131209_gfs_500p_loop_eurHi All,Dec9thSunseeker3D

Well we’re getting within striking range of Christmas and less than 2 weeks to the Winter Solstice and shortest day. You can see how close we are by this shot from Sunseeker 3D showing the path of today’s sun in yellow and the lowest point (Winter Solstice) in blue….So how is it looking ?, mild and dry (ish) on the whole on the run up to Christmas with only the likelihood of some rain in the north and west making spray days a bit hit and miss, more on that later…Can’t see my Paddy Power bet coming off this year either unless something changes significantly over the next 10 days..

Essentially we’re still in the same weather pattern that we’ve had for the last 3 months now, so that means alternating mild and cool / colder spells, but currently we’re sitting under a warm peak (as predicted) and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon, save for the odd incursion by cooler, wetter weather, as these images from Meteoblue show below…

Dec9th15thComp2013

 General Weather Situation

Monday looks to be a pleasant day for most with light westerly / south-westerly winds pushing temperatures up into double figures in the south of England..For the north-west of Scotland, there’s a band of light rain currently sitting in place, but it’ll fizzle out during the day. The winds will be stronger in the north of England and Scotland and this will be a feature of the coming week. Ireland looks dry and for most the latter end of the day should see some nice spells of sunshine…how pleasant 🙂

Tuesday sees a weak rain front push into Kerry during the morning and flirt with the west coast of Ireland during the day, perhaps reaching parts of east Munster / Leinster by the afternoon. Later in the afternoon this rain will again affect the north-west coast of Scotland. Further south, we have another pleasant day on the cards, with spells of sunshine and light, south-westerly winds again keeping temperatures in the high single / low double figures…not bad for nearly mid-December. I should add that this weather pattern looks to be keeping us frost-free for the entire week and that goes for Scotland as well.

A quick apology by the way for spelling Donegal with 2 ‘n’s, that’s the 2nd Irish county I’ve cocked up the spelling on this year, thanks to Michael for pointing this out to me 🙂

Wednesday may be a little chillier, particularly the start of the day, but we look to be dry and settled across the entire U.K and Ireland, with light southerly / south-westerly winds and perhaps slightly lower temperatures.

Thursday sees a rain front push into western Ireland / North West Scotland for the start of the morning rush hour. Later into the morning, this rain moves eastwards over Scotland and Ireland, clearing the latter, but it is expected to push into west Wales and the north-west of England during the afternoon.  Further south and east, we’ll be dry again, with moderate winds and sunny periods. Temperatures will be high single figures / low double figures.

Friday closes out the week with that rain in the west of Ireland, Scotland and Wales pushing eastwards into the south-west of England initially and by the afternoon, we may all see some light rain further south and east, nothing major though. Winds will be moderate, from the south-west and it’ll feel milder than previous days, with temperatures into double figures again for most.

The weekend looks alright for all of us at present, with that high pressure system keeping the rain away, so bright and sunny on Saturday, maybe a little cooler in the south wind, but nice anyway for all you Christmas Shoppers 🙁 Sunday at this stage looks to be similar, maybe a little more in the way of cloud, but on the whole very pleasant for mid-December. Further north into Scotland, there’s a chance of rain coming in Sunday afternoon and settling there for the evening.

 Weather Outlook

So after what will be for most a pleasant week, how does next week shape up ? Well at the moment it looks like we’ll have a blocking high in place that will keep the winds from the west and temperatures around the high single figure mark, so not as mild as some days this week and with a greater chance of frost later in the week. Rain-wise, the outlook remains dry for most. I think it’ll be a little cooler for the start of the week, but as I’ve said before, I’ll take this weather pattern any day over last year when we couldn’t get on to the golf course because it was so wet !

 Agronomic Notes

Spray Days to apply tonics, fungicides, e.t.c

The first thing to talk about is spray days obviously and for most areas it looks like you can pick your days at present, though for Scotland and the west of Ireland, this will be harder because of the rain forecast throughout the week. For you guys I think next week may be much better in terms of dry and settled with a reduced risk of rain interfering with spraying after the coming weekend. Further south we have better conditions, drier on the whole, with only Thursday looking like being rain-affected, For this reason (and another) I feel that you can apply most days this week.

Conditions for growth and product uptake

Dec915th2013Peak

Graph shows projected GDD peak this week (in green) and highlights a good spraying opportunity…

As you can see from the graph above, this week will potentially represent positive growth-degree-days for the entire week in some areas of the U.K and Ireland. This means three things from an agronomic perspective ;

Firstly, we’ll have good conditions, by and large, to get applied nutrient / fungicide A.I’s into the grass plant leaf because the mild air temperatures will be conducive to this. The above graph shows predicted temperatures for a golf course along the M4 this week, ok that’s not the same for everyone I know, but we will have positive GDD’s in Scotland and Ireland as well this week.

Secondly, it means we will also have good conditions to achieve a bit of growth, so if you want to pick the greens up before Christmas, grow out some autumn disease scars, e.t.c this week will be an ideal time, but for some, you do have the option of next week as well (south of England), though I think the lower temperatures will mean less uptake and growth potential.

Lastly, I definitely think we’ll see some disease activity this week on unprotected surfaces with these temperatures because with milder nights (it didn’t drop below 8°C here last night) and some moisture around (ok not from rain, but definitely some light dews around), conditions will be conducive for the formation of disease, Fusarium and Red Thread (the latter on Rye particularly).  We saw that at the end of November when we had a short, 3-day peak.

So my advice (for what it’s worth :)) would be this…if you are unprotected going into this week, keep a vigilant eye out, not just on indicator greens, but the drier ones as well. Include on that list, areas that have shown disease activity in the past few weeks, old disease scars and the like. If you start to see disease or want to put down a protective fungicide, then this week’s conditions will be ideal in terms of achieving uptake, but remember if you’re relying on purely systemic activity, it will take 7-10 days for the grass plant to be protected.

Alternatively you may choose to not spray and use turf hardeners and irons to strengthen the plant and protect it against disease, again this week is ideal for this purpose.

If you’re happy with the protection you have in place, then it’s not so much of a priority, you could spray this week or next, depending on where you are in the country and predicted rainfall events.

With a reasonably dry outlook, conditions are ideal for winter aeration, particulary vertidraining and if you get a touch of growth (I can already see this), why not run over the greens /  playing surfaces with a light brush to flick out any old growth and tart the place up a bit 🙂

When you look at the fact that on this day last year, the soil temperature was 4°C, and today I measured 9°C, we will get a bit of growth and recovery this week for sure…

On that note I’ll leave you to get on…all the best..

Mark Hunt