Monthly Archives: April 2011

April 26th

Hi All,

General Weather Situation

After a roasting Bank Holiday, we’ve suddenly dropped into a cool northerly air flow which has dropped temperatures significantly and currently I’m measuring 11.5°C air temperature. We got up to 26.5 °C on Saturday and as predicted this sparked off some Thunderstorms, particularly in the S.East / East of England, with some places getting a nice drop of rain and others a mile away, parched, very frustrating. The dominant warm high pressure that gave us such beautiful (and stressy) weather, will slowly move away this week and as it does so, it drags in much cooler air from the north and eventually the weather breaks down over the weekend and into next week with a much more unsettled picture, with the cool theme holding into the start of May.

Regional Specifics and Outlook

This week will start cool with strong Northerly / North-Easterly winds that gradually moderate as we approach the end of the week, lifting temperatures a bit for the Royal Wedding and the weekend. (Not being a royalist, I’ve booked a boat at Eyebrook to get away from it,  though as Will and Harry are fellow bikers and Kate’s a bit of …better stop that there I think, I wish them well :). Temperatures will struggle into the early teens and nights will be cold, particularly Wednesday when there’s a chance of a ground frost overnight into Thursday morning. There is an increasing chance of rain showers pushing in from the continent on Thur / Fri / Sat and these are more likely to affect the South-East, East England and the east side of the country, though a rain pulse on Saturday early morning looks likely to affect the S.West and Wales, but we’ll see. One thing I will say is that rain from the continent is more likely to affect the East of England, than rain from an Atlantic low pressure.

Temperatures by the end of the week / weekend will be middle to high teens, with the lighter winds predominantly Easterly / North-Easterly.

The outlook for next week is tricky again, with the forecast being influenced by a number of weather systems, so it’s a mixed bag.

May will definitely start off cool and unsettled though, with rain showers a distinct possibility pushing in from the continent, so the S.East / East side of the U.K is more likely to receive some moisture than the west. The chance of rain increases as we approach the end of next week / next weekend. Night temperatures should stay higher though after Thursday, with less of the peak and trough pattern we’ve seen of late, so that gives an opportunity for growth, provided of course moisture is forthcoming.

Agronomics

Not the best of times to be working in this industry I’m afraid, whichever side of the fence you sit on, because life is a tad stressy with the short weeks and dry weather.
Looking on the positive side, at least we’re not having to deal with outfield growth flushes during this 4-3-4 short-week cycle, but I do appreciate it puts extra pressure on jobs / staffing levels and what can be achieved realistically between golf.

The high temperatures of last week, coupled with prolonged dryness and now a sudden cooling will knock the colour out of the grass on all height of cut areas.

This colour loss will be heightened on greens by the commencement of the main Poa seedhead flush, which although it’s been seeding for a couple of weeks over here and earlier across the Irish Sea, the main flush will get underway pretty much in the same week that it has done since I’ve been recording it, i.e the 1st week of May.

Plant stress levels are high with the lack of rain and hot, windy weather of last week, so irrigation is key, though the high night winds during the early part of this week will make coverage an issue, so hand-watering on those missed and high spots will be a must.

There’s a lot of inconsistent looking surfaces out there, caused by the growth differential between Bent and Poa, the latter not taking to this dry weather and former lapping it up. Brushing is key as it’s less stressy on the plant than verticutting / scarifying and maintaining a sensible height of cut, when I say sensible, not too low, not high, as the former imparts more plant stress and the latter allows the differential between the grasses to be expresses physiologically. If you are able to get a bit of growth, light dressings are the order of the day. Any thatchy Poa areas will also be showing more stress and now is a good time to point out to the powers-that-be why aeration needs to be maintained or even increased in some cases.

Nutrition-wise, light foliars when the wind drops later in the week to maintain plant health and colour are ideal and if more growth is required.

I’d leave applying the foliar until after the cold Wednesday night, so the application co-incides with increasing temperatures and a chance of rain.

If more growth is required I’d suggest a light rate, quick-release granular fertiliser, working on the assumption that temperatures will be cool and we may have a more unsettled weather outlook coming into May.

Personally, I wouldn’t be applying Primo Maxx on greens as growth continues to be regulated by Mother Nature.

To maintain a consistent surface, you actually need both Bent and Poa growing, remembering that PGR applications don’t affect all grasses the same and Poa is affected more than Bent by a PGR application.

Lastly, if you’re due a wetting agent application, I’d suggest mixing in a biostimulant / good quality seaweed at the same time because this will decrease plant stress levels and give both grasses a better opportunity to grow.

All the best
Mark Hunt

April 19th

Hi All,

Sorry; this time last week, I predicted a low pressure to be moving into our weather pattern bringing rain and cooler temperatures, but unfortunately late last week, the Jet Stream took a hike up north and pushed it over us and into Scandinavia, so it’s not going to arrive. Currently the Jet Stream is sitting over Iceland, it’s the furthest north I’ve observed it and this means that high pressure systems from the south will continue to form below it and that’s what’s keeping our weather so dry.

This Week

The outlook remains dry as weak high pressure systems stay in place with a gradual warming of temperatures as we approach the end of the week and the Bank Holiday.
They’ll be the odd shower around, particularly as we approach the end of the week, but as I mentioned above, no strong rain front. Day temperatures I expect to hit 20°C plus by the end of the week for England, with Wales, Scotland and the North of England, 3-4°C behind, it’ll certainly be a very warm Bank Holiday for most.

The nights will be cool though where skies clear, so this will peg back soil temperatures keep greens growth just ticking on.They’ll also be heavy dews on most mornings under the clear skies. If you look at the temperature profile taken from our Headland Weathercheck portal for my home location, you can see the large variation between day and night temperatures. The high temperatures of the weekend may end up triggering some thunder showers over the South-East / East of England, but for now that’s the only likelihood of rain.

Outlook

A messy picture really with no Jet Stream moving systems across the U.K and Ireland, a succession of high pressures merge over us and keep the weather dry, with the chance of temperatures dropping away after the weekend. There is the beginnings of a rain front influencing our weather from the south from Wednesday-Thursday next week, moving up from the Bay of Biscay area, so I certainly be keeping an eye on that and will update you all at the start of next week.

Agronomics

There are positives and negatives from this current weather situation.

The positive is that with so little rain, at least we’re not dealing with a growth flush on outfield areas running into the succession of three short weeks on the bounce, so courses can be set up tidy, with no heaps of clippings lying around. With labour short, this can only be a bonus and you can save your Primo Maxx applications for when Mother Nature decides to turn off her own growth regulator :). It’s also bringing plenty of golfers out, so the revenue streams that took such a hit late last year, have had three and now nearly four good months to recover, that’s important for all of us in this industry, whichever side of the fence you sit on.

The negatives are dealing with a lack of greens growth, particularly after aeration and maintaining enough growth to get grass pushing up through the sand, so you can topdress and maintain or create a good surface for the golfer. The attached pdf shows the succession of cold nights has provided growth checks all through March and they continue through April, with few days when the night and day temperature has exceeded 6°C. The problem is the golfer doesn’t see the frost on the greens rollers or the fact that night temperatures are just above freezing, they’re out there in their short sleeves, slapping on the factor 30, sipping their iced drink and simply don’t relate to the current issues, they never have and they never will do. All of my family (apart from me) play golf, so I have a close-to-home database of opinion, sadly :(

From an irrigation perspective, I’ve talked about this before, light syringing, ideally once the soil has warmed up, if you can get out amongst the golf, just to keep the surface damp and avoid it crusting off and desiccating surface roots, this is particularly important on Poa of course. Nutrition-wise, the requirement is for light rate foliars, utilising cool-temperature available forms of N, applying 5-6kg per hectare and tank-mixing biostimulants and light rate irons, nothing too heavy to dry the plant out.
Wetting agent applications of course should be in place long before now and these will help the small amounts of applied water penetrate the surface and distribute uniformly. Warm-temperature nitrogen forms like urea and Triazone will work at the moment, but like the above, they must be foliar applied in 300-400 litres of water per hectare maximum and left on the leaf through the day to be absorbed.

I expect to see a return of the purpling discolouration amongst Poa and some Bentgrass with the rapidly changing day and night temperatures, again this is just another sign that growth is inconsistent.

All the best, have a good Easter.
Mark Hunt

April 4th

Hi All,

General Weather Situation

After a simply glorious weekends weather for many, it’s all change for the start of the week as the warm, high pressure that’s dominated proceedings begins to slip away and a cooler low moves in by mid-week. With a slower jet stream speed, this means that low pressure system will stay in charge for a good while, bringing rain, cooler temperatures and a brisk wind over the next week, with an increasing chance of heavier rain by the start of next week.

Regional Specifics

Monday brings a band of showers over Ireland, that move steadily westward into Scotland, the West and North of England and with it cooler temperatures on a northerly wind. As the skies clear behind those showers, temperatures may drop to give a ground frost in places, but that’s probably the only frost risk this week.

A heavier band of rain reaches Ireland on Tuesday afternoon /evening and briskly pushes west as the low pressure begins to exert itself. Winds will swing round to the west / south-west, bringing rain into the Wales, the West of England by Wednesday a.m and the rest of England by Wednesday p.m, though it will lessen in intensity as it moves eastward .  It’ll then be cool, with daytime temperatures ranging from 11 – 14°C and night times from 5 – 8°C, mainly dry with only light showers around for the rest of the week, and a good deal of sunshine. Winds will be from the West – South-West, but not too strong, so acceptable for spraying.

Outlook

The slow jet stream speed means the low pressure will not be moved out of the way quickly, so I expect it to still be in charge next week and intensify bringing cooler / colder air down from the North, with the possibility of heavier rain as we move into Easter week, particularly mid-week.

The wind for next week will swing from the west to the north, so it’ll be colder than this week and at present that low pressure looks reluctant to shift.
For Easter, it’s still too early to say, you’ll have to wait to next Monday to see if it’s stay indoors weather or a bucket and spade job.

Agronomics

After the big temperature hike last week and over the weekend, areas will have dried out significantly, but I expect all areas to receive some rain over the next 7-10 days, so that will mean steady growth with no night frosts and no growth checks. There’s been a good deal of Fusarium around with the high temperatures and heavy dews and I expect this to hang around for awhile yet, but slowly the growth rate of the grass should begin to exceed the speed of infection / spread.

If you have granular fertiliser to go out, this week’s the time because the chance of a rain window is high over the next week or so and with cooler temperatures, a granular will be handy to maintain a consistent growth rate or gain good recovery from any April aeration.

It wouldn’t surprise me if greens lose a bit of colour this week, even if the growth rate is acceptable, this is normal for this time of year and it won’t be long before Poa seedheads become the main concern for many. Normally it’s the start of May for England and at least 10 – 14 days earlier in Ireland, but I’ve already had reports of the commencement of seeding on higher height of cut areas, so it isn’t far away folks. Remember, with the dry March and warmer temperatures, it’s likely that the Poa plant will hit the survival button earlier this year. That said, the cooler weather that’s predicted may just put this on hold and we’ll end pretty close to that May date for the commencement of seeding.

All the best.
Mark Hunt

April 4th

Hi All,

I hope you all received some rain last week and over the weekend, I know it wasn’t alot for the guys in the East / S.East, but some rain is better than no rain, particularly when it comes on the back of such a dry start to the year. I was out mountain biking yesterday and got soaked on the way home, but I was smiling, because we need the rain and I’m slightly barking.

I’ve attached some weather stats, that I graphed out from March this year, courtesy of Sean Wilson at The Oxfordshire (cheers Sean).

It makes interesting reading, less than 20% of the normal rainfall for the month, 6 growth checks with 6 frosts and a top air temperature of 18°C, crazy man, crazy, what a weather month, but not an easy one growth-wise on greens.

General Weather Situation

At present we’re still in the grip of the Atlantic low and tomorrow (Tue) it’ll make one last attempt to throw some rain around, on the back of some strong westerly / south-westerly winds. Rain showers are already in Kerry, Wales, the North of England and Scotland and some will move eastwards this afternoon on the back of a strong wind.

The next rain front arrives into Ireland around midnight tonight, moving rapidly eastwards and will bring heavy rain to western areas of the U.K early tomorrow, with Wales, the South-West and Northern England, particularly affected. The rain should spread eastwards to all parts of the U.K, but again, the South-East and East of England may be a bit hit and miss, but I think you’ll get some.

I do hope so because after this rain, it’ll turn warm and dry as high pressure takes over, with daytime temperatures rising rapidly by mid-week and I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t hit 20°C on Thursday / Friday, so break out the shorts and the factor 30. Night time temperatures though will be low, with a slight risk of ground frost by the end of the week / start of the weekend.

Outlook

Looking further ahead, the temperatures will moderate from Sunday onwards, maybe to mid-teens daytime, but it’ll be dry with light winds from the East / North-East.
Temperatures will drop a little further as we move into mid-week, next week and gradually the winds will begin to strengthen again from the South-West as another Atlantic low is due to arrive. This could bring rain, but at present it looks like being orientated towards the west, the north and Scotland.

Agronomics

The rain and milder / warm temperatures has triggered our normal Spring Fusarium outbreak, with the back end of last week’s high, night time temperatures and moisture, the main culprits. This will be growing out as fast as it forms at present, but if you do feel the need to apply a fungicide, I’d look to use a root-absorbed systemic like Propiconazole, Tebuconazole or Prochloraz, as opposed to a contact, because the latter will have a very short-lived efficacy. Once the high winds drop from mid-week, they’ll be plenty of opportunity to spray.

I’d also suggest that any early herbicide applications will be at an optimum over the next 7 – 10 days because uptake will be at an optimum

Growth is moving on greens now, so hopefully that’ll mean good recovery from aeration and I expect longer height of cut areas to flush this week with the combination of rainfall and high temperatures. It will settle down later in the week as night temperatures drop back down, but we might as well get it out the way now, rather than over Easter and The Royal Wedding (zzzzz).

Lastly, on a sombre note, I’d like to offer my condolences on the passing away of Ian McMillan, Course Manager, Walton Heath Golf Course, who died of heart attack yesterday at the age of 51. He was a respected member of our profession and he’ll be missed.

All the best.
Mark Hunt