south will hang onto better conditions through Sunday with that cooler, more unsettled weather arriving on Monday. Ireland being closer to the low will probably get the wrong end of the weather stick with wetter conditions expected in the west on Saturday and moving eastwards through the day to make Sunday and Monday pretty wet days as well. (but of course it is not your Bank Holiday thankfully)

Now this weather dynamic between the low and high pressure may well change as we go through the week but the above is my interpretation of 3 GFS outputs…..If they’re right, the beginning of next week will be cool, wet and unsettled and that may extend through next week.

Weather Outlook

As hinted above, next week’s weather is finely balanced between a Bay of Biscay high pressure obviously sitting south of the U.K and a northerly Atlantic low pressure system. Currently GFS output has the low dominating and keeping the high pressure to the south and that allows a strong westerly airflow with plenty of rain. Now that dynamic only has to tweak a little and that rain may push further northwards and not across the south of England.

My take is that the low pressure systems will win the day and I don’t seem to be the only one as I note the precipitation probabilities on Meteoblue are very high for a week out…

Not great amounts of rain shown yet but that will definitely change. So my take on next week is for a wet Monday, an unsettled but drier Tuesday before more heavier rain arrives on Wednesday. Thereafter unsettled with the threat of more rain arriving later in the week. Cool, mid-teens temperatures will prevail with reasonable night temperatures because of cloud cover so in other words good growing weather…

Agronomic Notes

Seedheads….

As predicted in a previous blog, the combination of rainfall and warmer weather has pushed Poa annua back into life but since it had already started its seedhead development, that’s what a lot of people have seen as consequence…seedheads.

I think the picture above was where Poa annua was sitting during that dry spell, i.e with seedhead formed but not visible and down ‘in the boot’ as they say. Once conditions changed the seedhead and panicle were quickly elevated above the canopy. This puts it out of sync a little with GDD because although GDD were advancing, the lack of rainfall had kept Poa from growing so realistically we can expect a few more weeks of seedhead flush before it begins to fade. The change from warmer weather to cooler conditions if it comes to pass will help in this process.

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Growth Outlook

As you can see from the Meteoturf above, the projected GDD total is 57 and 5.4 for total G.P, that means we are averaging 8GDD, 0.77 G.P per day, that’s 77% of optimal growth. So outfield areas provided you’ve managed to pick up some moisture lately will be getting a shift on and greens also will continue to display consistent growth. A couple of cooler nights at the beginning of this week will give way to more growth at that latter part of the week as cloud cover moves in. With light winds and dry weather this week on the whole and a potentially wet outlook for next week, we have a great opportunity to keep things under control from a PGR perspective.

Now some of you will be looking at areas that have been overseeded maybe last autumn, maybe dormant-seeded this spring and may well be wondering should I apply a PGR ?

The consensus seems to be that once you have a mature sward and good grass coverage (canopy closure) then you are fine to apply a PGR. On the contrary if your grass is still early in establishment then it is best to leave it, particularly if you are contemplating a high rate application of Trinexapac-ethyl (TE)   You may have a little more leeway with ryegrass because as a species it is least-affected by the application of TE.

So for me this week is about getting things under control, getting foliar applications out, PGR’s, selective herbicides, etc and this will be particularly important if we lose potential spray windows next week with the potential for unsettled conditions.

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Microdochium nivale

As you might expect with warmth and moisture there’s still disease pressure out there. As the above graphic taken from my Netatmo data shows we are running some pretty close air temperature / dewpoint data and that means high localised humidity on the plant leaf and a greater risk of Microdochium nivale. On the plus side with good GDD / G.P, we should be growing it out easily enough.

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Leatherjackets

I see there is lots of discussion on Twitter and feedback from the field on these fellers. Without a doubt population levels are high this spring and with no effective control in agriculture I guess the problem is likely to escalate. Now we were in a very fortunate position with a product like Chlorpyrifos, it was cheap and effective though if you remember once the larvae reach a certain size / instar growth stage, the chemical was much less effective (because the high fat content of the grub protected its central nervous system).

Last week saw the emergency approval of Acelepryn for 2019 with an expanded label. (https://www.greencast.co.uk/product/crop-protection/insecticide/acelepryn).

Last year I think it is fair to say that efficacy of this product on Leather jackets was mixed, some people saw less activity and consequently less damage by Badgers and Corvids, others did not experience good control.

Now we in an analogous situation to fungicides here, in that older versions were more effective and the newer registered products less so and therefore we have to approach the problem differently than in the past. It isn’t just a case of using Acelepryn like Chlorpyrifos, nor is it likely to be with a higher cost per hectare and usage restricted to one application.

Continuing that analogy, timing is everything and that’s probably a lesson we learnt last year. There’s some good advice on Greencast with reference to this but specifically when we talk about Leatherjackets, it is a complicated subject. As a fly fisherman I’ve noted adult Crane Fly on the wing for the last 10-14 days here in my location in The Midlands, it will be different in other areas of the U.K because of temperature anomalies and soil type. So it won’t be a one size fits all, we / you will need to understand life cycles much better and above all get the material into the ground prior to egg hatch so it has time to get into the soil as the grubs are emerging. In my mind that kind of rules out usage now because most of the grubs are at a later instar stage than the product will control and the main population – egg laying period will be in the late summer / early autumn as per usual. Remember if you apply now then that’s your one app per year gone.

Here’s some pertinent points on the Syngenta factsheet that you can access here

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Pest Tracker

To help build a countrywide database Syngenta are asking for your help in logging which species you have noted and where, simply by entering the species and your postcode in a PestTracker form. You can access it here

You can then see how the populations / reports are building for each species on a mapping tool accessible here

So hopefully with more data, better information, more site condition-specific recommendations will follow and these will increase the efficacy of the product.

Tempus does indeed fugit my friends as my 1 p.m. publishing deadline approaches so I must depart this blog 🙂

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

May 13th

Hi All,

Well we got the rain last week, nice and steady so it went into the profile rather than running off. It wasn’t all steady rain though as I observed first hand whilst out mountain biking on Friday evening. This gnarly bit of torrential rain had me reaching for my waterproof jacket as soon as it came into view. It stalked me on my route before embracing me with a cracking downpour that soaked me down to my gruts. It was interesting though that by Sunday afternoon the fields that I walked on were already dry and the streams and ditches showed the lack of run off which in a way is good.

When you look at the picture of this golf course a number of different sentiments may come to mind. It is the classic, early 90’s, American-style golf course, lots of earth moving and sand during the construction and probably not what you’d immediately associate with good environment for nature.  But you’d be wrong as it represents a thriving environment for birds , mammals and insects.

The fact that through the efforts of the course manager it has a thriving Owl and Kestrel population with Tawny, Barn and Little Owls all in residence and doing well. This in contrast to their broad decline in our monosward-style countryside is a source of credit and hope for the future. It also shows you don’t have to be on a heathland or links golf course to have creditable environmental credentials. Just a bit of will, money and resource at home and at work gives nature a helping hand and one it so desperately needs.

OK time to get off nature’s soapbox and onto what is a nicely predictable weather forecast for some of this week anyway because after the rain comes the sunshine and then maybe (maybe) a bit more rain…(for some)

General Weather Situation

So a very straight-forward weather forecast for the first 3-4 days of the week with high pressure in charge meaning long spells of warm sunshine, very little in the way of cloud cover, maybe more across Ireland, the east of Scotland and The North-East. Night time temperatures in the mid to high single figures and increasing as we go through the week, with Scotland looking like it will top the temperatures for the U.K with low twenties vs. high teens maybe just touching 20°C for the rest of the U.K and Ireland. Winds look to be moderate and easterly for the U.K and southerly for Ireland as you’re on the tuther side of the high pressure.

So we move rapidly onto Thursday and here we see the first part of a change in the weather as although dry Thursday will feature more in the way of cloud pushing in from the east for the 2nd part of the day so for western coasts, Wales and Ireland you should still have a cracking day of sunshine. It’ll stay warm with similar temperatures to earlier in the week though dipping from the east as that cloud advances on Thursday.  So I’d say 16°C under the cloud and maybe 20 °C for the west and north. The wind will be moderate to fresh and from the east – north-east.

Onto Friday and a Bay of Biscay low begins to influence our weather so by dawn we see that cloud cover has extended to cover most of the U.K. We will also see some showers pushing in from The Wash into East Anglia and The Midlands from early doors. Later these may cross over into Wales for the end of the day. Most areas staying dry though but since we are talking continental rainfall we have to throw our usual caveat into the ring.  So a duller day on Friday for most areas with maybe Ireland and Scotland holding onto more in the way of sunshine and temperature. Notably cooler though as that drop in temperature continues with only low teens for central U.K whilst Ireland and Scotland will remain in the mid-high teens.

So how does the outlook for the weekend look ?

Well not exactly brill, but not hopeless either to be honest with more cloud cover and some rain around as well but temperatures should recover somewhat. Saturday looks to start dry and dull for most but rain is due to push up from the south and south-east during the morning and into the afternoon. Expect some showers as well across South Munster through Saturday morning. Since we are talking about a Bay of Biscay low pressure it means most of the rain will be southern U.K / Ireland-orientated through the weekend. Ironically with this change in weather, the south will pick up a north / north-east wind but slightly better temperatures, back up into the mid to high teens across Saturday and Sunday. Sunday follows a similar pattern with showers across the south of England, a few pushing north before a more consolidated rain front pushes in to affect the southern half of the country. Away from this it’ll be cloudy with sunny intervals and reasonable temperatures. Expect rainfall amounts to change on your forecast this week up to the weekend as forecasters try to make sense of this tricky-to-predict type of weather pattern.

Image courtesy of meteocentre.com

Weather Outlook

So next week is a tricky one to call aside from saying that Portugal, Spain and France look to be in line a real deluge and since the low is slow-moving I expect some severe flooding in places.

For the U.K and Ireland we have a complex weather picture (see above) that could really go either way. We have that Bay of Biscay low and a developing Atlantic low squeezing out the high pressure system that will bring us lovely weather this week. I think we will see showers still across the southern half of the U.K through the early part of next week with other areas remaining dry before low pressure begins to push more unsettled conditions into the north and north-west later on next week. The smart money is on low pressure dominating for the coming Bank Holiday weekend if only because as soon as the villages round here start advertising local fetes, it yaks it down 🙂 So unsettled in the south of the U.K and Ireland through next week, drier and probably warmer further north before the weather settles down at the end of the week only for low pressure to push in for the 2nd half of the Bank Holiday. That’s my take on it…

Agronomic Notes

Growth Outlook

As predicted last week we have a much better growth proposition going forward this week with consistently good daily Growth Potential for the U.K and Ireland. Slightly cooler nights for the first part of the week will hold things back nicely but as cloud cover pushes in later in the week we lose this feature and in some areas (England) the G.P keeps rising. With last week’s rain and this growth outlook I’d expect surfaces to come on well and particularly Poa annua-dominated greens will shake off their “Don’t like this cold, dry weather” mood and swing more into line.

A great uptake window…

Again as predicted (yes I know but someone has to…) this week will present a great uptake window for a whole myriad of applications, be that selective herbicides, foliar feeds and probably most importantly, PGR’s, as things might need pegging back a bit if you get my drift. It is a funny old game turf management when we wait ages for consistent growth and then as soon as it comes we look at pegging it back 🙂

2019 now very similar to 2018 from a GDD-perspective…

If we look at how the 2019 GDD is tracking as we approach mid-May, we can see that this years cool April of 2019 has actually put us more or less bang on where we were at the same point last year give or take a day ( Cumulative GDD 2019 = 287 vs. cumulative GDD 2018 = 276 for this location)

If you follow the GDD curve for 2019 from this point it just kept piling on the GDD through June and July as well. I have a hunch we won’t follow the same pattern as summer 2018 in 2019 but we will see.

Water as a resource…

I know some of us have one eye on our water supply at the moment after a dry winter / spring in some geographical areas of the U.K & Ireland. Last summer left its mark on many an outfield that is still visible today so it was with interest that I received this document in my Inbox (Cheers Rob) detailing the Environmental Agency’s summary of irrigation / abstraction availability.

You can download the above document here

The red shading indicates areas of England that are classified as ‘POOR’ when it comes to groundwater levels and water availability with the yellow areas classified as ‘MODERATE’.

In the report it mentions that the long-term rainfall prospects for the summer are equal between above-average vs. below-average precipitation (which may be a meteorological way of sticking your finger in the air). There is however a consistent thread through the document that warns that with a dry winter followed by an extremely dry spring (for some central and eastern areas) there is a possibility of local restrictions. Personally looking at where we are water-wise locally in terms of low reservoir, river and pond levels and with the thousands of houses that are seemingly popping up everywhere with no corresponding investment in infrastructure, (no new reservoirs)I can’t see this being avoidable.

A well-timed PGR application can reap benefits in the summer

One lesson from last year from which I saw clear benefits from an outfield perspective ( in particular) was holding back growth with a high rate of PGR prior to the heat of the summer, It really extended plant viability by reducing growth and obviously plant water usage as a consequence. A bit early yet in May but the trick will be reading the weather right before we hit a prolonged hot spell and applying a PGR. Obviously this may not be workable on recently over-seeded areas where you really need to get mature plant coverage first before doing so because the PGR can adversely affect an immature grass plant. One to think about though maybe ?

Ok that’s me for another week, enjoy the sun, don’t forget your sun cream if you burn easily….

Al the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

May 7th

Hi All,

It has been a funny old year so far and this picture tells a number of stories….A very low water level (it’s normally up to the tree line), sharp showers, a peep of sunshine and then the next bank of showers running through. Our year seems very much to me to be stop-start, we have either had the temperature with no moisture or vice-versa. That said we definitely have put on some growth over the last 2 weeks because I walked on Sunday on paths I hadn’t walked for a fortnight and the grass, hedgerows, verges and crops had come on a bundle. What wasn’t in this picture were hundreds of Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows feeding up on a good buzzer hatch. I also saw my first Swifts yesterday and had a lovely low fly past (20ft away) by an Osprey. Sometimes nature by itself is such as tonic…

Looking at the forthcoming weather that could be next week as a wet, cool week this week looks to be followed by some better temperatures next week, so hang onto your hats on your outfield as the growth hand brake gets let off. I’d say that’s pretty typical for mid-May.

Let’s put some more detail on the weather ;

Image courtesy of Meteocentre.com

General Weather Situation

A wet cool week on the way but with low pressure in charge at least we get to lose those night frosts.

So Tuesday starts with a change in the wind, away from those cool north westerlies to south and eventually south-west. The image above highlights two low pressure systems heading our way and you can see their orientation is west and south of the U.K, so that’s the area in the firing line for the rain (some of you will be pleased to know). So starting off we see the first showers from that low pressure drifting in over the south and west of Ireland, the west coast of Scotland and the north of England, not to mention some just hanging off the east coast. Through the morning these showers will consolidate over Scotland and the north of England as well as Ireland with only Leinster missing most of the rain. Further south and east across the U.K will stay dry, but dull with very little chance of seeing much sun. Through the afternoon some of these showers will push into The Midlands and eastern England. The first rain from those Atlantic low pressure systems is due to make landfall tonight across the south-west of England and Ireland and overnight it will push north and east into southern England. I for one will be glued to the V8 Netweather radar before closing my eyes. So for Tuesday a coolish day again with temperatures creeping up into the mid-teens maybe but significantly cooler over Scotland barely breaking into double figures. Winds will be light and from the south-west / south and south-east.

Wednesday then sees that rain by dawn across the whole of the south of England, Wales and southern half of Ireland and it will move north into northern England and Scotland through the morning. It isn’t expected to clear the south coast of Ireland till the afternoon and probably not the south coast of England till dusk. So a pretty wet day for all on Wednesday with some significant rainfall totals and boy will I be a happy man if we get it :). Cool again for many as we might expect with this low pressure with an increasingly fresh south-easterly wind which will swing westerly through the 2nd part of the day. Expect low teens from a temperature perspective for Wednesday.

Thursday sees that low pressure pushing some welcome rain and milder temperatures into Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia. A dry (ish) start to the day but from the off expect to see showers over Scotland and the north of England / Ireland. Since the low is now to the east of us we will get winds from the north for Thursday so another chilly day with showers pushing down on that northerly wind through the course of Thursday morning. By the afternoon these showers will consolidate into a rain front for the north of Ireland, Scotland, northern England, Wales, The Midlands and The South East with only The South West and far south of England remaining dry. The same dynamic applies to Ireland with the rain probably getting as far south as Wexford before petering out to showers through the late afternoon / evening. A cool day as hinted above with the fresh to moderate northerly wind with temperatures lucky to climb up into low double figures for everyone.

Closing out a short week (for some) Friday looks to be a drier and possibly brighter day though still with the likelihood of showers for the north-west, northern England and East Anglia. Again these will bubble up through the morning and consolidate into longer spells of rain so if you start the day dry, you might not end it that way. A similar pattern for Ireland and Scotland but maybe less in the way of rain showers here and some chance of seeing sunny intervals over Ireland. These showers may hang around all day and really not peter out till dusk. Winds will swing round to westerly and be light to moderate so that’ll ease up temperatures by a couple of degrees compared to Thursday, expect 11-14°C.

So how does the weekend look ?

Well not too bad unless you are in Scotland which looks to have a potentially wet start to Saturday as rain pushes into Scotland and the north-west of England. Some of those showers may push south into northern England and The Midlands as well later in the morning. Away from this northern rain front a pretty quiet day for Ireland, Wales and England with moderate north-westerly winds keeping temperatures similar to Friday. Cool nights though for the weekend. Later on Saturday afternoon we may see some showers bubble up for the south east of England. Sunday looks dry for the U.K but a rain front will push into the south west of Ireland and then up and along the west coast of Munster into Connacht later in the day. Sunday sees the influence of high pressure slink into our weather so much better temperatures, up into the mid to high teens and a dry if a little dull day for many.

Weather Outlook

So next week we have a pretty good weather forecast for the week with high pressure pushing in much warmer continental air on south-easterly winds. So from Monday through to Wednesday / Thursday we look to have a dry, warm outlook with plenty of sunshine and I would expect temperatures into the high teens / low twenties maybe. Happy Days. Through the 2nd half of the week we have a low pressure system building in The Bay of Biscay and that will push cooler, more cloudier weather into the southern half of England whilst the north and Scotland holds onto the high pressure. We still look to stay dry through but with slightly cooler easterly winds from the bottom of the high pressure. I also think we should not see decent night temperatures with no risk of frost. All in all not bad.

Agronomic Notes

GDD Summary April

So as usual for the first blog of the month, I’ll take a look back at April from a GDD perspective from our usual range of locations…Thanks to everyone for their contributions, I can’t repeat enough how much I value them and how it enables me to make this blog half decent, ta chuck.

GDD Summary – Thame, U.K

Looking at the GDD data, 94.5GDD for the month would put this as a pretty middle of the road April, typical of what we experience nowadays. A spell of cold and dry weather with night frosts and a blip of a heat wave at some point in the month.

To put it even more into perspective April 2018 actually posted a higher GDD than April 2019 and bear in mind we only registered temperature for the 2nd half of April 2018, it shows you what an indifferent month April 2019 was. I’m glad it’s over and personally I’d pick April as the worst growing month of our calendar.

Looking at the cumulative GDD total for the year we come in at 207 GDD, ahead of last year courtesy of February and March but again decidedly average.

GDD & Rainfall – UK Locations

One very discernible trait with respect to April 2019 in that it’s been a very dry month indeed especially across central and eastern regions of the U.K. Growth-wise you can see a north-south divide with Fife coming in at 66GDD vs. double that for central and southerly regions of the U.K.  The tricky fact that the numbers fail to highlight is that most of this GDD was piled on in a very short space of time and during a period of no rainfall so the heat was of little benefit on unirrigated areas. This was especially true for courses and pitches requiring growth on fairways / outfields respectively.

GDD & Rainfall – Irish Locations

An extremely variable month for Ireland as well with a very clear difference in GDD between the west and east. Valentia, Doonbeg and Limerick all posted GDD > 130 whereas Dublin was down at 81.4, Wexford 86.6 and Cork at 92.7.

This puts somewhere like Doonbeg way ahead of Dublin, some 6 weeks by GDD reckoning, whereas Cork would be sitting 7 days ahead of Dublin. Rainfall-wise, pretty evenly spread but that said Bray and Casement in Dublin were the driest locations again and for once Kerry wasn’t the wettest !!!! Gee could we do with that rainfall over here 🙁

Hmmmm Spring so far ???

So I lifted some charts from our GDD / G.P spreadsheet which are put together to provide a seasonal summary. I picked 3 locations, Thame, York and Doonbeg in Ireland and it is interesting to see the differences.

The big difference is much higher GDD for the Irish locations (particularly south west and west) and this is caused the milder airflow that the west of Ireland experiences vs. the drier, colder continental airflow that we have been saddled with most of this spring. The impact of this is particularly noticeable in terms of milder night temperatures for the Irish location vs. the two locations in the U.K.

This increases the daily GDD / G.P for the Irish location vs. the two U.K locations to the point where at the end of April Doonbeg reached 376 total GDD vs. 202 for Thame and 176 for York. From a GDD perspective, Doonbeg is 6 weeks ahead of Thame and 7 weeks ahead of York, that’s some difference….

If you look at the number of days of good spring growth, we have Doonbeg @ 31, Thame @ 11 and York @ 10 from Jan 1st to April 30th !!

So that’s why our spring feels slow and hard work over here in the U.K because practically we have had very little good spring growth days.

Less than 10% of the days from Jan to April have been good from a growth perspective and of course most of those occurred when we had no rainfall. That’s another feature of the charts above that is clear to see, the Irish location has had more consistent rainfall whereas this spring in the U.K has been characterised by long spells of dry weather and under-average rainfall. Fortunately this is about to change on both counts 🙂

Poa annua doesn’t like it…

Cold and dry are the worst two growing conditions for Poa annua and so it tends to shut down and go into seedhead mode. This has been very clear on Poa-dominated greens, they haven’t really wanted to move much. This undesirable phenomenon will change though over the next week because with decent rainfall promised this week (and note it is coming from the south so much more likely that we will get it in the southern half of the U.K) and better temperatures from Monday next week onwards, Poa will zip back into growth mode although some of this will be negated by seedhead formation. So let us hope the worst is behind us from this respect.

Microdochium nivale activity…

Plenty of copper blotching Microdochium nivale around at the moment with some consistent pressure last week. This was down to some mild night temperatures, a bit of increased humidity and dew. Looking ahead we can expect to see an increase in activity from Sunday night onwards as we pick up better night temperatures but the flipside is that we can also expect the growth to grow it out..(See Meteoturf output below)

Growth flush…..

With a dump of rain this week (hopefully) and increasing temperatures after the weekend you can see the clear pick up in growth from Monday onwards. After some cooler nights of late and over the coming weekend, we pick up better night-time temperatures and that takes the G.P up from 0.2 to close to 0.6. OK, it isn’t off the scale but the increased growth will be pleasantly noticeable and allow you to pick up those outfields, blend in your Poa, bent, fescue, rye (delete where applicable) and maybe do some selective / PGR spraying with a nice spray window. Mint.

I do like to sign off on a positive 😛

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

April 29th

 

Hi All,

After an extremely dry last half of March and most of April I was actually looking forward to a weekend of rain, such is the mindset of those who work in the turfgrass industry.

The top of Hare Pie Hill, Hallaton…Scene of Easter Bottle Kicking and many a broken bone, bloody nose to boot !

A week of warm weather previous to that with high daily E.T’s had put grass on the back foot and Poa annua into seedhead mode. On Saturday we were initially promised 9mm, then 7mm, then 4mm and we ended up with 0.70mm 🙁

I must have worn out the refresh button on my NetWeather Extra V8 Rain Radar as I watched a big mass of rain sit over North Wales and Cheshire (34mm for the latter eh Mikey) and instead of it pushing inland to The Midlands, it just stayed there, it didn’t move all day, despite the fact it was blowing a houlie and freezing for an end of April day. So for the rainfall losers who bemoaned that fact on Twitter over the weekend, you have my sympathies. The transition from a warm peak to a cool trough was quite dramatic temperature-wise and had many reaching for their recently discarded winter layers as we struggled to hit even double figure temperatures on Saturday, tricky times indeed.

So do we have anymore rain on the horizon ?

General Weather Situation

Well Monday starts off looking pretty misty, dull and overcast for many but it’s an west- east divide with a chunk of rain sitting over The Irish Sea, just nicking the north-east coast of Ireland and extending down through Wales into The South West of England. As we go through the early afternoon this band of rain will push slowly westwards into the east and north-west of Ireland, drying up in the west of England and Wales. Away from this band of rain we look set for a pretty settled and dry day, if a little dull with reasonable temperatures pushing up into the mid-teens. Maybe the east and north-east of Scotland will see some good spells of sunshine but everywhere else these will be limited. Winds will be light and easterly.

Overnight into Tuesday and we see a rain front from an Atlantic low pressure system push into the west of Ireland and by dawn this rain will cover the whole of the Ireland. Away from this rain we will see a much brighter start on Tuesday aside from western coasts where cloud from that Atlantic front will build. By the afternoon this rain will be clearing Ireland from the west and pushing into the south-west / north-west of Scotland. Elsewhere we look to stay dry and warm with temperatures climbing towards the high teens in the south of England, but 3-4°C lower than this for Ireland and Scotland under that cloud cover and rain. Winds will be light to moderate and from the south.

Onto Wednesday and that band of rain overnight has consolidated and moved eastwards so by dawn it’ll be affecting the whole western coastline of the U.K from The South West, through Wales, The Lakes and right up to north-west Scotland. Through the course of Wednesday this front will push eastwards across Scotland and the north of England. During the early afternoon, another rain front will push into the west of Ireland and move eastwards across the country during the 2nd part of the day. The southerly rain front over the U.K is projected to stall and make slow progress with not a lot of rain for The Midlands / south of England I’m afraid. So a duller day on Wednesday with more in the way of cloud from that front and the chance of rain for many north of The Midlands. Temperature-wise, we are down in the mid-teens with that cloud cover so 13-15°C is likely. The best chance of seeing the sun will be across the east of England.

Onto Thursday and that unsettled picture sees rain crossing The Midlands overnight and by dawn it’ll be sitting over East Anglia. More rain is also projected for the west of Ireland, west Wales and western / central Scotland from the off on Thursday, and it is likely to be the wettest day of the week. Through Thursday morning we will see that rain consolidate over Ireland and the north and west of England pushing into all areas through the second half of the day. For the drier southern counties, this is our best chance of rain this week thankfully I’ll be sitting in a strategy meeting so unable to see the outcome 🙂 By late afternoon, Ireland should be drying out except for the east of Leinster where that rain will linger. Notable not only for rain on Thursday but a freshening north-westerly wind which will push this rain southwards and introduce a much cooler feel to the weather with temperatures struggling to get much above double figures so expect 11-12°C as typical, maybe slight warmer for Scotland.

Closing out the week on Friday we have that overnight rain largely cleared the U.K and Ireland. I say largely because there’s a likelihood of some rain still lingering over the north of England and this is projected to push down into The Midlands through the early part of Friday. A real north -south divide on Friday as Scotland and the far north of England looks to have a sunny and pleasant start to the day whereas from the north of England down it’ll be dull and with a risk of showers. Ireland looks dull but dry. So a dull and showery forecast for the southern half of the U.K and Wales, drier for the north though later some rain and wintry showers is forecast for the north-east of Scotland. It will feel raw though for early May in the U.K with a moderate to strong northerly wind imparting significant windchill. As we close out the day that cloud cover will break and temperatures will climb a little into the other side of double figures, still cool though for early May. Even after dusk we may see some of those showers consolidating over southern England.

After an unsettled end to the week, the weekend looks more promising as high pressure takes over with a largely dry outlook with plenty of sunshine and rising temperatures through the weekend with Sunday / Monday, the warmer days of the mix. This switch to high pressure though will bring a return to frosts as we begin May so if you’re out first thing wrap up well. It’s a Bank holiday for the U.K and Bank Holiday Monday looks to be fine and dry with long spells of hazy sunshine and not bad mid-teen temperatures. The only fly in the ointment will be for Scotland and the north of England where rain preceded by cloud will push in through Monday morning and drift south through the day down into The Peak District by close of play probably.

Weather Outlook

So Monday looks to be largely warm and dry for England, Wales and Ireland but as we move through the 2nd half of the day we will see rain and cloud push into Scotland and the west of Ireland and the wind freshen and swing south-westerly. This change marks the arrival of not one but two low pressure systems sitting out west of the U.K. Initially these will drive wind and rain into the west and north of the U.K whilst high pressure still sits over the south of England but through the 2nd part of Tuesday, the more southerly of the low pressure systems will bring its influence to bear pushing rain and cooler weather into central parts of the U.K. So the 2nd part of next week looks cool, wet and windy for all areas but of course we have the usual caveat about a longer-term forecast. My hunch is that the low pressure systems will indeed dominate because there’s two of them and only one high in their way.

Agronomic Notes

Spring 2019

If you’ve been religiously filling in one of our GDD / G.P spreadsheets you’ll find a useful tab called ‘charts’ on it which should give you plenty of useful data. It is divided into seasons so below is output from a Birmingham location (thanks Jonathan) for nearly the first 4 months of this year..

I think it summarises very well our spring or one might think, our lack of spring. March you can see gave very little good growth, 4 days actually which is only one more than February ! We can see for April the arrival of the very warm temperature quite clearly but of course it coincided with a period of no rainfall so unless you had irrigation to areas it provided little benefit.

This lack of strong growth has meant persistent Microdochium nivale symptoms, ok not aggressive Microdochium, but it’s there nonetheless in the sward, small copper blotches dotted across the profile. This continued growth of disease is due to mild night temperatures and the presence of dew. Tuesday and Wednesday this week may be significant for disease development along the lines mentioned above.  Once we hit the weekend though, it’ll drop away as colder nights come into the picture.

We have to consider the role of E.T more…

For many in the dry south of the U.K, the second half of April put Poa annua on its backside whilst bentgrass grew quite happily. The stats below show the main issue…

The period from the 18th April provided no rain and high daily E.T and that knocked Poa annua back into dormancy so we saw very little growth on Poa-dominated greens and undoubtedly this period led to a switch from leaf to seedhead production.

I think E.T remains one of the parameters that is least-measured in a turfgrass scenario, it’s also one of the hardest to obtain data on as most personal weather stations that upload data to the net don’t measure E.T, so getting historical data is difficult. When we have a period of high E.T, the grass plant undergoes physiological changes to preserve water loss and these changes can limit uptake of nutrient or more precisely uptake efficiency. It kind of closes down the hatches so you don’t really see a great deal of response from foliar applications during this period, be that nitrogen or iron for that matter.

A lot of times when people report to me that they haven’t seen a green up from a foliar iron application it is because the grass plant isn’t receptive in terms of uptake and that can be due to low soil moisture, cold temperature desiccation or as we experienced at the end of April, high temperature desiccation.

During the period from the 18th to the 26th of April we lost 29.2mm of moisture by E.T, that’s over 1″ of rainfall equivalent. Now of course we don’t irrigate at 100% E.T, normally we might be replace 50-60% of E.T loss by irrigation but on that basis we’d still need to replace 14.6mm of moisture @ 50% E.T replacement.

So how much did you irrigate during that period from a mm perspective ?

Of course moisture meters can help us manage soil moisture levels but it is important to realise that spring desiccation tends to be isolated to the top 12.5 -25.0mm of the profile and often we are reading deeper than this from a probe depth perspective.

How is 2019 shaping up from a GDD perspective ?

2019 to me is a strange year from a turfgrass perspective, we had a very warm start during the 2nd half of February but after that it has kind of proceeded in dribs and drabs with no really strong weather pattern dominating other than it has been very dry for many areas south of The Peak District.

If you look at the GDD stats, 2019 comes out as a middle of the road year so far, warmer than the SSW-affected years but behind the 2 best growing years we have had recently, 2017 and 2014. At the location above we passed the point for perennial biotype seedhead formation on the 23rd April, a week earlier than normal and right in the middle of the run of dry, warm weather with high daily E.T so that is why we are seeing Poa annua switch to seedhead mode.

Just to continue the theme on the above graph I have highlighted the period at the end of April / beginning of May and you can see in 4 years out of the last 7, the GDD graph flattens out for awhile before picking up strongly as we get into mid-May. This flat section of the graph corresponds to slow growth and more often than not, night frosts which depress the daily GDD (and G.P for that matter). 2019 will do the same, flattening off at the end of this week before picking up again as the night temperatures recover during the mid-part of next week.

A return to night frosts….

So we can see some good growth this week before we drop off a cliff from with another Baltic end to the week and frost at the weekend. The saving grace is that at least we won’t experience a surge of growth over the Bank holiday and a mountain of clippings.

Next week’s blog will be on Tuesday because of the Bank Holiday and I’ll be doing my normal monthly review.

Till then all the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

15th April

Hi All,

After 5 frosts on the bounce, the last 4 down at -3°C and a strongly Baltic easterly wind, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Sudden Stratospheric warming event promised for late January, took a sabbatical and turned up in April !.

Cracking timing with Augusta on the telly as well, I’d love to say I joined the many millions and stayed up to watch up but with it being a MotoGP, WSB and F1 weekend, I’d had my fix of telly 🙂 Great result though and nice to age comes before beauty sometimes. So we have two limiting factors to growth at present, temperature and of course moisture. Spring is now definitely late, my local Bluebell walk (Coton Manor) advertised that their Bluebells won’t be out in time for Easter if people are visiting the gardens and it would be more like the May Bank Holiday this year. Even the Swallows, Martins and Swifts are late. Last week I did some talks in Faro, Portugal and saw many Swift, Martin and Swallow overhead to the point where I wondered why they don’t just stop there, why did they keep coming to the U.K and Ireland ?

So is there any end in sight to this run of frosts / easterly wind and if so, will moisture follow ?

Image courtesy of Meteoblue

General Weather Situation

Well Monday dawns dry and cold for many, except of course if you are over The Irish Sea where they have a band of heavy rain currently sitting over Leinster and more heavy showers across Munster and Connacht. You can see the low pressure system bringing that rain to Ireland in the new Meteoblue graphic above (Like that Karl 🙂 ) and during the morning it will move north and away from the U.K, but a slither will push into The South West and western coasts later today to bring some much-needed rain. (though not much). Most of this easterly progress will be tonight and into the small hours of Tuesday. So The South West, Wales and western coasts can expect to see rain overnight. Away from this rain front it is business as usual for England and Scotland with a bright and cool day, but up a bit temperature-wise on the weekend courtesy of a no-show by frost earlier on Monday. There’s another reason for the increase in temperature and that’s a change in direction of the wind, swinging round to the south-east through Monday. The source of the south-easterly wind is Southern Europe rather than Scandinavia for the easterlies, and that will mean a gradual increase in temperature as we go through the week peaking nicely over the Easter weekend. Temperature-wise, expect 11-13°C in moderate to strong south-easterly winds and an end to the run of frosts as well with milder nights the other flip side to the weather this week.

Onto Tuesday and overnight that rain front will slowly move inland, into western Scotland, the north-west of England, possibly the west Midlands and along the south coast. I note here in The Midlands we are down for 2mm but I also note a 41% probability attached to that rainfall event so I won’t hold my breath 🙁 It’ll be a slow-moving front mind so some areas may not see any of that rain till the evening and eastern areas may not see it at all. It all depends on the strengths of the two respective fronts as to how much progress it makes inland. So as you can imagine, Tuesday will be a cloudier affair for most of the U.K, due to that rain front, with the exception of the east and south-east which should see more of the sunshine during the first part of the day. Ireland looks to have a largely dry but dull day after the damp start on Monday. Despite the cloud cover and rain front, temperatures will continue their slow climb, up to 14°C I’d reckon on Tuesday, especially if you get to see the sun and again a reasonably mild night.

Mid-week beckons and Wednesday sees a really nice day as that continental high pressure exerts its influence and the rain front has fizzled out overnight. So some warm sunny intervals expected on Wednesday with a warm south-easterly wind pushing temperatures up into the mid to high teens I’d say. Lighter winds as well by mid-week, swinging round briefly to the north before settling back in the south east again. So 14-17°C temperatures and good growing weather (if you got the rain)

Thursday sees the high strengthen its grip on our Easter weather and another improving weather picture despite stronger south-easterly / easterly winds. A mild night will allow temperatures to push up into the high teens with long spells of sunshine for many areas and hazy cloud as well.  That lovely weather picture will encompass all of the U.K and Ireland so a beautiful spring day beckons.

I’ll do the Easter weekend in one forecast because really there isn’t a lot to say about Good Friday to Easter Sunday (apart from it’ll be rubbish for fishing) because the forecast is long spells of unbroken sunshine from dawn to dusk with temperatures pushing up into the low twenties through the weekend. For most, an absolute cracker of an Easter weekend. Maybe some low cloud cover lingering over eastern coasts but lovely weather for our Easter break. I’ll be hanging up the fishing rods and getting out on the bike / motorbike to lose some winter lard 🙂

Weather Outlook

So will it last ?

Some of you may be hoping not because you’re so dry. Here in The Midlands we are in that camp, desperately needing rain before the EA starts to dust off its water restriction policies.

So the outlook currently is indeed for change with low pressure pushing down from Monday to start to introduce a cooler and more unsettled picture for next week. If this occurs we can expect rain moving in from the north-west to Scotland and Ireland by the 2nd half of Monday. This rain front will push down on north-west winds across the U.K through Tuesday to bring rain to many areas. The change in wind will also drop the temperatures down to the mid-teens, not bad though. By Wednesday a really deep low will be in situ over the U.K bringing strong winds and rain to many areas. This unsettled, wet and windy weather is likely to stay put for the rest of the week as the low pressure forms a trough in the jet stream. Experience has shown when this occurs, the low may be very slow-moving and therefore rainfall amounts could be significant. Blessed they will be if they occur.

Now of course there’s a caveat here because we have two competing weather systems but I’ve looked at 3 different GFS models and they all predict the low moving in after the weekend. Time will tell…..

Agronomic Notes

OK, so we know have 2 limiting factors to growth at the moment, cold nights and of course soil moisture. Here in Leicestershire, our last significant rainfall (> 4mm) was on the 16th of March with a whopping total of 5mm in dribs and drabs since and it’s showing. Cracks in the ground and plants already under drought stress, particularly where we have new seedlings from last autumn or dormant seeding in the winter.

Let’s look at the effect of temperature first on growth using the Growth Potential model…

So I picked some worked examples with 3 different temperatures, typical of what we have and will receive this week weather-wise and then looked at the effect on growth potential…

So the first example is a mild day, 12°C but with a significant ground frost, this would be typical of the last 5-7 days for many of us. Bearing in mind the scale for G.P goes from 0 (no growth) to 1.0, (optimum growth), a G.P total of 0.05 means we will see very little upright growth with this temperature scenario.

The second example would relate to a day like today, milder overnight, but not really setting the world on fire during the day temperature-wise. Currently my weather station is showing 12°C so that’s about right for this example. A G.P total of 0.26 would appear as pretty slow growth, not much more than a small amount of clippings in the box and I wouldn’t rank it as good spring growth day (My cut off would be 0.4 for that)

Lastly, we have an example which hopefully will be closer to reality at the end of this week with a mild night and a warm day. A 50% increase in day and night temperature over example 2 gives a 300% increase in resulting G.P. So here a figure of 0.72 for me would represent significant growth and for areas that aren’t moisture-limited, a good growth flush.

You can see the G.P building in the Meteoturf readouts for the 4 locations below ;

So we have temperature enough for growth but of course in some areas this won’t be enough and we need rain. To further compound this problem, the coming week is showing some pretty significant E.T stress. If you look at the readouts above for Southern England and South Wales, we are looking at 20-21mm moisture loss over the next week which means more drying winds and unless you pick up something tomorrow, no rainfall.

If you have irrigation to areas then really you have no excuse not to help the grass plant out through this time. I simply don’t get the argument of not watering with the reasoning that you would be lowering the soil temperature (temporarily) and slowing growth when the lack of water is slowing growth anyway ???

We all know this kind of weather puts Poa annua on its backside and gives bentgrass a nice start to the year. We also know that the temperature spike on the way together with the accompanying E.T loss will hasten in the arrival of seedheads and so we will have seedy greens with a slow to grow Poa annua component, remembering that when it is seeding, it isn’t tillering. The bentgrass will of course be leggy, woolly, whatever your description and so critical to managing this dynamic is maintaining a sensible cutting height so that the physiology of each plant species isn’t impacting on ball roll. Anything north of 4mm is bad news to me and many greens will benefit from 0.5mm off that to give good consistent surface at this time.

Now I know cutting height is an emotive issue and they’ll be some of you saying why lower the height and put the plant under more stress ? And you’d be right especially if you have your surface organic matter nicely under control in the top 25mm because with a roll and a 3.5 – 4mm cut, most greens will present and putt nicely but chuck in excess surface organic matter and that dynamic goes out of the window. And so we chase cutting height when we do not have control of surface organic matter which further puts the plant under stress, a vicious circle isn’t it ?

With the emergence / availability of lightweight greens rollers we can mitigate this issue by rolling to give us more green speed and a more consistent surface rather than coming down too low, too fast on the cutting height but it is a balancing act that is unique to each facility. Although you can happily trade cutting heights with your colleagues, the impact of your cutting height will be a function of your organic matter dynamic. For example if you have a golf course with greens affected by shade then we can surmise that these greens will not develop high levels of surface organic matter due to lower photosynthetic efficiency and so will feel firmer to the golfer than greens in a more open location cut at the same height on the same golf course. Greens with excess surface organic matter will also have a bigger differential between bench set cutting height and actual as the mower will tend to sink in to the surface of a softer green and so cut lower. There’s loads more variables I haven’t mentioned that also dovetail into this dynamic including soil moisture levels, nutrition and PGR usage to name but a few.

Speaking of soil moisture levels, I updated the moisture deficit graphic that I’ve been running since last June and you can see the typical dry spell-wet spell dynamic for this spring in the graph…You can download it here

Now I reckon if I had data for The Midlands our moisture deficit would be closer to -200mm since last June to the current day which puts us at a similar moisture deficit as the beginning of August 2018. You can see then why there’s such a concern about water availability if we are at this point in mid-April with the summer still to come. So I for one have everything crossed that next week’s low pressure system makes a timely appearance 🙂

Nutrition

Always a tricky one to advise because of the variability of site and geographical location. Many private schools at this time are rapidly trying to convert their winter season pitches to cricket outfields and I’d be hoping that the growth flush at the end of the week will help this process on considerably. I’d also be hoping with heavier soil types, more moisture would be retained within the profile and so moisture limitation won’t be as extreme as a sand-based rootzone on these sites.

If your surface is good, with good coverage and plant health then I think a light foliar timed towards the end of the week on the upward G.P curve will sort things very nicely prior to the Easter break. If you are chasing growth then that’s when a granular will be more up to the job provided you have irrigation to help things along. I’d be more confident on the latter if I knew that the low pressure / arrival of rain next week was a given. Bear in mind though that it will give a flush of growth and this may or may not be desirable.

No blog next week because I am taking a few days off after Easter, so the next one will be due at the end of April.

Till then all the best and have a happy and relaxing Easter.

Mark Hunt