With the loss of all of my Hedgepiglets a month ago, (ripped apart by an unknown predator) nature can be cruel, but it can also make you smile. This little chap sits outside my back door every morning waiting for some suet sprinkles and chirps excitedly when I emerge with a handful. Little things I know please little minds, but I don’t care, it makes me smile 🙂
So the east / west split continues with beautiful weather in the east and north of the U.K and Ireland and cool, dull in the south and east with an ever-present cold north easterly wind that seems to blow all day and all night. And very dry in just about all areas as well.
Last week in my outlook my hunch was that our resident high would finally move away at the end of this week and be replaced by low pressure and that’s the way it indeed looks, so we definitely have an unsettled period of weather on the way with rain for all areas at the end of the week and over the weekend as well. You can see the low pressure system in blue, mid-image on the projection for next Monday above. I’ll be very glad to see the back of those easterly winds, they’re aren’t great for grass and they make fishing challenging as well 🙂
General Weather Situation
Monday to Tuesday are in one chunk today or else I just begin to sound like a scratched record. A scratched record that says the east and south east of the U.K will be subject to more of that north easterly wind pushing cloud cover in overnight through Monday and Tuesday that slowly burns off in the day to be replaced by sunny intervals but staying cool and dry. For Ireland, Wales, the west of England and up to Scotland you are further away from that cold air mass so really pleasant weather for you with warmer days pushing up to mid-high teens and long spells of unbroken sunshine and again, you’re dry. The penalty if you can call it that is cooler nights due to less cloud cover.
Through Tuesday that easterly-biased wind begins to decline in strength and then on Wednesday we see a shift in the wind as it begins to turn southerly so a milder day for those areas in the south and east that have really struggled over the past 7-10 days with that wind on Wednesday. Warm in the west, across Ireland but for Scotland we see more cloud cover push in from the north east and this will bring some rain to the north east of area and some mizzly, drizzle across Central Scotland later in the day. Overnight that brief sojourn from the easterly wind is lost and we return to an easterly theme wind-wise.
For Thursday we remain dry over most of the U.K and Ireland and pleasant temperature-wise in the south, east and west despite that easterly wind returning for one last reminder of its presence. More in the way of cloud cover for Scotland and some of it heavy enough for some more mizzle and light rain, feeling much cooler here as well compared to the start of the week. In the south of England, a much brighter day, less cloud cover and reasonable temperatures. Ireland follows a similar pattern, dry with maybe more in the way of cloud cover for the west and north west of Ireland with sunnier intervals further south and east.
Closing out the week and Friday is our change day. Overnight we see some rain push into the south west of England and south east of Ireland and this rain front will slowly push north and eastwards through the course of Friday morning aided by a changing wind direction to the south and south west reaching South Wales by mid-morning on Friday I think. For Ireland this rain (the first for you for a good while) will push up country from the south again through the course of Friday morning. Last week I was asked for ‘warm rain’ when it does finally arrive and it’ll be mild enough so not bad really Martin 🙂 A much cloudier day on Friday because of the arrival of that low pressure system so dull in the south and Central England with breaks in the cloud the further north you go. Lighter winds as well that gradually complete the east / south transition through the mid-part of Friday. Scotland looks to close out the week dull and cool I’m afraid with thickening cloud from the south. Through Friday afternoon we see the cloud thicken enough to give mizzly drizzle and light rain across England whilst that Irish rain will have covered the whole country by the evening rush hour but it’ll be light by the time it reaches the north. Through the course of the evening we see that rain push in across Wales and England so most places catching some I think from Friday night onwards.
So how does the weekend look ?
Well Saturday looks unsettled, a sunshine and showers day with rain fronts pushing up from the south west of England right from the off, these will consolidate into longer spells of rain for all areas later in the day on Saturday. The same for the north of England and Scotland, rain showers from the off consolidating as we go through the day to longer spells of heavier rain. South west winds mean it’ll be mild though so all is not lost. Some areas may not see that rain until the 2nd part of Saturday and this could include Ireland. Sunday looks similar to me, windy and unsettled with frequent showers and longer spells of rain pushing up from the south west of England / Ireland on a brisk south westerly airstream. Temperature-wise I think 14-16°C will be the order of the day.
Now it’s important to state that along with last week there’s a good degree of uncertainty surrounding next week’s weather. Some models predict high pressure re-asserting itself as we start the week, whereas Unisys looks to continue the more unsettled theme.
So a feature of next week’s weather will be very strong winds as we see a battle develop from an advancing, warm, Atlantic high pressure system and this cool low pressure system that arrives at the end of this week. So for the start of next week we continue the unsettled theme from the weekend with strong south westerly winds pushing rain in across country. More for the north and west I think on Tuesday as you pick up some heavier rain and stronger winds. All areas continue unsettled and cooler on Wednesday as the wind swings more northerly and this will push the rain into southern areas as well mid-week. Thereafter is tricky (and the limit of my projections) but I think high pressure will assert itself from the west later on next week to give warmer and more settled conditions.
It’s all looking a bit glassy out there…
With continual day and night wind from the east and a continuation of a long, dry spell for many, turf quality is just about hanging in there at the moment. Poa annua is either seeding or getting ready to seed so uptake from foliar applications is not great at the moment because most energy is being tranlocated from the bottom leaves of the grass plant upward. Foliars and liquid irons on fine turf aren’t really resulting in their normal levels of enhanced presentation because the grass plant is shut down due to dessication and as hinted above, not in uptake mode. With food reserves moving from the older leaves to towards the seedhead, the former will lose colour giving that pasty appearance to the turf.
With constant drying winds the grass plant will be in water conservation mode so that means stomatal pores closed and leaf area minimised to reduce the surface area affected by the wind, both of these decrease the efficacy of foliar applications.
We will lose these winds by the end of the week and we will have rainfall, how much will depend upon your location, but we will see a reduction in E.T stress and with milder nights that may take the handbrake off Poa annua as we go through next week resulting in a seedhead flush towards the end of the week if that high pressure and warmer weather comes to pass…
Moisture Deficit – How dry are we ?
Ok, this is a subjective exercise because we all have different rainfall and evapotranspiration dynamics but I thought it would be interesting to look at how dry we really are using data from The Oxfordshire because I get rainfall and E.T data from this source (cheers Sean as per usual)
So first I charted out the daily rainfall from the start of the year vs. Daily E.T..
So you can already see the clear dynamic of a dry spring, that is descending rainfall totals as we progress from January to April vs. ascending E.T totals….
I then charted the monthly totals to look at whether we have retained a moisture surplus or ran a deficit in the soil as we have progressed through the spring..
So you can see that even in March we had a deficit of rainfall vs. E.T of -15.3mm but because the previous two months we were in surplus (which is usual) there was still plenty of moisture in the soil.
April really did the damage though with a monthly deficit of rainfall vs. E.T of -63.6mm and this meant that by the end of the month we were running an overall soil moisture deficit of -23.6mm y.t.d.
That trend has only increased as we have progressed through the first part of May with warm drying winds for the north and west and cool drying ones for the east and south and very little rainfall to boot.
You can download the bottom graph as a jpeg here
There’s some really odd looking disease at the moment which to all extents and purposes looks to me like Microdochium nivale but it doesn’t seem to respond to fungicide applications. I’m pretty sure it is M.nivale but I think that the lack of growth and plant uptake during April’s challenging conditions has meant it seems to be hanging around.
There may however be another rationale to explain it….
A Combination of Pathogens ?
It could be that we have a combination effect here with two pathogens at work.
The first being Microdochium nivale, the second, Plant Parasitic Nematodes (PPN’s) like the Spiral Nematodes shown above.(Thanks Kate, Colin for the image..)
Bearing in mind we are in a period of high plant stress then the effect of PPN’s feeding on the root system of a grass plant will be increased. If there’s disease also attacking the plant then what we would expect to see is disease symptoms that won’t readily grow out because the PPN’s and the weather are holding growth and recovery back.
Just to add further grist to the mill at the beginning of this blog I discussed why foliar applications of nutrient and iron won’t be generating super effects on fine turf at present because the grass plant is non-receptive and I see no reason to think this would be any different from application of a fungicide, whether that be systemic or contact (or both).
With the changing conditions forecast for the end of this week, i.e rainfall, south west wind and better night temperatures, we should see the handbrake lifted on Poa growth and that should mean it’ll start to grow away from the disease and you’ll get recovery. It may also mean that the disease looks active again because we’ll pick up an increase in humidity.
You can really see the effect of the change in wind direction and the arrival of a low pressure system in the Meteo Turf graphic from my location in dull, dreary and dry Leicestershire.
Up until Friday we have the same sort of daily Growth Potential that we seem to have had now for yonks, 0.2-0.3, in other words not much of anything.
Cue Friday and the arrival of those south westerly winds, increase in night temperatures and some expected rainfall and the daily Growth Potential doubles.
So if you get an opportunity to make an application towards the end of this week with the decreasing winds, it could be well placed.
Ok that’s all for this week, the Thrush needs feeding again and my Intray has collapsed…
All the best..