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Hi All,

I think today is entitled ‘Blue Monday’ and is billed as the most depressing day of the year. (whereas all that comes into my mind with ‘Blue Monday’ is a cracking track by New Order that can’t fail to get your feet tapping and put a smile on your face  🙂 )

As I look outside it’s dark and yakking it down so I can understand why this may be case in some people’s minds.  There’s a flipside to every coin though and at the weekend I got up early and went for a cracking walk on still frozen fields and watched the sun come up. Simply beautiful and a winter treat I’d recommend to anyone, especially if there’s a nice cafe brekkie somewhere on the route.

dawnJan2017

We are six weeks from March now and the days are visibly hanging on for longer so Spring is just around the corner. The first Snowdrops are poking through the soil and I can see the flower heads on my Hellebores pushing through as well, so even if we aren’t in spring mode, nature is 🙂

Onto our lovely weather, do we have more snow on the way or is that Atlantic high going to shelter us again ?….

General Weather Situation

Well Blue Monday won’t describe the sky colour today because we won’t see much of the sun and for most of the day we will have a vertical band of rain stretching from the east coast of Scotland right down the spine of England to the south coast. This band of rain will be very slow-moving so some places will get a significant drop today. West of this band of rain it remains dull so Ireland, Wales and most of Scotland except the far east looks like having a dry start to the week but a dull one. This cloud may just be heavy enough for some mizzly drizzle across the north and west later in the day. Across Ireland, Scotland the west of England and Wales, it’ll be mild as well with temperatures into double figures. Central U.K sits under that rain band so a pretty miserable day here with on-off rain that gradually peters out as we approach dusk and a loud cloud base.  The far south east and East Anglia may just pick up some snow showers first thing but will miss the bulk of this rain though and sit cloudy but dry with temperatures around 5-8°C. Winds will be light for everyone and from the south. With that cloud cover I don’t expect any frost.

Onto Tuesday and we retain that dull theme with some rain moving into north and south west Scotland overnight and then proceeding to drift slowly south into The Borders and north west England through the morning. Mild across Scotland, Ireland and the west as you lie closer to the Atlantic high pressure system so here temperatures into double figures again especially if you manage to catch any breaks in the cloud. For Ireland and Wales another dry day with some breaks in the cloud and mild temperatures pushing into double figures again. Winds will be light to moderate and from the south to south west. Later in the afternoon we might see some breaks in the cloud across the west of Ireland and south east of England. Quite a temperature contrast again with the east and south east sitting cold at 3-5°C and the north / Scotland into double figures.

Another frost-free night going into Wednesday and as predicted our high pressure system is being squeezed between three low pressure systems that surround it but for Wednesday it remains resolute.  So another dry and largely dull day for everyone for mid-week once some mizzly drizzle has cleared the north and west of Scotland.  You may see some breaks in the cloud across the east of Scotland through the morning. Further south we sit dull and dry for most except the south east of the country where there’s a risk of rain pushing in from The North Sea into Essex and Kent and this may then drift slowly south and west into Southern England through the course of the afternoon. Ireland looks to have another dry one with plenty of cloud around and some sunny intervals with temperatures just nudging up into double figures so not bad at all. The wind will be mainly westerly but may swing round to the north later in the day across the U.K. Frost-free again I think going into Thursday.

So for Thursday we see that wind complete its swing round to the east across the south of England and this will have the effect of pushing the cloud away to give a sunny start to the day for the south of England and particularly the south east. Elsewhere we are dull again across the rest of the U.K and Ireland but after lunch we may see some clearing of cloud cover again across the north east of Scotland. With clearing skies in the south of England extending north as we approach dusk we will see temperatures drop markedly and that could mean a ground frost if your skies clear late in the day or overnight going into Friday. So day time temperatures sitting in the 5-9°C region, milder across the west than the east again. Winds will remain light to moderate and predominatly from the south west / west.

Closing out the week on Friday we remain with high pressure in charge so dry and for the south of England up to and including The Midlands a nice start to the end of the week with sunshine in attendence. Further north and west of this you’ll have cloud cover sitting over you but that may mean you are frost-free. So a dry end to the week with that cloud cover clearing north and therefore many will have a better 2nd half of the day compared to the 1st. A cold day though with temperatures not much above freezing all of the day maybe a little higher 5-6°C across Ireland, the west and north of the U.K. Ireland, Wales and Scotland look to have a cloudier day, a little milder though as well with some breaks in the cloud later in the day and winds for everyone light to moderate and from the east in the lower part of the U.K and southerly for the west and north. Temperatures will drop quickly on Friday night to bring another hard frost for many.

Onto the weekend and after last week’s inaccurate forecast I’ll try to do better for this coming weekend. It’s alot easier forecast-wise because we still have high pressure sitting over us so that means a dry, cold Saturday / Sunday is on the cards. Temperature-wise it’ll all come down to cloud cover and I think we’ll see more in the way of the sun over the weekend but that’ll mean if you do it’ll be on the back of a frosty morning. So a cool, dry weekend in prospect with overnight frost for many and a brisk easterly / south-easterly wind in situ providing a significant chill factor. Temperature-wise I’d think 3-5°C where you have sunshine and 5-8°C where you retain cloud cover. I think later on Sunday we will start to see some rain pushing into the north west of Ireland and Scotland as low pressure does its best to shift that high pressure away.

Weather Outlook

So another week of high pressure protecting us from the worst of the winter but will it last for nest week  ?

Well no I don’t think it will because next week looks like being a change week to me. For the beginning of next week we will still have that high pressure just hanging on so a settled start to the week for many, remaining cold though but already I think in the north west, the weather will be changing. Now there’s some disagreement as to the way the wind will be coming from next week but in contrast to this week when things have been calm and settled, next week looks much, much windier. So unsettled and windy weather pushing into the north and west next week and by Tuesday we will see that wind ramping up from the west pushing rain across all of the U.K. Mild initially but as we go through the week I can see those showers turning increasingly wintry over Scotland and possibly the north of England. In contrast to this, the west and south may sit mild with temperatures touching double figures. As we close out next week I think it’ll be colder, remaining very windy with packed isobars and a tendency for those wintry showers to possibly extend southwards.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

With some milder nights in store for some areas of the U.K this week (and actually last night as well)  you can expect to see a continuation of Microdochium nivale activity on previously-scarred areas. The catalyst isn’t just the temperature though it’s the lack of wind and therefore drying conditions which means the leaf is sitting wet for 24 hours of the day and with a saturated atmosphere even when you remove the dew it soon re-settles.

Insect Activity

Leatherjacket

Leatherjacket

One of the biggest areas of concern though as we turn towards spring in many people’s minds is on the insect front with reports already of the now familiar counter-sunk effect of nocturnal feeding from Leatherjackets in winter aeration holes. (see above)

This year will be our first full one without any labelled insecticide for amenity turf (barring a pyrethroid with a 5-day re-entry caution on the label for Bibionid damage reduction) and like agriculture we have nothing to protect us from Leatherjackets, Chafers and Bibionids. The latter may give us cause for hope though because with such a large market potential it makes a tempting prospect for a chemical company to develop an A.I but that isn’t for now so all we can do is wait.

I accept it is hard seeing areas of turf wiped out by Badger and Corvid damage with no real alternative available but that’s where we are. A bigger concern for me is spring aeration when we have a high larval count in the rootzone holding up recovery. I remember seeing one course awhile back with core holes still prominent weeks after aerating because any lateral growth was being grazed by a massive Leatherjacket population. It only became evident after a treatment with Chlorpyrifos.

There is a flipside though to this coin and the truth is that Chlorpyrifos was a pretty crappy chemical and we needed to move on from it as an industry. Reading in New Scientist I see that the next generation of insecticides is well underway using a mechanism that interferes with the RNA of the target pathogen effectively stopping it breeding. In the article it states that “Monsanto, for instance, is developing RNAi sprays that kill pests. Its spray targeting the varroa mites contributing to the woes of bees is now entering the final stages of development, the company revealed on 5 January”. You can read the article here

Irony indeed with the finger pointed firmly in the direction of Big Pharma and neonictotinoids as the cause of Bee decline and ultimately it may be Big Pharma that contributes to their survival if this new technology comes to fruition.

So there is hope on the horizon for our industry but I think it’s also true to say it won’t be arriving any time soon so we have to grin and bear it. Easy to say but not easy to do if the presence of the afore-mentioned pests affects the quality of the product you’re producing and ultimately your revenue stream as a business.

Aeration Slot

Ok here I go again but I will continue to flag up the fact that this week presents some areas of the U.K and Ireland with another aeration slot. Cloud cover will mean no frozen ground and if you escaped the worst of Sunday / Monday’s rain, ground conditions may not be too bad. A dry week in prospect with some milder weather in areas as well and some more likely next week as well together with rainfall.  I know of some courses already that have got a hollow coring in during 2017 with no problem at all.

Nutrition

With mild weather in some areas (Scotland, Ireland and the west possibly) there’s an opportunity in the first part of this week to get a nice response from a well-timed foliar application but as you’ll see from the output from the Meteoturf module on Weathercheck, the opportunity is only present at the start of the week if you’re in an area with milder temeperatures (such as the west of Ireland shown in the top Meteoturf).

The bottom Meteoturf module is from Kent and here you see there’s no GDD and practically no G.P either for the entire week so no point in applying here 🙁

Weathercheckcomp160117

OK that’s it for this week and I hope to see some of you up at BTME in the coming week. It should be a largely dry one after today’s rain has moved through so hopefully no digging yourself out of a snowdrift this year 🙂

Get your forecast for BTME here….

All the best.

Mark Hunt