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  • Writer's pictureMark Hunt

June 17th, 2024

Hi All,

Walking around Fineshades Wood near Corby yesterday, the path edges were full of these beautiful Common Spotted Orchids. I can't remember seeing so many and put it down to the wet, warm spring we have had this year. Plants have enjoyed it even if we haven't and judging by the overgrown verges everywhere , neither have our local authorities because they can't keep up with them (or in Northamptonshire, they just don't bother maintaining them in the first place as they have no money !).

'No Mow May' ....really ???....I mow my lawn twice a week and would happily argue the toss how it is actually good for wildlife to leave it to grow high. Currently my small back lawn and garden is home to 12-14 Blackbirds (mature and youngsters), Robins, a Tree Sparrow yesterday and plenty of other birds, not to mention my nightly visitors of the spikey variety. Grow your grass high and invite Cats to ambush birds, ticks a plenty as they love high grass and a very poor environment for our traditional garden bird species and Hedgehogs. Judging by the number of Bats I have feeding at night, insect populations aren't a problem either. A well maintained lawn can be a great environment for wildlife and excellent from an environmental perspective, especially

vs. being gravelled over or God Forbid, put down to artificial.

Back to the weather, and as intimated last week, the jet stream is on the move northwards and that will finally allow some warm / hot air to push up from Europe, it is long overdue. Predicting when we will receive a prolonged period of heat though is another matter with the GFS and ECMWF projections changing daily. We are in a transition and it'll likely be a bumpy one. June to date has been uncharacteristically cool with some very cold nights for this time of year. As we move to the Summer Solstice this week, some warmth and sunshine will accompany it but maybe not on the day itself !

This week and likely next week we look to pick up temporary ridges of high pressure that'll usher up those temperatures nicely and bring us some welcome warmth and sunshine.

General Weather Situation

We start this week with a cool temperature trough in place but already from today it will be ushered out of the way by an emerging ridge of high pressure. So nicer temperatures to start this week vs. last, pushing up in the low twenties across Wales and the south of England. Ireland and Scotland will be 3-4°C lower and they'll be a growing risk of showers across the north east of Scotland and England through the day. Some showers further south over northern England and Wales as well, some of these may push into The Midlands. Temperatures 18°C sort of territory for most, warmer in the south and a couple of degrees cooler across Ireland and Scotland. Winds will be moderate and from the west.

Tuesday sees a dry start for nearly all areas but during the day, a raft of showers will form across central and eastern Scotland and these will push south into northern England and later, The Midlands. The reason those showers are moving south is a change in the wind direction to northerly. Dry across Ireland and the west with similar temperatures to Monday.

Wednesday sees those northerly winds quieten down and temperatures will lift as a result nudging into the twenties across the south of the U.K. A pretty dry picture for all areas with plenty of sunshine. "Nice"........(Fast Show overtones if you can remember back that far) Ireland will see those temperatures nudge up nicely with a lovely day in prospect. Later in the day, a weak rain front will push across the far north of Scotland.

Moving onto Thursday which will likely be the warmest day of the week with temperatures in the low twenties and plenty of sunshine. Not completely dry though as we will see some early showers across the south east of Ireland and across Scotland. Some early showers across northern England and The Midlands as well but these will fizzle out through the morning to leave a dry and warm day for many. Winds will be very light. Later in the day we will see showers across the west and north west of Ireland as an Atlantic low pressure forms to the west of Ireland.

Closing out the week on Friday and we see that westerly wind strengthen as it ushers in a consolidated rain front into the west of Ireland and Scotland during the morning. This rain will push south into northern England, Wales and The Midlands later in the day. Those temperatures will stay up in the high teens / low twenties for all areas despite the rain pushing through, so an uplift in humidity as well.

The outlook for the weekend is changeable, a sunshine and showers type outlook with more of the latter across The South West through Saturday and into Sunday. Showers across Ireland as well on Saturday pushing in from the north west. These will move across country during the day. For Scotland, Wales and England, we will see some showers through Saturday, more so on Sunday. Cooler over the weekend with 17-19°C typical, pinned down a little by the north west wind and more cloud cover. Not bad though.

Weather Outlook

As pointed out at the beginning of the blog, the longer-term (beyond 5-7 days) is extremely unpredictable with I would say, low probability attached to the forecast. That said the start of next week is looking not bad at all as a ridge of high pressure is looking to build and provide us a warm and mainly dry start to the week for Monday and Tuesday. A risk of showers across the south coast maybe but other than that, warm and dry with temperatures in the low twenties.

As we approach the end of Tuesday, an Atlantic low pressure system will push rain into Ireland and by Wednesday this will be into Wales, The South West and moving eastwards into the southern half of the U.K. This low pressure will mainly affect the southern half of the U.K on Wednesday and as it moves eastwards it will pull down showers on a northerly wind through Thursday, so cooler and more unsettled mid-week, next week. By the end of the week, another ridge of high pressure will build and settle down things somewhat, with lighter winds and warmer temperatures. Beyond that, too tricky to say.

Agronomic Notes

Above is a snippet from a Prodata Reports output for a weather station up on the north west of England near Southport. The North West would typically be a wetter area of the country. I picked it because it provides a nice view of June so far and I have highlighted some key points.

If we look at the rainfall vs. E.T dynamic, we can see this location has had 32mm of rainfall so far this month vs. 49.3mm of E.T, so actually a soil moisture deficit. In the E.T column I have highlighted some 'fruity' daily E.T levels close to or exceeding 4mm of .ET loss per day. I use this threshold as indicative of plant stress, so despite the gloomy start to the 1st half of this month, we have had the odd day when moisture loss will be challenging to the grass plant.

Going forward we will see more of these and it is important to 'transition' the grass plant to enable it to cope with higher temperatures and higher E.T levels.

The rub here is keeping nutrition levels sensible, but not deficient unless of course you want to encourage Anthracnose. The role of plant growth regulators steps up a gear from now on as it is crucially important to keep the plant under regulation, so it doesn't follow a 'boom and bust' growth cycle and perhaps as importantly, can conserve moisture levels more efficiently. Keeping the plant in a 'balanced' growth state will be key over the next 2 months if indeed we pick up high summer temperatures and E.T. Run it weak and expect the consequences from a plant parasitic nematode perspective alongside Anthracnose and Dollar Spot, both diseases of a weak grass plant.

As the mean temperature column and low daily G.P levels show above, the 1st half of June has been a cool one so as I mentioned last week, expect more pressure from Take All disease even if you applied a preventative fungicide early doors, this will be long gone. As a disease, it is an ugly one to experience with large die back of grass in regular patches, particularly (but not always) affecting bentgrass. Rectifying the damage and reinstating a good surface is a long job with only Fescue and Poa happy to colonise the affected areas.

Ok, that's me for this week, I have an approaching Pitchcare magazine deadline (tomorrow !!!!) and an article only 20% written, so time to get my backside into gear !

All the best.

Mark Hunt

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