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Hi All

I do love walking on the cold days of winter especially when the ground is frozen under your feet and we’ve had plenty of that of late with temperatures down to -5.6°C here in Leicestershire.

winter2016

This picture is half way up the affectionately titled “Hare Pie Hill”, close to the location of the very popular Easter Bank Holiday ‘Bottle Kicking’ event where two villages (and anyone else daft enough to get involved) ‘play’ a no rules rugby-type game with a keg of beer. I say no rules, apparently there is no eye-gouging, no strangling, and no use of weapons :). I took part once and ended up with a Doc Martin inprint on my hand and not for the first time I might add, I was punched by a lass (but not a lady 🙂 )

I digress so back to the weather…As we have discussed before this colder, more traditional start to winter has been caused by a slow-moving jet stream and the formation of peaks and troughs. In our case it is the latter that has allowed cold air to push down and influence our weather but all that is set to change with the arrival of a peak of warm air during this week. (exactly as predicted last week I’d like to add…cue a certain smugness and well done Unisys)

troughpeak

So our weather is a changing…..

General Weather Situation

So Monday is starting very cold in most places and if you had clear skies as we did overnight, you’ll be staring at a hard frost on the ground. We are still sitting at -2°C as a type this and the sunrise cast a beautiful pink haze over everything. So for all places today, a dry, cold day with plenty of low cloud and fog about, which will be slow to clear. I’d expect temperatures to scramble to mid-single figures only in light to moderate, easterly winds which will impart quite a windchill. Overnight we should miss a repeat of Sunday night’s frost because cloud cover is due to push in from the west, heralding the arrival of that milder, wetter air.

Tuesday looks to start dry for everyone and indeed that’s how the morning should play out, cool and cloudy, but you’ll notice a change in the wind direction as it swings more southerly over the U.K and Ireland. I say cool and cloudy but for Ireland you’ll already begin to feel the milder weather with temperatures pushing up into the low teens quickly from the west first and then across country. Sadly mild air in the winter means wet as well and by early afternoon we see the first rain into the south west tip of Kerry. This rain will push diagonally up across Ireland during the 2nd part of Tuesday and by late evening it’ll be into south west Scotland. South of this though we will sign out Tuesday as a pleasant day with a milder feel to the air and temperatures pushing up into the high single figures in the north and Midlands, and further south they’ll be well into the early teens.

For Wednesday we have that overnight rain now crossing Scotland so a potentially wet start for the west coast of Scotland. They’ll also be more rain for the west coast of Ireland, but not too heavy with the bulk of it staying out in The Atlantic. A much milder start for the rest of the U.K, but a windier one as well as that southerly wind picks up strength. By the early afternoon that strong wind pushes rain across Ireland and into the west coastline of the U.K, with more showers and longer spells of rain anywhere from The Lakes north. By sunset we see that rain into the south west of England and West Wales pushing east through the course of the evening. Overnight that rain will move east so everywhere is likely to see some rain though I don’t think amounts will be high. Temperatures look to be in the early teens just about everywhere accompanied by a strong to moderate southerly wind.

Another mild night then sees us start Thursday with that band of rain over the south east of England but with most other areas dry, save for some rain right up on the tip of North Scotland. As we move through the morning that rain pushes off into The Channel and we see some breaks in the cloud to give some warm winter sunshine. Despite this it’ll feel a little cooler on Thursday with temperatures only just breaking into the double figures, but nice all the same for early December. So a drier day on Thursday for most areas save for the south east of England initially and a good drying wind as well.

Closing out the week we see a heavier, more concerntrated band of rain pushing into south west Ireland overnight and moving up country in time for the morning rush hour on the M50. This rain will quickly push into south west Scotland during the first part of the morning and then across Scotland by lunchtime with significant amounts of rain likely. This rain band will push thicker cloud cover across Wales and England on Friday morning and some of it may be heavy enough for some drizzle in areas but it should be mainly dry, aided by a strong south westerly wind blowing across all areas. By the afternoon this cloud cover will lift to give some weak sunshine and mild temperatures in the low to mid-teens even down south. For the north and north west of England you may see more in the way of showers on Friday afternoon but largely these will be confined to western coasts. As we close out Friday a heavier band of rain pushes into the north west of England and West Wales.

So how are we looking for another action-filled Christmas shopping weekend ? (I’ll be fishing hopefully..bah humbug)

Saturday could be a wet one for Scotland with some of those showers also affecting Northern England. Ireland looks to be reasonably dry but with a risk of showers pushing in on the westerly wind. It looks to be a drier day from The Midlands down though with an increasing chance of that cloud cover breaking along the south coast. The strong winds though could rattle some showers across the south of England through the day. Cooler I think on Saturday despite the westerly winds with temperatures just making double figures if you see the sun. Sunday looks similar but I think there’s an increasing risk of heavier rain across Ireland and Scotland with some of this rain pushing down into the north of England still accompanied by that strong westerly wind.

Weather Outlook

So are we in for a mild and wet run up to Christmas or have I any chance of taking money off Paddy Power on my White Christmas bets ?

LPatternJetstream

The situation is delicately balanced meteorologically speaking but with the formation of the now typical winter ‘L’ pattern in the jet stream (shown above) I think we have to conclude that the likelihood is for more unsettled, windy and wet weather looking forward towards the middle part of December and the week before Christmas unfortunately.

So next week looks like starting off as it’ll finish with strong winds and rain pushing in across Ireland and then moving eastwards to cross the U.K. Tuesday and Thursday look the heaviest rain days I think next week accompanied by strong westerly or southerly winds depending on your location.  The low pressure system is a cold one so I’d expect some of that moisture to fall as wintry showers further north across Scotland and The Highlands in particular.  It will also be stuck in a trough so therefore slow-moving and that might result in heavy, localised rain in some locations particularly towards the end of next week / weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Since this is the first blog of December for me, I thought it opportune to look back at October and November and see how they panned out from a disease and growth perspective.

Last year we had an extremely mild autumn that meant mild temperatures all the way through October and November. This year has been different with some colder weather and night frosts and so the mild peaks have been very obvious in terms of linking them with elevated levels of disease activity.

The interesting point for me is that by and large the Meteoturf module forecast these peaks before they occurred so we could react to them (just like this week’s coming peak) and that will be very important going forward when we no longer have contact curative fungicides like Iprodione (we have a while to go yet so no need to panic).

If you imagine a scenario in the future when the fungicide technologies we have are either systemic or contact protectant (meaning they sit on the leaf not in it and so aren’t effective on active disease), then being able to get your product down before the disease peak is going to be very important in terms of keeping the plant clean and disease populations down. Weather and disease activity forecasting is going to play a significant part in this process I believe.

So let’s look at two locations across the U.K, one in the south, one in the north (Cheers Paul and Adrian for the data) and let’s see how this autumn panned out disease activity-wise ;

GPOctNovGuildfordGPOctNovYork2

So straight away we can see the peaks of growth and disease activity during October and November with 3 clearly-defined periods at the York location and 4 at the Guildford location. We can also see those peaks were stronger in the more southerly location (as we’d expect) because of the warmer temperatures. In general the period was drier than normal but when we did get rain the amounts were significant.

Why don’t you look at your own location, see when you got disease (if you did) and ascertain whether it coincided with the documented peaks in temperature as indicated by Growth Potential on the charts above and below…

I have carried out the same exercise in Ireland using two locations, one on the east coast, one on the west because that’s where the differential occurs usually. So we have one from Dublin and one from Claremorris and the results are interesting, especially compared to the U.K data.

GPOctNovDublin GPOctNovClaremorris

When I looked at this data initially I had to doube-take on the data from the 18th of November because the spike is so pronounced and we can see the Growth Potential was nearly 1.0 ! We didn’t get that spike in the U.K and it was because there was a warm Atlantic high pressure system sitting off Ireland and this pushed daytime temperatures over 20°C and night time temperatures over 13°C ! Not surprisingly this resulted in some very aggressive Microdochium nivale activity.

Incoming Mild Weather Window

Meteoturf051216

You can clearly see the projected milder weather and its influence on growth in the above Meteoturf graphic.

It’s an interesting one this because my gut feeling is that we won’t see an ingression of new Microdochium nivale into golf greens but we will see renewed activity on existing scars for reasons we’ve already covered. Time will tell.

As usual I’d be interested in any feedback you have on this weather window with respect to disease activity and how it plays out.

It should present a nice window to apply a small amount of nutrition to harden the plant prior to Christmas and looking ahead to next weeks weather, it may be the last spray window for awhile because of the projected strength of the wind next week. With some rain pushing through it also lends itself to light rate granular applications on wear pathways, worn areas and / or areas under heavy play because we are likely to see a nice response given the projected weather. Newly-seeded areas from the autumn would also benefit during this window. Knocking moss and encouraging grass growth to out-compete it is another area of potential application.

Ok that’s all for this week, enjoy the milder weather, hopefully it won’t be accompanied by too much rainfall.

All the best.

Mark Hunt