Category Archives: Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog

January 13th

Hi All,

Well here we are nearly at the middle of January already, Tempus fugit indeed !

Over the course of last week we saw yet another southerly-orientated low pressure pull in some pretty hefty rainfall totals over Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland topping up an already high water table and saturated soils. Walking yesterday it was evident that any dry-down at the start of January had been negated by the heavy rain at the back end of last week. To me this seems the wettest winter we have endured and indeed it has been quite different from other wet autumn / winter in terms of the pattern of weather. Firstly, it started very early (third week of September), secondly there have been very few dry-down days since then and lastly, the low pressure systems have been southerly-orientated and slow-moving, leading to heavy daily rainfall totals. You will I think be pleased to hear that the high pressure signal mentioned last week for the end of this week is still looking odds on, so a dry respite is on the way. How long it ends up lasting is anyone’s guess 🙂

Some form of colder weather must be on its way though because all of my late-brood Hedgehogs have simultaneously hibernated (the parents did so back in the third week of November). This wasn’t before I managed to get one visitor to my garden (Parky) to the local wildlife hospital because at 235 gms he wouldn’t have been able to survive till spring. Stella is in there as well as she needs treatment for lungworm and a damaged leg. Hopefully both will survive and will be fit & healthy come March for me to re-house in my garden. Chatting to the staff there I learnt a lot more about Hedgehogs including how to get them to uncurl 🙂

So let’s see if this week’s forecast turns up some nicer weather for us all and if the Hedgepiglets were right ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts off as predicted last week with very strong winds and rain, some of it heavy. In the image above you can see the low pressure off the west coast of Ireland and the tightly-packed isobars that will bring us an unsettled start to the week. So from early doors on Monday we see rain, some of it heavy pushing into Ireland and also some scattered showers moving across England and Wales from The South West. Through the course of the day that rain will cross Ireland and make landfall across the west by lunchtime. It will then take most of the afternoon to reach central parts and overnight will cross all of the U.K. The accompanying winds will be very strong with gale force gusts likely. With a south west wind it will also be very mild across the south with temperatures expected to hit double figures. So wet and windy for the west, dull, drier and quieter for central regions till the wind and rain arrive. 

Tuesday sees that rain clearing away into The North Sea and a dry start for all areas, but not for long. Some showers will kick off from dawn for westerly coasts but during the late morning, a new southerly-orientated low pressure system will push into the south west of Ireland and England bringing further rain from lunchtime as it tracks north easterly. Ireland will also see that rain across the south and west move north eastwards through the morning and not to be outdone, Scotland will pick up rain across the north west. Some of that northern moisture will fall as wintry showers across elevation. That rain for Wales, England and central / western Scotland is in for the day but Ireland should see it clear away as dusk approaches. A real north-south divide temperature-wise with Scotland in the mid-single figures whereas down south we look to push well into the low teens. Very windy again from the south west.

Wednesday sees that rain still placed in a band across East Anglia and The South East, otherwise you’ll start dry save for some showers along the western-facing coasts of Ireland and the north west of Scotland. Through the morning that rain across the south east will depart but we will still see some showers for The South West, Wales, The North West and north-west Scotland where again they’ll be wintry. Through the afternoon that mix of rain, sleet and snow across Scotland will push eastwards into central areas. Windy still from the west / south-west and cooler as well with more in the way of sunshine away from western coasts on Wednesday limiting temperatures to high single figures. A good drying day though for most areas.

Thursday sees yet another southerly-based low push into the south and west of Ireland from the off. Now with tightly-packed southerly isobars this low will track more north than north east so during Thursday morning it’ll cover Ireland and push into the west of Scotland. Some of the rain associated with it will be heavy across Ireland. England and Wales will start off dry, particularly across the east and central areas. Around lunchtime that rain will push into The South West and South Wales and through the course of the afternoon, push eastwards into central areas clearing Ireland as it does so. So where you start dry, you’ll end up wet and vice-versa for Thursday. Again very windy from the south / south west with the strongest winds across Ireland and the west of the U.K. Temperatures will range from 8-10°C.

Finishing off what has been an unsettled week, Friday sees a day of sunshine and showers with most of the showers early doors across the west and north of England and the west coast of Ireland, Wales and England. As we move through the day those showers become less widespread and the wind drops down announcing the arrival of high pressure from the south west. So a drier 2nd half of the day for many, still with some showers across central areas and western coasts with some of them wintry across north-west Scotland. Cooler for Friday despite a westerly wind with temperatures down to 6-8°C.

So how do we look for the weekend ?

Well with high pressure pushing in we should see a dry weekend for everyone, colder as well with the risk of night frosts, just what we need to break up the soil and dry areas down. Winds will be light and from the north west reflecting the colder feel to the weather.

Weather Outlook

Above is the GFS projection for next Monday, 20th of January and as you can see we have high pressure in situ. I can’t remember the last time I wrote that in this blog but it is good news. How long will it last ? Well maybe a week, maybe a tad longer for the south but through next week we look to have a cold, settled and dry spell with night frosts.  This will gradually break down from the north towards the end of next week with some windier and more unsettled weather for Scotland towards the end of next week.

Want to know when it is going to get colder ?

Simple, Ask a Hedgepiglet…..

Agronomic Notes

OK, we will start off this week’s notes with a look back at December 2019 and also 2019 as a year….

GDD – UK Location – Thame, Oxfordshire

So December 2019 went out as a pretty cool one with a total GDD of 31, ranking it very similar to 2018 and previous years. As confidently predicted , 2019 wasn’t going to set the GDD world alight from a yearly total perspective, coming in below 2000 total GDD for the year and a good way off the peak years of 2017 and 2018.

As I’ve commented on before, I don’t believe the U.K & Ireland’s climate is following the climate trend we hear about so often on the news in terms of rising temperature year-on-year. This is because of our island location and the fact that the jet stream dictates our weather. Now of course there’s an argument to say the peak and trough patterns forming in the jet stream are the result of climate change with theories pointing towards less temperature differential between the equator and The North Pole. This means less energy driving the jet stream at certain points of the year and therefore more potential for the formation of Rossby Waves. (peak and trough patterns)

Certainly our weather nowadays seems to come in set ‘blocks’, the 10-week summer of 2018, when we had continuously high E.T, air temperature and no rain. The 12-week (and counting) block of autumn / winter 2019, with near continuous rain and very few drying days.

GDD & Rainfall – U.K Locations – December 2019

Looking across the GDD, my Netatmo data comes in lowest GDD for the month again, by virtue of my shaded back garden location I think rather than my unwillingness to put the central heating on 🙂 The biggest variability for December across the locations is not in growth but in rainfall with Fife coming in as one of driest and the warmest from a GDD perspective. This is because Scotland picked up some milder air at the end of the year and for many days was significantly warmer than down south. Wettest again was down in The South West with 219mm of rain falling in December, that is over 4 times the driest location and shows that the predominant rainfall patterns were south and west-orientated rather than the traditional north and west. You have my heartfelt sympathy lads and lasses down that neck of the woods….

GDD & Rainfall – Irish Locations – December 2019

Ireland follows a similar pattern but here there is much greater variability between locations Killiney coming in as the coolest location (16.1) by way of its higher elevation. Only a few miles up the coast as the Seagull flies and we have Donabate at 51.7. Just shows you can’t presume from a general location how your growth pattern has / will been / be. Valentia stands head and shoulders above the rest as the mildest and wettest, but you can also see the southerly and westerly orientation of the rainfall with Cork, Claremorris and Valentia, the wettest Irish locations.


I thought it might be a good idea to look at the total rainfall for 2019 for the sites that submit their weather data to me (thanks as always one and all) and also look at how much of that rain fell from September to the end of December. The results are pretty interesting……

Total rainfall for 2019 and autumn contribution – U.K Locations (all readings in mm)

It’s amazing to see the consistency in terms of the % of the yearly total rainfall that fell in effectively a 13-week period from the 3rd week of September to year end. For the U.K locations that we monitored, between 47 – 58% of the total rainfall of 2019 fell in effectively the last 25% of the year. So you want to know why everywhere is so wet ? well there’s your reason…. You can download the above graph here

Total rainfall for 2019 and autumn contribution – Irish Locations (all readings in mm)

For the Irish locations, the % of yearly total is lower on the whole varying from 35 – 53%, with the average down in the low 40’s. Nevertheless it is still reflective of a wetter-than-usual autumn / winter period….. You can download the above graph here

Another significant feature of autumn / winter 2019 was / is the lack of dry-down days that gave the soil a chance to return to some form of healthy oxygen status rather than the low oxygen / saturated soil status it has been for weeks now. I’ll do some digging into this particular feature later this month but time is marching on…

Microdochium nivale activity update

Last week I mentioned the activity peak between Christmas and New Year and this was repeated again last week as we picked up some very mild, southerly air and high humidity.

On most sites it seems to have shown as new activity around the edge of an existing fungal patch rather than new activity across the sward from a greens perspective. The type of activity shown below would be typical on a Poa annua-dominated green. Thanks……ah ah 

Speaking of our old friend Poa annua, it has been a pretty good autumn / winter for this grass plant species although it hasn’t had the temperature to grow as much as we would normally see in a wet winter because as my GDD stats show we have been wet but not mild. With low light and high rainfall I would also expect to see moss species on the up as well with the balance tipping towards them and away from grass.

Let us hope that as last year we transition into spring quickly and growth picks up well allowing the balance to swing back in favour of grass growth.

Rarely does a Meteoturf module tell a better story of this week with mild day and night temperatures accompanied by rainfall through the week resulting in a nice bit of growth and then a sharp drop-off in both as colder high pressure arrives. This one is for the Bracknell area of the U.K. As we progress through this week I expect low Microdochium nivale activity because of the strong wind and rain and for this trend to continue through next week as the colder air arrives.

BTME 2020

I hope to catch up with many of you at Harrogate next week but at the same time try to avoid my half-marathon training regime going down the pan at too fast a rate 🙂

A delicate balance if ever there was one 🙂

You can find the Headland Weathercheck link for Harrogate here…I reckon it’ll be fine, dry and cold.

OK, that’s me for another week…

All the best.

Mark Hunt

January 6th

Hi All and Happy New Year !

This post marks my 9th year (to the day) of this blog as I published the first one on 06/01/11.

That particular January we had snow cover, my Paddy Power bets had come in and we had plenty of Microdochium pressure.

If you think back then to the type of products we had at our disposal, not just fungicides, and now look at where we are, times have changed radically in the interim and to a point, we have adapted. As I look ahead, our ability to react and change will continue to be tested whether maintaining a golf course or responsible for running one as there appears very little let up from the weather pressure we have experienced of late.

Climate change is very much in the news now with the bush fires in Australia, melting ice caps and the ever increasingly negative predictions from climate scientists on where we are going as a world. Looking at our winter in a microcosm, we have had very few frosts, an inordinate amount of rain and honestly so far winter is just an extension of autumn. Now we know traditionally winter doesn’t start till after Christmas but I just can’t see the cold on the worldwide map. I have a customer in Russia where it’s normally -10 to -20 °C at this time of year and there it is still above freezing during the day with very little snow. It’s early days yet maybe to start talking about a year without a winter but traditionally our cold comes from the north and east. Well if Russia is barely freezing, it isn’t coming from there. Can’t see it coming from the north either. Recently you may have seen Norway enjoyed its warmest January day when the village of Sunndalsora recorded 19 °C on the 2nd of January, some 25 °C higher than their ‘normal’ average temperature for January. I’ll predict now that periods of March and April will be colder than this January.

That is the clear feature of our changing climate, warmer air is extending further north and a change in the behaviour of the jet stream is behind it I believe.

Thankfully for most, the Christmas period was dry, as was the start of 2020, but we have some new rain on the radar this week so the respite though very welcome will only brief.

For GDPR reasons, the Hedgehog in this picture isn’t actually Stella 🙂

Christmas for me was highlighted by the arrival of a Hedgehoglet the day before Christmas Eve. A friend of a friend knew I have a sweet spot for these animals and duly pitched up with a very wet and cold example that was found in the gutter. Some heat, Puppy milk and now a residence in the garage seem to have done the trick and he or she is pilling on weight. My local Wildlife hospital has 300 Hedgehoglets that they are looking after over the winter and can take no more. All of these were left without parents when they duly hibernated in late November and without Mothers milk and tender care have become stressed and pretty helpless.

That said I still have 2 such young Hedgehogs visiting my garden, they are very small (350gm) and if the weather looks to be turning ugly will soon join my present incumbent, Stella, in the garage to see out February. “Stella” by the way doesn’t mean that my resident is a female, I named her after the favourite tipple of the lady that called me 😉 (thanks Jude)

On a serious note, come spring there will be a need to rehouse these little animals in the wild, so if you can run to the cost of a Hedgehog house, have a quiet corner of the garden free and crucially don’t have a dog that would try to harm them, they make a good addition. They’re excellent at keeping down slugs and snails as well and kids seem fascinated by them.

Onto the weather, this week’s blog won’t contain a summary of December 2019, simply because if I don’t apply myself to writing some literature content sometime soon, I will incur the wrath of my erstwhile colleague, Mr Russell, so that’ll be next week.

General Weather Situation

With a 10-day window of dry conditions here , you could almost hear the countryside starting to breath again as ditches and rivers returned to normal winter levels. The same goes for our soil as well that has sat saturated for long periods of autumn / winter 2019 / 20. Although we have rain this week, some of it heavy, I don’t see a return to the weather pattern of September – December, 2019. The image above shows the temporary peak of high pressure that has brought us some dry weather of late and although this will be shunted eastwards this week with the arrival of low pressure, I can already see new ones on the weather horizon.

So Monday looks to start off dry everywhere across the U.K, but we have a threatening low pressure system pushing in from the west and this is already across Ireland bringing wind and rain to most areas. Through the morning this rain will clear from the west of Ireland and push into western coasts and England, Wales and Scotland, moving quickly eastwards. By mid-afternoon the rain has cleared the east of Ireland and it’s eastern front will be into central areas and the west Midlands. This rain will stretch the entire length of the U.K so from The Isle of Wight right up to northern Scotland. It’s a quick-moving front though and by evening it should have cleared all but the north west of Scotland and even here it won’t last long into the night. A dull, mild, January day with temperatures in the high single figures and accompanied by a strong south westerly wind.

Overnight into Tuesday and we see another rain front pushing in however this one is more north westerly-orientated with rain from the off for north-west Ireland and Scotland. That rain will intensify through Tuesday morning over north-west Scotland with some heavy day totals likely. South and east of this we will enjoy a dry start to the day. Ireland will see some further rain through the course of Tuesday morning but it’ll always be heavier across the north and west. This rain will push showers into The North West and North Wales coastal areas with some of those showers drifting south across Mid and South Wales through the afternoon. Dry then for most central and eastern areas and it’ll feel very mild with temperatures into double figures and actually increasing through Tuesday night, aided by a fresh south westerly / westerly wind.

Onto Wednesday and a dry start for nearly all of the U.K & Ireland but it won’t last for long as wintry showers will push into north-west Scotland and later in the morning we will see a rain front push into The South West and Wales bringing heavy rain across Wales. This rain will push eastwards through the course of the 2nd half of Wednesday bringing rain to mainly central and southern areas. The north of England, most of Scotland and Ireland should have a relatively dry day and remaining mild with temperatures ranging from 9-11°C . The strong westerly wind will peter out through the evening and swing more northwards dropping the temperature as it does so.

Wednesday night into Thursday sees the arrival of the first of a succession of southerly-orienated, cold, low pressure systems and these will bring rain and wintry showers overnight into Thursday for the southern half of the U.K and Ireland. Scotland should miss most of this except for some continuing wintry showers across the north west. Now currently the rain is predicted for the lower half of Ireland and the U.K, extending down from the north of England. It’s likely with the cooler wind that we may also see some wintry showers across The Peak District. Tricky to say where the heaviest rain will fall but The South West could be in line for a heavy hit and also across the northern Midlands I am afraid. Through Thursday afternoon, this low pressure pushes south and east and clears Ireland and most of the U.K by the evening, except The South West. A cold, wet and pretty grim day with light winds not helping temperatures pick up much higher than 6-8 °C .

Closing out the week on Friday and we look to have a dry picture across the U.K & Ireland and with the wind swinging round to the south west, we should pick up some milder air as well. By lunchtime we will see a band of rain push into the west of Ireland and north-west Scotland and this will move south and east across Ireland through the 2nd half of the day. By Friday evening that rain will intensify over north west Scotland and push slowly south and east into northern England with some heavy rain for The North West again I am afraid. Away from these rain fronts it looks to be a dry, fairly mild day for England and Wales with temperatures initially down in mid-single figures but pushing up through the 2nd half of the day as the south westerly wind freshens.

The outlook for the weekend is very wet and windy through Saturday for Ireland, North Wales, the north of England and Scotland. That rain may push south into South Wales through Saturday but it’s a real north-west / south-east split with the latter enjoying a very windy but dry day. Showers will spill south and eastwards over the rest of the U.K through Saturday evening, clearing Ireland as they do so. Sunday looks to be a much better day with some rain around across the north west of England and Scotland, but dry for most with lightening winds and some chance of sunshine. Temperatures for the weekend should be 7-10 °C .

Weather Outlook

So the start of next week looks to be very windy with some really tight-packed isobars and low pressure systems funneling in. That means a pretty wet start to the first two days of next week with plenty of rain for all areas pushed along by a very strong, gale force, south westerly wind. By mid-week we see a peak start to build in the jet stream and although this doesn’t remove the risk of further rain through Thursday / Friday, it looks like it may build into a nice high pressure system by next weekend. So a pretty dismal start to the week but maybe a better finish. I should also add that the longer-term projections (yes I know they may change) is for a warm high pressure to build through the third week of January. So still no signs of cold this winter.

Agronomic Notes

2020 GDD Spreadsheet ……

OK, first up and a bit later than intended, please find below the link for the 2020 GDD spreadsheet. Hopefully you found the 2019 one useful and in particular the chart section documenting dry days (or rather the lack of them) that makes a powerful argument for drainage !

I think the 3 charts above are a pretty good graphical summary of our year documenting the warm, progressive start to 2019, the wet summer and of course the extremely wet autumn / winter period. Just look at the wet day stats for October to year end, 69 out of a total of 92 days.

These stats are for York (thanks Adrian!) but I’m sure if I got a GDD spreadsheet for The North West it would make even worse reading for the back end.

Here’s the link…..

Microdochium nivale activity

Just like in 2018, we picked up a fair degree of Microdochium nivale activity over the Christmas period with the combination of mild nights, a lack of wind, heavy dew and high humidity.

It wasn’t as extended a period of disease pressure as Christmas 2018, but it was still enough to see re-activity on existing scars (see above) and also new activity on non-treated areas of approach, fairways and tee complexes.

Again in common with 2018, there were very few opportunities to get a fungicide, hardener, dew control down on the run up to Christmas with saturated soils, wet and windy weather curtailing spray days or even being able to get a machine to the greens to apply.

Hopefully you can see from the graph above the very rapid rise in air temperature recorded on the 26th December. This was the catalyst to disease activity aided by heavy dew and consequently, a wet plant leaf.

From the feedback I’ve had already, it’s a mixed picture out there…

Some who got on a good quality, hardening spray and / or a dew control seemed to have come through relatively unscathed. Those who were at the tail end of a fungicide application and weren’t able to apply hardeners, dew control and / or a fungicide were less fortunate.

Again it was the development of a high pressure weather system over the Christmas period that caused the issue.

Grub activity…..

I guess it is something we are going to have to get used to but I am already getting reports of Leatherjacket activity and damage. The run of wet and mild weather has suited prolonged insect activity, particularly on untreated areas. it’ll be interesting as we go into the spring to understand if the use of Acelepryn has been beneficial on Leatherjackets and Chafers. Fingers crossed on that one because without it we are dependent on the up until now, ‘hit and miss’ and expensive option of pathogenic nematodes. I would also expect to see activity from Biobionid larval species with the run of weather we have been having.

Getting a head start on the spring ……

I always smile when I see the picture above, it is quite simply a cracker (cheers Mark) although I feel for the chap using the Procore 🙁

With the way the winters have been of late, we often see less than ideal conditions for grass growth extending through March and April. It is either a lack of temperature, rainfall or both that makes getting consistent growth and recovery during those months a tricky proposition. It is also often the case that we pick up a run of dry, cold weather in the spring that more or less nulifies opportunities for growth / recovery on fine turf. Of course there is always the option of lighting up your turf with a heavy dose of granular, quick start N should the spring prove hard work but to me there’s a smarter play than applying 40% of your yearly N total in one hit 🙂 

Applying a low nitrogen granular fertiliser in January will give you a very nice result if and when we pick up some mild weather windows during January and February without the need to run to the sprayer to try and apply a liquid. The resultant sward benefit will bring you into March and April in a much better state of affairs and with good sward density and less need to push your greens hard in the spring from an ‘N’ perspective. 

The same goes for aeration, slipping in a crafty hollow core now or perhaps later in the month will lower your surface organic matter, encourage new root development and take the pressure off for the same during March and April. I have talked about it before but members perceptions are much lower now than they are in those months, so tolerance to aeration is higher. OK, surfaces currently are still drying out and I appreciate for some areas of the country, just getting machinery out onto the course is a challenge but maybe, just maybe we will have a nice window later this month for a sneaky one 🙂

OK, that’s it for the first blog of 2020, next week I should have a bit more time for the December 2019 stats and a reflective look back at the year. 

All the best for the coming year.

Mark Hunt

December 16th

Hi All,

This picture tells a bit of a story, firstly that it’s pretty tricky walking on any footpaths at the moment hereabouts because lots of places are underwater so roads are the only option. Secondly, the field in the background would normally be home to a crop of Winter Wheat or Barley by now, but the wet autumn has meant many fields lay fallow after saturated ground conditions have made ploughing and / or drilling next to impossible on Leicestershire clay. This is already having a knock on effect for farmers with income down and yields likely to be much lower because lower-yielding spring crops will be the only option for many, if there’s enough seed to go round. It isn’t just our industry that’s feeling the weather pinch.

Lovely skies at this time of year though sometimes.

So last week I showed the first projection for Christmas Day and that was a high pressure system which kicked off alarm bells with the potential for disease development over the Christmas period ala 2018. Well that high pressure is still lurking but not for Christmas day (see below) so potentially we look cool, dry (ish) and dull for Christmas Day with some wintry showers up north possibly. Looking on the bright side there’s now an increased chance of some of my Paddy Power White Christmas bets coming off in the north of the U.K 🙂

OK, onto the general weather situation…

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees a low pressure system sitting off the north-west of Scotland and that will push some wintry showers and heavier spells of rain into the north west of Scotland and Ireland during Monday morning. Later these showers will more inland over Central Scotland and turn more wintry over higher ground particularly. Away from these rain fronts, the rest of the U.K and Ireland should stay reasonably dry except for some showers on western coasts. After dusk a front off the continent will move into southern England bringing rain to the south east and East Anglia overnight. Nothing to shout about temperature-wise with 6-8 C likely. A strong to moderate south-westerly wind will decrease through the afternoon and swing round to the south east later in the day.

(Sorry for the missing degree symbol but WordPress has revised itself over the weekend and I haven’t a clue where to find a symbol insert button….why oh why do people change things for the sake of it ???:)

Tuesday sees that rain over the south east of England slip away into The Channel soon after dawn leaving a pretty dry start over most of the U.K and Ireland. That south east / East Anglia rain front will lurk for pretty much all of Tuesday periodically pushing in to bring more rain to already saturated conditions. Elsewhere save for the odd shower over North Wales and the west coast of Ireland, Tuesday looks dry. Lighter winds for Tuesday with north westerly veering westerly likely and not much change from 6-8 C again temperature-wise.

Wednesday starts dry for everyone but we have another Atlantic low pressure system pushing into Ireland over the course of Wednesday morning with rain and strong southerly winds pushing into the west of the country and moving eastwards through the morning. Some of this rain will be particularly heavy on in the south of Munster with Cork likely to get a clattering I am afraid lads. This heavy rain and strong winds looks to stay centred over Ireland through most of Wednesday so that means dry conditions again for the U.K until Wednesday evening when that rain front will push into The South West, Wales and the west coast of England. Similar temperatures to Tuesday for the U.K, but Ireland will feel milder in that fresh southerly wind.

Thursday sees that rain front well and truly straddled across all of the U.K with a drier, colder start for Ireland. During the morning this band of rain will slowly edge eastwards across the U.K clearing the west and south as it goes leaving showers behind for it and the south of Ireland. Through the afternoon the rain pushes northwards into Central Scotland clearing the north and north west of England by dusk hopefully. Much windier through Thursday with strong to gale force southerly winds and much milder as well with temperatures lifting into double figures for the first time for awhile.

Closing out the week on Friday and we have low pressure sitting off the west coast of Ireland so that means a showery and unsettled theme for the end of the week with plenty of blustery showers pushing across all areas and some potentially heavier rain for The South East and Central Scotland. Ireland will have less of those showers strangely being closer to the low pressure. Through the afternoon, those showers will merge to longer spells of rain across the south of the U.K, Midlands, north of England and Scotland. Ireland should see the bulk of the showers confined to westerly coasts. A little cooler on Friday with temperatures around 7-9 C and still with a strong to moderate southerly wind though it will drop at dusk.

The outlook for the last Christmas Shopping weekend (hmmm must start soon) is unsettled with the U.K starting dry on Saturday. No chance of the same for Ireland though as another low pressure system pitches up and brings strong winds and heavy rain for Saturday morning. This rain will push over The Irish sea to give a soggy end to Saturday for the west of the U.K. Overnight this rain pushes across the U.K to leave a very unsettled picture for Sunday for both Ireland and the U.K. Showery across the south and west of Ireland and the south of England, Midlands with heavier rain for the north of England and Scotland. A moderate to strong westerly wind in situ for most of the weekend if anything strengthening on Sunday. Same old, same old temperature-wise for the weekend, 7-9 C with maybe southern areas pushing into double figures on Sunday.

Weather Outlook

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that the high pressure projected for Christmas Day last week had slipped away. Well it hasn’t gone far. So next week looks like starting off pretty unsettled after Sunday’s high winds and rainfall. Monday looks to continue that unsettled theme with further showers and heavier spells of rain across the south and on western coasts. This will continue through Tuesday with a higher likelihood of showers on western and north western coasts and across Ireland. As we go into Christmas Day, the winds turn more northerly and this lowers the risk of showers further south but increases the chance of wintry showers across Scotland and the north of England. Overnight into the 26th December, a ridge of high pressure picks up and will maintain that northerly wind direction so cold, drier and potentially frosty for Boxing Day. At the end of next week we see a new low pressure push into Ireland, the north-west of England and Scotland accompanied by milder, south-westerly winds. Further south we hang onto that high pressure and that’s to me when we run a higher disease risk, later on in Christmas week across the south of England. By the end of Christmas week, that high pressure looks to get nerfed out of the way, allowing Atlantic low pressure systems to once again influence our weather, so that means a potentially wet start to 2020. Ho Hum.

Agronomic Notes

Above is the GFS output for the 27th of December and it is probably around the 27th, 28th December that we may see a heightened risk of Microdochium nivale, but mainly in the south of the U.K. As you can see high pressure is pulling up mild, south-westerly winds in a similar scenario to last year, but in Dec 2019 it is more likely to be south-orientated. For the west and north you can see it is cooler and windier and likely more unsettled. So we still have a risk of increased Microdochium nivale over the Christmas period I’m afraid with milder temperatures and heavier dews likely across the south of England from the 27th December onwards.

Spray Windows

The tricky bit is then finding a spray window and that isn’t easy because even with a window to spray in some areas during the first part of this week, ground conditions are saturated making getting a sprayer onto the greens looks decidedly tricky. With wet weather predicted for the latter part of next weekend, it doesn’t look like this situation is going to get any better any time soon I am afraid. Again we have a similar pattern to 2018 with unsettled weather leading up to Christmas and then high pressure coming through between Christmas and New Year. Not an easy situation to manage and you have my continuing sympathies for what has been a real pain in the butt period of weather over the last 3 months….

Fungicide Longevity – Earlier applications should be hanging in there…theoretically….

If we graph out the amount of growth defined by Growth Potential over November and December, we can see applications made in November should theoretically still be hanging in there with a total projected G.P of 8.2 for our location below since November 1st.

The problem is though that most of our current fungicides have lower levels of A.I and these A.I are less effective than their predecessors so as we are coming to the end of a fungicides longevity I think it is likely that they are less able to hold off an aggressive attack of Microdochium nivale. It is all theoretical of course and we must remember that most of the disease outbreaks we see from this stage of the year onwards are on existing disease scars rather than new infections. So if you are relatively clean now you have a lower risk of Microdochium over the Christmas period. A lower risk, yes, but not no risk as we saw over Christmas 2018.

Microdochium nivale disease pressure during wet and windy weather…

As some of you may know I’ve been doing a lot of work on leaf moisture and its role in the development of Microdochium nivale. In particular I’ve been looking at how spells of mild, wet and windy weather relate to leaf moisture levels.

Below are two graphs of leaf moisture taken over an unsettled period of weather in early December and using leaf moisture sensors located in different positions. One out in the open, one in a shaded and sheltered location. The difference is quite dramatic…

If you look at the period towards the end of the graphs, i.e the right hand side you can see we had some light rain and the sheltered location sensor stayed wet continuously whereas the open location sensor wetted up, but then dried down straight afterwards before repeating the pattern again.

So if we have a shaded green with poor air flow this is what we will see, extended periods of plant leaf wetness with a slow dry down, a higher propensity to dew and also frost and of course, Microdochium nivale.

Logical yes but when we have wet, mild and unsettled conditions and you are in an open location, you can see the plant leaf constantly ‘wets up’ and then dries down again which means it presents a much less favourable environment for continuous disease development.

A great argument to support increasing airflow and loosing a few trees maybe as going forward it’ll play a bigger and bigger role in an IPM program.

Ok that’s me for this week and nearly 2019 but I will probably try and slip in a mini blog either at the end of this week or early next week before I treat the PC to a well-earned break 🙂

All the best for the coming week…

Mark Hunt

December 9th

Hi All,

As predicted our unsettled weather made an unwelcome re-appearance after a short period of an intervening high pressure and dry weather. The picture below sort of sums the weather up at the moment, an angry sky and a little bit of sunshine. It doesn’t highlight the saturated fields, full ditches and the mud-spattered trousers that go hand in hand with winter walking in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Still love it though….

The west of Ireland took a battering yesterday as the first storm of the winter moved north and east across the country. This one was called Atiyah and you’ll be glad to know our respective Met Office’s (and The Dutch Met Office) have worked together to produce a list of names for this years winter storms !

Courtesy of The Met Office

I could not help but notice there’s no Storm Mark which is disappointing. The Irish influence is clear though, none more so than Storm Brendan which after his name sake in Cropcare, I predict to be a stealthy one with a strong and feisty demeanour :).

I could have hours of fun with the above but I’m not too sure about blog publishing and libel cases so I’ll desist. (for the time being anyway)

So any more storms for the coming week ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday kicks off with a cooler feel to the weather after the mild (ish) weekend as the wind shifts round to the north / north-west. Today looks mostly dry for the U.K and Ireland but there will be some blustery showers around, pushing down the north-east coast into East Anglia and other the other side of the country, extending from North Wales down to the south coast in a line. They’ll be plenty of sunshine in-between these showers and many places will stay dry all day with a strong north-west wind in attendance. Temperature-wise it’ll be 7-8°C, but feel cooler in the wind.

Overnight into Tuesday ,a low pressure system will push rain fronts into the west of Ireland and these are set to cover Ireland and arrive on the western coastline of the U.K around dawn on Tuesday. This rain will push eastwards through Tuesday morning with some of it pretty heavy across the west and north-west of Scotland. It will feel a good bit milder than Monday as the wind swings round to the south-west. They’ll be a brief hiatus during the afternoon before a second, heavier rain front will push into the west of the U.K and bring heavy rain to Wales, the north-west and south-west of England. This rain will push eastwards across all areas on Tuesday night leaving Ireland dry after a wet day. Much milder as mentioned above with temperatures up to 11°C. Winds will be very strong and from the south-west.

Onto Wednesday and with another rain front stacking up on the west Irish coast it is going to be unsettled again with that rain pushing across south Munster and Leinster. This rain will be much more westerly focussed with Wales and the west coast of the U.K likely to see most of the rain during Wednesday morning. Despite the fact that the wind is still westerly, it’ll feel much cooler than Tuesday with temperatures back to the 6-8°C. During the 2nd part of the day the rain will push eastwards across the U.K, falling as wintry showers across Central Scotland. As the rain pushes eastwards in the afternoon it should clear Ireland from the west leaving behind some isolated rain showers along western coasts.

Thursday sees yet another Atlantic low pressure push in from the west bringing rain to the west of Ireland from the off I am afraid. By the time the morning rush hour starts in Magor Services, it’ll be into West and South Wales and extend all the way up from The South West through Wales, the North West up to Scotland. During Thursday morning this rain will push eastwards on very strong south-westerly winds, still with the heaviest rain affecting the western side of the U.K. As we approach sunset practically all of the U.K and Ireland will be affected by rain and strong winds I am afraid with that rain falling as sleet and snow across Scotland. Temperature-wise, a little milder on Thursday with 8-10°C likely.

Friday sees that wind swing round to the north and that’ll pin those temperatures back down. Again we will see showers from the off but these will mainly affect the north and north-east with some of them wintry in nature. Elsewhere a much drier day after the rainfall of Tuesday and Thursday and with a strong wind, a chance to dry out a tad. The distinctive feature will be the temperature and the wind direction though, it’ll feel proper Baltic in a strong north-westerly / northerly wind.

So what is the outlook for one of the last shopping weekends of the Christmas period. You know the one that started in September, featured Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all that crap as retailers generally increased prices and then discounted them back down to where they were before. The term ‘Pavlov’s dogs’ springs to mind.

Anyway what’s the weather likely to be for the shopping weekend ?

Well, it is an East-West divide with the bulk of the rain across Ireland and the west-facing coastline of the U.K. Saturday sees plenty of showers across Ireland, some of them wintry on the tops. These showers will also affect Wales, The South West, The North West and western Scotland through Saturday morning and with the cold temperatures don’t be surprised to see some of the white stuff at elevation. Most of the showers will be confined to the west on Saturday with central and eastern parts enjoying a cold, breezy but largely dry day. Sunday sees a more general band of rain and wintry showers cross the southern half of the U.K and Ireland overnight. A drier day for the U.K with the showers confined to The Lakes and western Scotland. Ireland should be reasonably dry until lunchtime when more rain and wintry showers pitch up at the south-west coast and push eastwards. Cool though with 5-7°C the top temperature and feeling colder in the strong wind.

Weather Outlook

Well this is how the GFS (Global Forecasting System) projection looks for next Monday and you may notice two or three things. First we are in the cold bit, second we have some low pressure systems close to us and thirdly (and perhaps the most unwelcome bit), the jet stream has returned to a position below the U.K & Ireland. This means that we are back to a weather pattern where low pressures can rattle in from The Atlantic but unlike September, October and November, they will pass through quickly so we will have drying days in-between. Happily though the jet stream is predicted to take a nudge upstairs later next week 🙂

So next week looks like starting off unsettled again as low pressure rattles in some south-westerly mild winds and showers. These showers will mainly affect the north and west of the U.K and Ireland and as we go through the first part of next week, we will see this trend continue as most of the rain showers will affect the north and north-west. Thursday looks a wet day for Ireland and Scotland as we see some heavy rain push through. It is also likely to affect the west side of the U.K as well but the east and south-east could stay dry. Nothing to shout about temperature-wise, probably 7-9°C will be the norm. At the end of next week we begin to dry out as the jet stream is pushed high above the U.K confining any rain to the far north. So possibly a dry run into Christmas ?

Want to see the first GFS prediction for Christmas Day ?

You will, you will, you will (Father Ted style) ……

Well if this turns out to be true I won’t be a happy bunny over Christmas, not that much will change there really as I’m a bit of a Bah Humbug type of chap when it comes to all the festivities. Truly, I’d rather be running, cycling or fishing than sitting down to days of calorific excess. I do like the rest though so I won’t begrudge it all and if its dry I can exercise it all off 😛

Agronomic Notes

So why is the above image potentially not good news ??

Well, firstly it means I will lose my Paddy Power bets for a White Christmas for the 5th year in a row 🙁

Secondly, if any of you have been to my talks recently where I summarised last Christmas and why we had high disease pressure through to The New Year, you’ll recognise the weather pattern above. Here’s what our weather pattern looked like last Christmas ;

So you can see some similarities with last Christmas and the first GFS prediction for this Christmas. Now I cannot stress enough this is 16 days out and as we know a lot can change in that time weather-wise, so let’s not jump to too many conclusions, too quickly. The high pressure is in a different location as well, it isn’t as far north and west as the one last year.

That said if this does turn out to be right it could suggest high disease pressure for the central and southern part of the U.K. The north and west will be in the main wind flow of the jet stream so they’ll be milder, windy and unsettled. The threat as it stands now is for the south.  It’s an early warning to make sure that you’re covered for the Christmas period and if the weather does pan out as predicted, you should have some spray days to do this (unlike last year).

As I didn’t have the time to cover this last week, I thought I’d do a speedy recap of November 2019, although most people will want to forget it as a month due to the excessive rainfall.

GDD Comparison – UK – Thame Location

So November 2019 came in at 37.5 total GDD, which if you look at the graph above for the previous years, ranks it as a cool one. Actually the 2nd coolest since 2010. Significantly it also meant that this run of cool weather had a negative (positive) effect on Microdochium activity, with much lower disease pressure compared to 2018.

You can see how much warmer November 2018 was as it came in nearly three times higher from a GDD perspective ! The other benefit was that grass growth was much lower which meant that you weren’t having to get out and cut wet fairways / outfield because it was growing so fast. On the flip side if you needed recovery from winter wear, you simply didn’t get it in November.

As mentioned last month I don’t think 2019 is going to go down as a record breaker in terms of temperature (though it might do in terms of rainfall). At the end of November 2019, the total y.t.d GDD was running at 1828, which puts it as a so-so year really and 10% behind 2018.

GDD / Rainfall Comparison – U.K Locations

As you hopefully see November was universally cool across the U.K with barely any difference between the GDD in Fife and Bracknell (34.4 vs. 38.5). It was also universally wet with poor Okehampton coming out tops for rainfall at 172mm, that’s nearly 7″ in old money.

GDD / Rainfall Comparison – Irish Locations

Ireland pretty much fared the same with a low GDD / high rainfall month representing November 2019. Valentia came in as the mildest, but not the wettest, with Killiney measuring a whopping 187.5mm, now that’s proper wet !

A quick 5 minutes on climate change…

You know it doesn’t seem a day goes by without another piece of climate change information making the news and in some respects that’s good, but in others it is confusing.

I’ve seen output from the Met Office and other national weather organisations saying the trend for the future is for hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters. Well I’m sorry but I don’t think it is that clear cut for us in the U.K and Ireland simply because of a geographical location.

Recently, I did a couple of talks at Sportsturf Ireland (thanks Damian and Finbarr for the opportunity and hospitality) and in one of those talks, I looked back at 55 years of climate data for 2 locations in Ireland for the months of October, November and December.

Why those ?

Well in my humble opinion it is because they represent the most changed months of the calendar year. That is to say it is our autumn / winter season that has changed the most in my lifetime.

Now, firstly hats off to Met Éireann, the Irish Weather Organisation. A couple of clicks of a button and I could download 55 years of minimum and maximum daily temperature data along with daily rainfall. Try to do that here with The Met Office 🙁

Now I have these ideas you know and almost instantly I regret them because my is that one hell of a lot of data to analyse. So anyway 6 hours later and with a scrambled brain, I graphed out the monthly Growth Potential and rainfall for the last 55 years from 2 Irish locations.

What did I expect to see ?

I suppose you’d expect to see evidence of a general warming trend denoted by increasing G.P over the last 55 years. After all Growth Potential is calculated from maximum and minimum temperature vs. an optimum temperature for cool season or warm season grass species. The graph doesn’t show a clear trend from a G.P perspective.

Here’s the same chart for rainfall ;

Now maybe here there’s more of a case for saying the wettest October’s have occurred more  often in recent years, I’d accept that.

I also looked at the warmest and wettest single day of the autumn winter as defined by the period  October, November and December. This would help pick out extremes of warm and / or wet weather that may have been hidden by a monthly total.

So here’s the years when the top 10 warmest single days of the period October – December for Dublin since 1964 were recorded ;

Oct 1985 / Oct 1970 / Oct 1984 / Oct 1969 / Oct 1969 / Oct 1971 / Oct 1977 / Oct 2013 / Oct 1969 / Oct 2002

So what I’m saying is that October 1985 recorded the warmest day on record since 1964  at 21.3°C on the 1st of the month. In that top 10 there are only 2 years since the turn of the century. Surely we’d expect to see more recent years in the top 10 if the climate was warming consistently ?

If we do the exercise for rainfall the results are different. So here’s the years when the top 10 wettest single days of the period October – December for Dublin since 1964 were recorded ;

Oct 2011 / Nov 1996 / Nov 2000 / Nov 2002 / Oct 2003 / Nov 1965 / Oct 1990 / Oct 2002 / Nov 2017 / Oct 2004

So here I’m saying that October 2011 recorded the wettest day on record since 1964 at 82.2mm falling on the 24th of that month. Now in this top 10, 7 of the years are since the turn of the century and interestingly all of them are either October or November, no December’s made the list.

I performed a regression analysis to see if there was a relationship between the warmest and wettest months. There wasn’t.

So for this admittedly very small sample set, the data didn’t confirm that winters were trending to be warmer for either Shannon or Dublin. It did however suggest they were getting wetter and that’s the take home I think.

So what am I saying about our climate ?

Well, I can’t speak for the U.K as I haven’t crunched any data (yet) but if you look at Ireland to me it isn’t clear that we are on an upward temperature trend for October, November and December since 1964 anyway. There is a suggestion that we are on an upward rainfall trend though for those months.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to us because we are situated on the path of the jet stream and how this behaves really dominates our weather patterns. We know it forms ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ and that these can give us excesses of temperature and rainfall. (either way)

From this little cropped study it would suggest that the trend (if there is one) appears to be resulting in more rainfall, more often than it results in more (higher) temperature.

Chatting this through briefly with Trygve S. Aamlid from NIBIO, Norway (Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi) at a conference where we both spoke, he made a very good point to me. That is that the further north you go latitude-wise, the greater the change in temperature over the winter months. So if we did this same exercise for Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki, we may say a much clearer pattern evolving. (See Trygve I do remember some things 🙂 )

OK, back to the day job and before I get a knock at the door from Greta Thunberg (you need to get out more) for doubting climate change (which I am not doing incidentally, I’m merely saying that for Ireland and the U.K, it isn’t as clear-cut as for other countries / regions), let’s look at Microdochium pressure (sigh)

Microdochium nivale pressure

Well for this week the prevailing high winds and in the latter part of the week, cool / cold temperatures will drop disease activity back to a low point after some locations experienced a peak last week. Good news and this continues the trend for a lower than normal disease pressure autumn. Before we relax though let’s remember last Christmas (not the Wham song thankfully) when we were all caught on the hop. I’ll be keeping an eye on the GFS output for Christmas and not just from a Paddy Power perspective to see if that high is going to make an appearance.

OK, all the best for the coming week, I need a coffee and a lie down 🙂

Mark Hunt








Dec 2nd – Mini Blog

Hi All,

Bit pushed for time today so I am going to make this a mini blog.

A taste of winter proper over the last few days with some pretty heavy frosts, dry days and freezing fog. Dry days though, so nice after the constant barrage of rain that was September, October, November. I took the opportunity to have a nice walk round Rutland Water, most of the time it was shrouded in heavy fog but just occasionally the sun broke through and it was lovely.

General Weather Situation

So this week we have high pressure in charge for the first part of the week but as hinted last week I didn’t expect it to last and it won’t. High pressure means calm, settled conditions with night frosts and cold, bright days. By Wednesday that high is due to be shunted out of the way from the north so Scotland will see the change first. The change will be to windy, milder and more unsettled conditions pushing down from the north. So Ireland and the north of Scotland will see a band of rain move through on Wednesday but it won’t be until Thursday that more rain turns up in Scotland accompanied by strong westerly winds. This rain will sink south through the latter part of Thursday before a more consolidated rain front pushes down on Friday across all areas. It will become windier and noticeably milder as we approach the end of the week with double figure temperatures by Friday for most places.

Now before everyone grimaces at the thought of more rain I would point out that with a higher jet stream currently this means that the rain will push through quickly accompanied by strong drying winds so hopefully you won’t see a repeat of the high daily rainfall totals. That wind will also help both on the drying front and keeping disease at bay by drying down the leaf blade.

Saturday could be the better day of the weekend as we keep that mild, windy feel to the weather before more rain pushes into Ireland and moves swiftly east bringing wet and unsettled conditions for Sunday.

Weather Outlook

Hmmm, now next week looks a tad fruity folks if the weather patterns play out as suspected.

Monday starts cooler and unsettled with plenty of showers around for the north and west. a more general band of rain passes through on Tuesday but thereafter the wind turns more northerly and we go drier and noticeably colder through Wednesday / Thursday. The cold could easily push some wintry showers into Scotland and the north-west through the 2nd half of the week. Some of these wintry showers could drift southwards. At the end of the week we see another Atlantic low pressure push in so we return to windy, mild and unsettled. At the moment I can’t another blocking high which I know isn’t great news for you guys. Don’t shoot the messenger like eh ? 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Last week’s mild weather promoted some Microdochium nivale activity as expected but with some sharp frosts this has now gone onto the back foot. The immediate outlook is for low pressure in most areas but it really depends on your specific locality. Again for me the more sheltered locations could be in for some disease pressure this week as we pick up some frost / dew but our leaf moisture analysis indicates that the sheltered / shaded areas will form frost earlier and it’ll last longer so you’d think this should discourage Microdochium ?

At some point soon I expect activity to start showing on the non-sheltered / non-ideal micro-climate greens because of higher potential for spore / mycelium survivial on these areas. As we approach Thursday we pick up milder air and that’s when the threat will increase through till Saturday. As a counter we will have strong winds in most areas and that should not only negate dew formation but also dry down the leaf nicely. It’s all in that plant leaf wetness dynamic you know 🙂

Looking back at Autumn 2019

Normally for the 1st blog of the month I look back at last months stats in more detail but time waits for no man so that’ll have to be next week 🙂

Here’s a quick gander though at some stats from a central Birmingham location which you’d think would be normally one of the drier ones in the country.

So I make it 76 wet days in the last 3 months for this location, so that’s 76 wet days in the last 91 days overall or if you like it non-sunny side up, 83.5% of the days have been wet so far this autumn / winter. That’s enough to drive anybody to the end of their tether particularly when they are then asked how come the course / pitch is so wet ?

For most areas autumn / winter 2019 provided 3x / 4x more rainfall than 2018, so yes we are wet and likely to stay that way. At the same time as intimated the other week, we have also been really dull, so light levels have also been low which is bad news for ryegrass and bentgrass alike, two species that thrive on good light levels.

Growth levels have also been really low.

Look at the chart above and you can see that we have had very little good winter growth since mid-October. Now that has good and bad points. It is bad if you need recovery from winter play whether that be golf course wear pathways or winter season pitch play. On the plus side the lack of growth has meant we aren’t trying to get cuts in on saturated soils with lots of worm casts present.

The other plus side is the lower than usual disease pressure because of the cooler and wetter conditions. OK, we are still only just nudging into December and last year we saw that even getting to Christmas didn’t guarantee anything. This year I think it’ll be different because of the predominant weather patterns.

So hang in there, stay positive, the shortest day is less than 3 weeks away, then it’ll be Christmas and before you know it the days will be stretching out and spring will await.

All the best.

Mark Hunt