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Hi All,

Nearly in sniffing distance of a Christmas forecast this week but fortunately just 3 days too short to have our first guess at what Christmas Day will be like. For most of the south of the U.K (and Ireland I think) you’ll be hoping for a dry week after Saturday’s slow-moving rain front brought a lot more rain than forecast with some areas receiving over 30mm 🙁

Tue13thDec16

The weather picture is really complicated at present and that makes it tricky to forecast with last weeks mild air now departed but soon to be joined by a fresh peak in the jet stream pushing more mild air across the U.K and Ireland. (Shown above on this Meteoblue schematic for Tuesday this week)

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a slight lull in the mild proceedings with a widespread ground frost for many except the south west of England where a rain front is set to push in first thing this morning. The other end of that front will also bring rain to the east coast of Munster. By mid-morning that front is pushing up into the south Midlands and is joined by another front over Kerry and the west coast of Ireland. Through the course of Monday this rain pushes up into Wales, the north west and it will affect most areas by the afternoon reaching the north and east last of course. The same for the Irish rain, it’ll push across country during the day and into the north west of Scotland by evening. After a cold start, temperatures will rise as we go through the day and into the night because that rain is pushed along on a mild air front. So southerly winds and double figures for the south and west as the rain arrives and a mild, muggy night I’m afraid for many.

Tuesday sees that mild air very firmly in place and again we will see that familiar rain pattern crossing the south west of England during the morning and pushing across to the east and North Midlands by the early afternoon. For Ireland we have a dry start but rain will push into Kerry by lunchtime and move north and east into Munster, Leinster and Connacht through the afternoon. By dusk we will see that rain fairly well dispersed over most of the U.K but since it is a southerly front, Scotland may miss most of it for a largely dry day. Again unfeasibly mild with low to mid-teens in the south of England pushed up by that moderate southerly wind. Temperatures slightly lower in the north and Scotland where the mild air is having least affect.

For Wednesday we have more rain around to start the day wet but this time it’ll be affecting east Munster and Leinster, the north west of England and south west / central regions of Scotland. South and east of this you look to be reasonably dry on Wednesday. That rain at this stage also looks to miss most of Wales just clipping the edge of Pembrokeshire and North Wales to boot during the morning. As we progress through the morning the rain will stay in situ over Scotland and the north west of England, West Wales and the south west tip of England, forming into a tight band by the evening. So a drier day for central and eastern areas and for most of Ireland as well. Again mild with a moderate southerly wind pushing temperatures into the low double figures across central and southern areas and a degree or two cooler across Scotland and Ireland.

For Thursday we see that band of rain drifting south overnight to push thick cloud into central and southern areas of the U.K. The rain will be in a line from Devon, up through Wales and pretty much following the M5 / M6 into northern England. Scotland and Ireland look to have a dry start to Thursday. It’ll be only a temporary one I’m afraid for Ireland though as more rain is set to reach the west by mid-morning and push east across country through the afternoon. The rain over the U.K should fizzle out so some places staying dry on Thursday, particularly across the north, east and south east. A truly wet day for Ireland as that rain will still be sititng over you by dusk on Thursday. Slightly cooler on Thursday despite the moderate southerly wind with temperatures in the high single figures maybe just breaking into double figures in the south of England.

Closing out the week we see that rain that affected Ireland on Thursday moving slowly eastwards overnight into Friday across the west of England and into central areas by dawn sitting in a thick line from the Isle of Wight right up to northern England. Ireland and Scotland look to start dry and sunny especially across the west. That dry and bright weather will follow the rain eastwards so areas will clear from the west with cooler, brighter weather following behind. By lunchtime though we see more rain push into the west of Ireland and here it’ll be an afternoon of sunshine and showers. That rain may also reach the north west of England and west of Scotland by the evening falling as wintry showers over higher ground.  A change in the wind direction on Friday to north westerly and then westerly means a cooler day for many with high-single figures in the winter sunshine.

So onto the last weekend before Christmas and scenes of desperate shopping, queues, raised tempers and fuddled heads. Must try and get some fishing and cycling in.

Saturday looks a day of two halves, wet for Ireland from the off I’m afraid and some rain across the west of England and Wales as well. During the morning this will drift eastwards and fizzle out as it does so, so some areas staying dry throughout. The afternoon on Saturday looks dry for England and Wales, but that Irish rain front will push into the west of Scotland and this will move eastwards through the course of the afternoon to bring a wet end to the day there. A coolish day on Saturday with temperatures in the high single figures pushed along by a brisk south westerly wind. Sunday looks a similarly unsettled start to the day with brisk winds and some showers rattling in across the west and north initially but these will soon fizzle out as high pressure establishes itself to leave a dry, bright and cold day on Sunday with temperatures a degree or two down on Saturday.

Weather Outlook

So this one will take us nearly up to Christmas Day and over The Winter Solstice.

So Monday next week sees us continue that cooler feel to the weather with high pressure doing its best to push in from the east. So I think a cool, dry and bright start to the week, next week. During the mid part of the week we see a low pressure system push that high pressure south introducing milder and unsettled weather into Scotland and the north of Ireland from mid-week onwards. That high looks to cling on down south so I think a cool, dry and settled week for central regions of the U.K with night frosts and little rainfall. By the end of that week we may see that low push down from the north and where it encounters cooler air we may, just may see the odd snowflake. Maybe my Paddy Power White Christmas bets will come in for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast, ahahaha………???? Of course a lot can and probably will change between now and then and most likely we’ll all be walking around in shorts and T-Shirts come the day but as it stands now I’m not so sure on that 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Last week I missed out our regular GDD bit for the start of a new month so let’s kick off with that.

GDDmonthlycumulativeJantoDec2010to2016image

GDDmonthlycomparisonJantoDec2010to2016image

Wow just look at that, a total of 28 days of GDD in November making it the lowest November total we’ve recorded since (and including) 2010.  The contrast between the very mild autumn / winter of 2015 and the cooler one of 2016 is clear to see with only 21% of the growth potential in November 2016 vs. November 2015.  Is that a signal for a colder winter in January and February I wonder, we will have to wait and see..

NovGDD2016

Looking at the different locations we can see that the cold November theme was present across the U.K and Ireland with even Kerry substantially cooler than normal.

Growth and Disease Activity

WS81216

As predicted at the beginning of last week we saw a mild temperature spike that gave us daytime air temperatures up to 17°C in the south of England and night time air temperatures that never dipped below 10°C as you can see above. In line with this prediction from a temperature perspective was the predicted increase in disease activity and this duly came to pass as well with Microdochium nivale, Red Thread, Superficial Fairy Ring and some Spiral Nematode activity noted at the back end of last week.

The combination of humidity and temperature was such that mycelium were visible on fine and coarse turf areas.

Disease1216

My feedback though was that we didn’t see new Microdochium nivale infections on fine turf rather it was renewed activity on the edge of already-present scars. Again this was in line with predictions.

The pleasing aspect for me is that we are starting to get a good handle on not only a prediction of likely weather but more importantly you might argue, the potential effects of that weather on turf in terms of growth and disease activity. Now I fully appreciate rainfall remains a very variable weather parameter, both in terms of when it is likely to occur but also the level of the rainfall in terms of how much is likely to fall. Forecasted temperature however is I think a more reliable weather parameter and although there is variability per location, the resultant growth potential / GDD intepretation is quite accurate.

This will become more and more important in the future because predicting periods of disease activity and applying products preventatively before the disease outbreak will become the norm, especially as we lose more contact / curative chemistries (like Iprodione for example) going forward.

Meteoturf121216

Looking ahead to this week we see another spike in Growth Potential on Tuesday before it drops back as we pick up cooler air later in the week so we may see another repeat of last week’s disease activity though I think it’ll be less severe in intensity.

Nutrition

Depending on where you are located you may have another opportunity to input some winter nutrition if the wind and rain plays ball. Certainly if you’ve applied a winter granular last week you should see a good response going through this week particularly where a high Fe product may have been used. Keeping the plant healthy through this part of the winter pays dividends when we come out the other side in late February, early March (if that’s indeed when it is)

Once we get back in The New Year I’ll be paying particularly attention to January / February aeration slots if they present themselves and it is nutrition applied during December that will help then in pushing nice and gentle recovery from aeration carried out in The New Year.

Ok that’s it for now, next week’s blog will cover the Christmas and New Year period and then I’ll be having a well-earned week off 🙂

All the best…

Mark Hunt