Sorry for being a day late but unavoidable at present I’m afraid. They’ll be a bit of disruption to my blogs this month because I’ll be travelling and therefore it’ll be pretty difficult to put the 4-6 hours in that this blog requires every week. So I anticipate missing the next two Monday’s and starting again November 30th, however if I can squeeze just the weather side in, I will particularly if I see a change on the way.
I get some pretty strange pictures sent in to me from you guys, here’s two that arrived this week…
This one was sent in by Chris Knowles in Germany, a frequent ‘WhatsApper’ and all round good egg :). At first I thought it was something out of a Jules Verne film and that does indeed give a hint as to its name. Officially it’s Clathrus archeri, The Octopus Stinkhorn fungus. Originally a native to Australia and Tasmania before making the jump (and it’s a big one) to Europe, this one was found growing in his rough. It smells exceedingly foul, living up to its name in every sense. Its appearance is meant to resemble decaying flesh (as is the smell) to attract flies…..Strange….
Another new one for me, this time from Cork, Ireland.
I think, but I haven’t had it confirmed, that it’s a type of Slime Mould, because the colour is exceedingly white and there doesn’t appear to be the usual basal turf damage associated with a pathogenic fungus like Microdochium nivale for example.
Both of these phenomenon are I think symptomatic of the balmy / barmy late season we’re currently ‘enjoying’…
And so this extremely mild start to November goes on, but we all should remember what happened in November 2010. We started the month extremely mild and then towards the third week we dropped off a cliff and went from very mild to very cold, almost overnight. That set the pattern of what was a hard winter. You can see this on the graph below ;
Now honestly I can’t see that happening this November because at present we have a strong westerly jet stream that is pushing low pressure systems over The Atlantic, you can see this on the NetWeather image below…
I can’t see any indication that this will change anytime soon, in fact I think November will run through as a windy, stormy, but generally mild month. So at present no repeat envisaged of November 2010, but weather is a fickle beast, its unpredictability well-known, but little understood 🙂
General Weather Situation
Starting the week on a Tuesday this week we have rain affecting Ireland and the west coast of the U.K. This will be a bit of a feature this week as will the strong winds. The U.K rain stretches right up from the south west, through Wales, The Lakes and up into Scotland. Through the day this rain will intensify over these areas, particularly Connacht I think and some may head inland as showers, blown along by a blustery, but mild westerly wind. Away from these rain fronts I think it’ll be a mild, dull and largely dry day, but there’s always a risk of showers on a south-westerly air stream. Later on in the afternoon, the likelihood of these showers increases over The Midlands and East Anglia. It’ll remain very mild for the time of year with mid to high teens possible.
For Wednesday, we have a similar situation but the rain looks to be a bit more south in its orientation, so principally affecting western coasts, south of a line drawn from Galway across to Newcastle. Through the late morning / early afternoon we will see this rain push into Scotland and intensify over north west England and Wales at the same time. A little cooler for Wednesday as that low pulls down some cooler air into the mix rather than warm southerly air, so early teens the order of the day and still with a moderate to strong south westerly wind.
For Thursday we have a drier, brighter start after that overnight rain moves through so bright and sunny for many. During the morning you’ll see cloud cover pushing in from the west over Ireland and the west coast of the U.K, but eastern and central areas should stay bright. By lunchtime on Thursday the rain front behind that cloud will make landfall on the west coast of Ireland and push eastwards through the afternoon. Again though its pass is more north easterly and so Scotland will see the worst of this rain by the late afternoon / early evening. Later on Thursday night it’ll also push into Wales. south and east of this, it’ll remain dry and bright, but still a little cooler than the start of the week with low double figures / early teens the order of the day. We will still have those strong to moderate south westerly winds increasing in intensity the more north you go over the U.K and Ireland for that matter. Definitely not a spraying week 🙁
Closing out the week, Friday looks to be a re-run of Thursday with heavy rain over Ireland and Scotland. In the north it’ll feel noticeably colder and for the first time I’ve noted that some of these showers may be wintry in nature over The Highlands. Through the morning this rain will push into Wales and north western England to round out what will be a pretty wet week for you guys. East of a line drawn by the M5 / M6, it looks to be dry and bright again after a cool start. By the afternoon that rain will be affecting the west coastline of Ireland and the U.K, with drier brighter weather still over central and eastern areas. I think that rain may only stretch 30-50 miles inland so again east of the M6 should be drier.Noticeably cooler for everyone on Friday with temperatures down in the high single figures so more like where you’d expect them to be for mid-November really. That wind will swing round to the west and pull in cooler air as a result. That change in direction and the increase in strength of that wind will peg those temperatures back.
Onto the all important weekend and it’s getting closer to the time when I hang the fly rods up for the winter, but not quite as I cling desperately hang on to my fishing time 🙂
Saturday looks very similar to the previous week with a dry start to central areas but rain, some of it heavy is due into Ireland through Saturday morning and further rain will also affect Wales and the north west of England. Up in North West Scotland, that rain will again fall as a mix of rain, sleet and possibly snow at altitude through Saturday morning, so winter has arrived here, if not further south. Through the afternoon, that rain pushes eastwards on a strengthening westerly wind to bring heavier rain to Wales and north west England, but also inland as well. Through into Sunday and that rain will continue to affect Ireland, Wales, the north west and north of England and Scotland I’m afraid. South and east of this it should die out a bit to give a cloudy day, but still with the threat of showers though central and eastern areas may miss these entirely. In fact these areas may see more in the way of sunshine and in it temperatures will pick up to the mid-teens, so a nice Sunday in prospect for some.
So how are we looking for next week ?
Looking ahead I can see us losing the temperate southerly air as we pick up cooler spells of northerly air through next week. So next week looks unsettled with rain for Monday for the west and north, fading through Tuesday when the wind switches temporarily to the north to introduce a chill feel to the weather. Later on Tuesday we see a new low pressure system sweep westerly winds and rain across all areas for Wednesday, again with a cooler feel with a northerly wind. Thursday provides a quiet interlude, but by the end of the week a really large, intense low pressure system is gearing up to push rain and strong south westerly winds into all areas. So cooler next week, potentially milder at the end of the week when we get that new low pressure system moving in, but frequent rain and strong winds are likely, more in the west and north.
Disease Pressure – What we’ve had and where we are going with it…
As documented at length over the last month we’ve had incredibly high, sustained, disease pressure on all turf areas. I’ve had lots of reports of Microdochium nivale on fairways, outfield turf, tees and approaches running riot and end-users saying it’s the worst they have ever seen it. I agree.
It is isn’t just Microdochium that’s been active, I took these pictures of Red Thread on a Ryegrass sward last week and it’s the first time I’ve seen it form clumps of mycelium on the leaf margins and leaf tip.
Ok, so we know we’ve had a bad time of it, but how do I see it going over the course of the next couple of weeks ?
Well from a positive perspective I see disease pressure decreasing in some areas as we progress through this week. Why ?, well although we’ve still got mild temperatures over the U.K and Ireland, we also have some areas of the country away from the west and north that is not having the volume of rainfall. Even if it is, there’s another factor present this week that wasn’t present last week, wind. A strong, mild wind is great for drying areas out and you can see how quickly that process is occurring by how soon the roads dry out after rain. There is still heat in the ground (more on that later) and coupled with the strong and mild wind, the grass leaf is drying out much more than it did last week. Now you guys in Ireland, Wales, the west of England and Scotland won’t be in the same boat unfortunately because as we’ve seen from the forecast, there’s a lot of rain heading your way over the next 5-7 days I’m sorry to say.
So in some areas we have a decrease in one of the drivers for disease and that is leaf wetness.
We will I think also see a gradual reduction in temperature as we proceed towards the third week of November and apart from Sunday’s blip, you can see this map out on the graph above. So that means we are likely to see a decrease in the 2nd driver for disease, that of air temperature.
This is just as well because with the outlook being unsettled with strong persistent winds, the likelihood of getting out to spray is quite low, especially across the north and west of the U.K and across Ireland of course.
As you can see from the information above, we’ve had some pretty hefty G.P figures of late and that is really driving grass growth. With wet weather, cuts have been less frequent and when you do get out there, it’s quite amazing how much growth there is !
The rain that’s fallen recently has been during mild periods of air temperature, so it’s kept the soil temperature elevated and that too is driving growth. Below is a comparison of where the soil temperature has been on this date over the last 6 years ;
You can see we are the highest I think we’ve ever been for early November, but as indicated above I expect this to drop back significantly over the next 10 – 14 days after Sunday’s mild upward blip.
Light vs. Temperature – Which one is the stronger driver ?
It does make me wonder now that our days are getting much shorter (we are only 5 or so weeks away from the shortest day would you believe) how come the grass is still growing at a high rate even though light levels are diminishing ?
Obviously the grass plant needs light to photosynthesise and convert light energy into carbohydrate, which in turn drives the production of new shoots and root growth. What we can deduce at the moment is that the lower light levels aren’t an issue for some plant species, Poa sp. in particular and that temperature, both air and soil is playing more of a role here than light in terms of driving growth. It may be different for some of the less shade-tolerant species like Bentgrass and Ryegrass, but I suspect not as much as you’d think.
Enhanced Microbial Activity
It must be the case that with the warm soil temperatures, microbial activity is still progressing at a pace so conversion of organic nitrogen to mineral nitrogen is actively taking place. That’s another reason why I think we’re seeing significant grass growth rates because microbial conversion of N is extending longer and longer into the autumn season. So our autumn growth season is also drawing out longer and longer into what used to be called early winter.
What are the consequences of this for shoot and root growth ?
Well I think the grass plant is happy to make new leaf and shoot growth as long as the temperature remains favourable, but it will be a lower rate because light levels are decreasing.
Whilst we are mild I don’t think the grass plant needs to make much root because moisture and nutrient levels are high, so this favours new leaf production instead. It’s only when the ambient air temperature drops and this process slows down significantly that I think the balance of growth changes from leaf to root production. I’d be interested to know if you’re seeing good progressive new root development of late along with your enhanced clip rate ?
Ok that’s all for now, sorry I’m a day late and will most likely miss the next two weeks on this blog but I’ll be back before the end of this month.
All the best.