Monthly Archives: May 2011

May 24th

Hi All,

General Weather Situation

The last week has been characterised by very strong westerly winds, reaching gale force on Sunday and Monday and making life tricky,,,I attempted to fish Rutland Water on Sunday and you could have surfed on there, the waves were that big, finally Health & Safety intervened and I was hauled off, ho hum. The winds will stay with us for the rest of this week as the weather continues to be affected by low pressure systems.

These are predicted to bring rain to all areas over the coming 5 days, with the strongest rain pulse moving through on Thursday. Last weeks rain by and large moved North-East over the country, so areas from the Midlands south received little (2mm) and this was soon lost in E.T during a warm, windy Saturday.

From tomorrow, a new rain front moves into West Ireland and Scotland during the morning and pushed eastwards reaching Dublin by the afternoon and Wales / S.West by the evening. During Thursday morning, these rain showers consolidate and move eastwards reaching Scotland, the North of England and The Midlands by late morning and everywhere else by early afternoon, clearing at night. Friday looks largely dry, just a few showers around, but it’ll feel cooler on Thur and Fri as the wind swings round from the West-South-West on Wednesday to the North-West / North on Thur / Friday, before changing back again on Saturday, though all the time they’ll be significantly strong.

This rain signal is quite strong, none the least because I’m off in my camper van to Wales, so it’ll definitely rain and many thanks to all of you who have offered your golf courses as an overnight stopping point, such is your belief that wherever I go, it’ll rain :). Still at least the surfs going to be big !!!

For the weekend, a new rain front moves into Ireland on Saturday pushing showers through to Wales and The Midlands, but the South-East / East will stay largely dry save for a few heavy showers. Rain will continue to affect Ireland on Sunday and these showers will localise themselves over Wales, Scotland and the North of England for Sunday. (Told you)

Temperatures will be on the cool side, particularly when the wind pushes round to the north, so Thur / Fri and the start of next week, I think we’ll get low to mid-teens in most places, with the South-East, the warmest. That wind will also push the Icelandic ash cloud our way, so expect disruption to flights continuing over the next 5 days at least, though apparently the ash particles are bigger meaning they’ll drop to earth quicker.

Outlook

Next week continues the unsettled theme until Wednesday with blustery showers, then finally those winds start to drop as a high pressure system moves into Ireland and the rest of the U.K picking up temperatures dramatically. By the end of next week, I can see it being warm to very warm, with temperatures in the low twenties at least, possibly higher.

Agronomics

The south and east of the U.K is still extremely dry, despite the unsettled theme over the last week or so and that means irrigation management is key.
This run of weather just hasn’t suited Perennial Poa (Poa annua var. reptans) and it stubbornly refuses to grow in most cases, unless nutrient inputs are light and regular (every 10 days). Depending on your cutting height, and ability to brush and topdress, maintaining a good surface has been and remains tricky, though at least the seedhead flush is on the wane. For the moment, I’d continue to suggest leaving off verticutting, scarifying, Graden work unless your sward is of good vigour and growth.

As we push out of May into June, that’s normally the time of year when night temperatures begin to stabilise, removing the hand brake off greens growth. That said, we do need more moisture than we’ve currently been receiving and nowhere is this more acute than in the East of England, but let’s hope Thursday’s rain manages to reach the east, I think it will.

The rain will kick off some Fusarium and Fairy Ring activity and since the dry, stressy weather is now in the prolonged stage, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Anthracnose making an appearance in June, i.e a month earlier than usual. Light rate, cool-temperature available foliars remain the way to go, with iron to maintain colour, but application conditions aren’t ideal with the strong winds of late. The rain should kick into play, previously applied granular fertilisers, which up until now have been pretty ineffective regardless of formulation.

I’m away next week, so won’t be able to do an update until w/c June 6th, but in the meantime, I wish you all a good Bank Holiday.

All the best.
Mark Hunt

May 18th

Hi All,

Sorry for not making this earlier in the week, been flat out and also waiting to see how the weather shaped up.

General Weather Situation

At present, we have an Atlantic low pressure system feeding cool, showery weather over the Northern counties of Ireland, the North of England and Scotland, whilst the south and South-West remain dry and warm. Rainfall will be light as it moves South-East across the U.K, barely enough to wet the ground in places, but at least it will keep the E.T down , but as the winds lighten later, temperatures will drop considerably tonight giving a cool / cold one for many.

This sets a pattern for the next 10 days really, as low pressure is in charge over Ireland, the North of England and Scotland in a diagonal line from Newport in Wales across to The Wash. Above that line, it’ll be cool, with frequent showers, below that it’ll be warmer and largely dry. (Cue collective groan – sorry lads)

Thursday will be largely dry, with lighter West – South-Westerly winds and they’ll offer a welcome relief to the battering of the last week or so, but as we approach the end of the week, the winds will strengthen again from the South-West as a new area of low pressure sweeps showers into Kerry and Sligo on Friday late morning and these move across Ireland, lightening in intensity as they go.

A new rain band reaches Kerry on Saturday morning and this stronger rain pulse is projected to push into the South-West of England, Wales, Scotland and the rest of England during the course of Sunday early morning, again lightening as it moves eastwards, so who knows how much the east coast will get. With the rain comes a cooler feel as the winds nip round to the North / North-West and again as they drop at night, so will the temperature for Sunday night.

Outlook

Looking further ahead, this pattern of cooler, wetter weather and North-West wind, alternating with warmer, South-West winds looks set to repeat itself for next week, with Monday and Tuesday cool and mid-week onwards feeling a good bit warmer with further rain for the north of Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland through the week.
This rain looks to extend southwards in the latter part of next week, but since it’s part of an Atlantic low, how far south and east it gets is anyone’s guess and as we know by now, you wouldn’t bet a lunch on it :P. Thereafter, high pressure looks to build again with a high jetstream, the outlook looks to remain dry after this unsettled period.

Agronomic Situation

As May invariably can be, the weather is unsettled, with cold nights holding back growth, though in areas that have received some rainfall, growth will be good on all heights of cut. For the North of England and Scotland, it’s definitely a granular fertiliser, orientated weather pattern with the cooler, wetter weather.

For the south, it’s business as usual, keeping the plant ticking with light rate foliars, using iron to maintain sward colour and light grooming, brushing and dressing to maintain a good, consistent surface. Soil temperatures are sitting around 13°C here, so they’re good enough for growth, but that also depends on plant stress levels and rainfall.

Poa seedheads are still very much in evidence, though new seedheads will start to decline in number in a week or two.

Disease-wise, there’s plenty of light, foliar Fusarium around, especially in those areas that have received some rain and with the mild night, last night and a warm spell next week, mid-week, this will increase in intensity. As usual my advice would be not to spray if your plant is healthy and the clip rate is good, far better to save your money, but as always, its your call. Fairy rings are in evidence, but largely inhibited by the lack of rainfall, which continues to dominate the management practices of us all. On that subject, Glenn Rayfield, Course Manager of Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club emailed recently to inform me that up to the 10th May, they’d received 2mm of rain since the first of March, that’s pretty dire Glenn, I hope you pick up some of these showers.

All the best.
Mark Hunt

May 10th

Hi All,

General Weather Situation

Last weekend’s predicted rain arrived, much to everyone’s relief, I’m aware some areas got more than others, with parts of the South-East only getting 7-8mm and other areas, like here in the Midlands of England, we got 26mm. I got up at 4 a.m on Saturday morning to watch its progress on the Headland Weathercheck Meteoblue radar such was my anticipation (sad I know), but it was spot on time, with the main front arriving on Saturday night / Sunday morning.

We’re now into a more unsettled spell of weather with sunshine and showers the order of the day for at least the next week or so as the low pressure that brought this rain gets stuck (no jet stream to move it on) over the U.K and pushes in cooler and wetter weather for all. The wind direction will change from the warm southerly air stream to first westerly and then the North-West / North direction from mid / late week and that’s what will peg those temperatures down.

Regional Specifics and Outlook

Starting off today, we have a bunch of rain showers already into Kerry, Claire and Sligo on the west coast of Ireland and these will track west across Northern England and Scotland later in the day with a narrower line of showers also affecting the South-West and Midlands of England this evening.

Tomorrow sees another band of rain showers affecting Scotland and the South of England and as the wind direction changes to a more northerly airflow, this will push showers down from Scotland on Thursday into the rest of England, but probably only reaching as far south as the Midlands by close of play.

As the north winds strengthen, the rain showers will become more widespread, with plenty of heavy showers moving south from the start of Friday, affecting all of the U.K and Ireland. Temperatures will be alot cooler than of late, so expect 12-15°C daytime and if the skies clear, they’ll dip to 4-6°C by the end of the week during the night.

The weekend looks at present like being cool and soggy, with a concentrated rain front affecting all areas of the U.K and Ireland on Saturday and the same for Sunday, with only the morning looking dry.

Looking further ahead, this low pressure is well and truly stuck over the U.K, so I expect the pattern of cooler and showery weather to continue into and for all of next week, with winds strengthening from the west mid-week next week, pulling both day and night time temperatures up.

Agronomics

The advent of moisture has already initiated a growth flush on outfield areas with the warm temperatures of Sunday and Monday contributing to this.

This growth flush will slow down as day and night temperatures drop, so it should be manageable from mid-week onwards.

Along with the growth, there’s a good amount of Fusarium about, but hopefully the rate of growth will be enough to prevent this causing sward damage and scarring at this stage of the year. I’d also expect Fairy Rings to show themselves from this week onwards as the moisture and temperature kicks off fungal growth.

Turf looks washed out at present as the plant begins slowly to come out of drought stress and of course, Poa continues to seed dramatically.

With the flush of growth and the arrival of natural moisture, the turf looks puffy in appearance as the leaf fills itself with water, but this will settle down as the plant stabilises this week. Personally I wouldn’t be hacking into it with verticutters with any depth on, just level grooming to tidy up the sward and take out those seedheads and light topdressings to maintain surface integrity. This pale appearance won’t be helped by the cooler weather later in the week but in essence it’s a good thing because E.T levels will drop, plant stress levels likewise and growth will tick on nicely, without being out of control on outfield areas. Let’s also bless the fact that the rain didn’t arrive during the 4-3-4 day week of late.

For those of you who have already applied PGR’s, I’d suggest basing your next application time from when the moisture arrived, i.e last weekend, rather than when you actually applied the PGR because precious little will have happened prior to the weekend as growth and therefore uptake was at a standstill.

As you know I’m not a fan of full rate PGR use on greens till we get to the end of this month and you can see why when we have weather like this in May.

Iron will be a very useful tool over the next 10 days for all areas to maintain colour and this spell of unsettled weather will also suit granular fertiliser applications.

Any foliar or liquid tonics on greens should be using cool temperature nitrogen forms in the main, so sulphate of ammonia, potassium nitrate, etc, but on longer, outfield areas, I’d be happy using urea-based products no problem, but tankmixed with iron as this will provide the colour while the nitrogen is being converted.

That said, it’s a tricky time to spray at the moment with the blustery winds and rain showers so the spray window will be tight for many.

So it’s all change, April showers in May, but personally I think this month is England’s best, everything looks so fresh, the Hawthorn and Keck is out in all its grandeur and last night when I was mountain biking you could almost feel the handbrake on growth being let off all around you, enjoy.

All the best.
Mark Hunt

May 3rd

Hi All,

General Weather Situation

Well, that was April and in a sentence, it was dry and warm, with the emphasis on the dry part. Last weekends promised showers fell victim to that strengthening easterly wind, which pushed them along the South Coast, instead of allowing them to move up country, frustrating when on Thursday morning we’re in line for a projected 15mm + on Friday / Saturday and by Thursday lunchtime, it’s gone. Like I said, the weather has been pretty mixed up of late, with no definable jet stream, so it’s changing on a daily basis and that makes forecasting difficult, particularly for an amateur like me :(.

The real feature of the weather over the past week has been that super-strong easterly wind and the brightness of the sun, yesterday was the first day I actually saw a cloud for the past 4 days! I’ve attached some stats of March / April and a summary of the year so far rainfall-wise, which shows that we’re currently running at a rainfall deficit of 4 inches, in other words, 8.5 inches of rain has evaporated from the soil and the plant since January 1st, 2011 and this has been replaced with just over 4.5 inches of rainfall.(See attached technical article on E.T if you’re interested)

Alot of lakes and reservoirs need a top up if we’re to get through the summer without restrictions on water usage, one of my local reservoirs is currently 5ft lower than normal for this time of year.

Regional Specifics and Outlook

That easterly wind will slowly lessen in intensity during today and with the decreasing wind strength, temperatures will drop quickly once the sun goes down.
There’s the risk of a ground frost tomorrow from Scotland down to around the M4, but Ireland should escape this. The winds will swing round to the south from Wed / Thur and they’ll strengthen in intensity as a nearby Atlantic low begins to influence our weather. Currently this system is sitting out in the Atlantic and it’s the one I referred to last week as providing the potential for rainfall at the end of this week / weekend. It all hinges on the jet stream because if this strengthens as predicted at the weekend, it will push this low across the U.K and we’ll all receive rain, if it doesn’t, we won’t.

The cold nights of the early part of this week will gradually fade as night and day temperatures pick up from Thursday onwards and by the end of the week, first part of the weekend, we’ll be truly warm again with temperatures hitting 20°C in England and a few degrees below that in Scotland and Ireland.

Rainfall-wise, Ireland will be the first to receive rain (if everything stays on track), with a front moving into Kerry and Clare on Wednesday morning and pushing across the country during the day, showers will continue from then on, with rain moving into the South-West and Wales / North England and Scotland through Thursday p.m.
For the South-East / Midlands / East of the U.K, if we’re going to get significant rain it will be from Saturday afternoon / evening onwards and continuing through Sunday, though some thundery showers may zip across before that. Like I said, it all hinges on the jet stream pulse at the end of the week shifting that low our way, so fingers crossed.

Agronomics

Growth has slowed down on greens again with the colder nights and drying winds and as suggested last week, coverage of irrigation systems has been an issue because easterly winds have a habit of staying strong through the night and this has been the case. With the short weeks, time for hand-watering and syringing has not been available, so the wise will have cranked up their irrigation systems on greens to keep stress at bay.

Poa is seeding well, but the Poa reptans is just not growing at the moment and won’t do until the rain arrives, so let’s hope it does and we can all get back into a greens growth period. I’d expect a strong growth flush from outfield areas if we do get rain, with Monday morning being particularly notable and I’m amazed at how well they still look despite the lack of rain.

Nutrition-wise, I’d be looking at the Thursday as the ideal time to pick up colour on greens surfaces, once the night temperature pick up, though it’ll be breezy if the low pressure arrives, so tricky really from a spray window perspective.

Ok that’s it, all the best.
Mark Hunt