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  • Writer's pictureMark Hunt

January 21st, 2024

Just a short blog this week as I am off to Harrogate tomorrow morning to set up the stand with my erstwhile colleague, Peter Palmer of Prodata. We are on stand 648 in hall 6 if you fancy a chat about anything weather station-related 😊

I took the above picture on the well-known Sun Seeker app whilst walking around a very blustery Hambleton Peninsular at Rutland Water today. You can (hopefully) see the clear difference in the arc of the sun today vs. Dec 22nd (Winter Solstice) as it makes its upward ascent towards the Spring and then Summer Solstice. The days are noticeably stretching out now and already I can see the odd Snowdrop and Celandine poking through to snatch a rare glimpse of some winter sun across Rutland today.

So no agronomic section this week but I hope the rapid thaw over the weekend was manageable for all of you. Certainly today even though the temperature was already up to 11°C, there was still ice on the surface of the fields I walked across. We got down to -8°C last week and the consecutive days of hard frost penetrated to a good depth. It was great to see plenty of that dynamic explanations being communicated out there. Hopefully they were paid heed to.....(you can but try)

General Weather Situation - w/c 22-01-2024

As I type this, Storm Isha is doing its worst, our 9th storm of this year. As the GIF from shows from 6pm today, the centre of the storm will cross northern Scotland overnight but its effect will be country-wide with 90mph winds and plenty of rain as well. So a stormy start to this week beckons with strong winds kicking off our week and rain across the south of England initially giving way to showers across western coasts of Ireland and the U.K later on Monday. With the wind beginning to turn down a tad later in the day, it'll feel very mild with temperatures looking to sit between 12-14°C and I'd add, stay that way for a good chunk of the week. Scotland being nearer to the cold air will sit below 10°C on Monday but warm up from Tuesday for a time.

So with a mainly dry day on Monday once the initial rain has pushed through, this will soon be forgotten as the next rain front pushes into Kerry on Tuesday morning.

Still very windy mind so this rain will quickly cross Ireland and The Irish Sea into the U.K by midday on Tuesday. Windy, wet and mild would be an apt forecast I'd say for Tuesday and still with temperatures between 12-14°C across Ireland, England and Wales, with Scotland 2-3°C cooler. That rain on Tuesday will clear into the evening from all areas except Scotland where it is projected to linger through into Wednesday morning.

As we go through into Wednesday, a high pressure peak will nudge up over Ireland and most of the U.K. This will provide a welcome break from the rain as it becomes isolated to the north west of Scotland, so Wednesday should be a much drier day everywhere, with lighter westerly winds. These will still be strong on Wednesday but they will quieten down through the day. Despite the westerly wind direction, it'll feel chillier on Wednesday with temperatures just nudging into double figures for most areas. There will be plenty of sunshine around as well, so all in all, not much to grumble about.

As we transition from Wednesday to Thursday, the wind will swing round to the south -south west, pick up a tad and with the milder airstream, temperatures will recover just back into the low double figures. Unfortunately as is often the case with a winter south westerly wind, it will introduce rainfall into Northern Ireland and Scotland from the off. As we progress through the morning we will see more rain across the west of Ireland and this will quickly push across the country during the 2nd part of the day reaching Scotland by dusk and the rest of the U.K overnight into Friday. Temperatures will drop as this rain arrives prompting another change in the wind direction.

Now by this point you might be thinking, geez Louise, more rain and wet surfaces but I bear glad tidings (well hopefully anyway). Once this front of rain has cleared through during the 1st part of Friday, the high pressure continues to assert itself and push the bulk of the rain north. So whilst we won't be completely dry, we will start to see a drier weather picture emerging over next weekend. Cooler as well as temperatures drop back to more like the norm for January, 6-8°C for the weekend with maybe a light ground frost as well, accompanied by plenty of winter sunshine. Some rain still lingering though with rain across Ireland, Scotland and the south of England on Sunday.

Weather Outlook - w/c 29-01-2024

So how do we look moving out of January into February ?

Well not bad actually.....

The outlook for next week starts off wet and windy with some sunshine. The bulk of the showers affecting Ireland, The North West Scotland on Monday urged along by a south westerly wind which means it'll feel a little milder as well. Tuesday looks mainly dry as those showers dissipate but later more rain is projected to push into Ireland overnight into Wednesday. This rain will push into Wales and then the rest of the U.K during Wednesday morning before clearing during the day. So although it is a sunshine and showers projection for the 1st part of next week, high pressure continues to build through into the 2nd half and that means a drier and slightly cooler outlook. As we progress into the 1st week of February, high pressure is projected to stay in charge.

Who knows we may get another dry February following on from one of the driest in 2023 ?

Now although I mentioned above that I wouldn't have time for agronomics, I would say this.

'If' and I accept, it is a weather caveat-laden 'if' February starts dry and frost-free as it did in 2023, there is simply no better time to do some early organic matter removal, dilution and / or vertidraining. The image above was taken at the end of January 2023 and sent to me courtesy of Mark Todd @ The Wildernesse Golf Club, Sevenoaks, Kent. (Always grateful Mark !).

Early in the year aeration ticks so many boxes to me ;

  1. Remove / dilute surplus organic matter out of the main playing season.

  2. Encourage new root development at a time the grass plant is top growth-limited so it uses energy to support root development rather than shoot development.

  3. With some light follow up topdressings, surfaces are back to top order by the time we get into March and the majority of golfers emerge from winter hibernation.

  4. Avoid the requirement for more disruptive aeration later in the spring and the need for high N input (kg per hectare) spring fertilisation.

So let's keep an eye on the weather progression for late January into February and if that high pressure keeps on building, get out of the starting blocks early in 2024 !

All the best and I hope to see some of you this week at BTME visiting our stand at Prodata, though I will definitely be heading to Betty's at some point for a Flat White and Fat Rascal !!!!! (Pete and Peter please note 😋 )

Mark Hunt

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