Monthly Archives: February 2012

February 27th

Hi All,

I think February is going to end as a very dry month and not what the doctor ordered for The Midlands, The South and East of England. There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to the blocking high pressure that’s keeping the rain away from us and this will mean close to 7 months now of pretty much the same pattern of weather.

General Weather Situation

Today we have a weak rain front moving down the U.K bringing light showers to Scotland, The North and Wales, but amounts are light. Elsewhere a dull day on the whole, with a chance of sunshine in East Leinster and the east coast of England, but don’t hold your breath. This dull theme is likely to set the scene for the week with a lot of low cloud cover during the day, but at least it’s going to keep night temperatures up, so no risk of frost until the weekend it seems. Tuesday will start off brighter over England, but cloud will build through the day to leave only isolated clear areas, mainly on the east / south-east coast. Temperatures will be pleasant though sitting around the low to mid-teens and winds will be light from the west / south-west.  Wednesday sees a repeat of this pattern, with lighter winds and maybe feeling a little cooler. A weak rain front moves into the west coast of Ireland for Thursday, principally affecting Connacht and Munster from the early hours, but later in the day it’ll move eastwards across Ireland, again amounts will be light. Friday sees a much stronger band of rain push into Ireland by lunchtime and move eastwards during the afternoon, evening, amounts will be heavier this time. For the U.K, it’ll be mainly dry, but feeling cooler with a chance of frost in Scotland and The North. By Saturday this rain will have cleared Ireland and will have reached the west / south-west coast of England, so a wet start to the weekend here, although the band width is narrow, so it’ll soon move through. As the rain moves eastwards it dies out, so whether we’ll get it in The Midlands remains to be seen.  Sunday looks like being a dry day, possibly with a frosty start. The forecast for the end of the weekend is difficult to predict because we have a low pressure moving in and this may influence the weather on Sunday, but how is a little uncertain.

Outlook

If the low pressure stays on track, the start of next week will be wet for Ireland, Scotland and The North of England and there’s just a chance that the rain will push further southwards through Monday and Tuesday. It’ll feel cooler as the wind strengthens from The North, but not cold mind. Again we have that blocking high in place, so don’t expect much rain unless the pattern changes. The risk of frost will also be low as wind and cloud cover keep temperatures up.

Agronomic Notes

As we move into March, it’s the lack of moisture that will start to be an issue for those in the drought-affected areas, so it’s a good idea to kit yourself out on this premise. That means getting your irrigation system up and running early, checking for bursts and sprinkler coverage and optimising the water that you will have available. For dry fairways, if budget is available,  I’d be applying a penetrant wetter so that any rain that is forthcoming will be utilised to the full, rather than just shed off the surface. On greens I’d be doing the same, getting my wetting agent program started early in March if conditions allow.

Utilising biostimulants in conjunction with the above is also worthwhile because of their stress suppression benefits and often they can be tank-mixed with your wetting agent to save time.

Whilst we’re in this type of weather pattern, you have to pick your moments of applying a granular fertiliser, particularly on outfield areas where there’s no irrigation. On greens I’d work with foliar’s to take advantage of the mild air temperatures and use these to move the greens on growth-wise prior to aeration and / or to maintain colour and density. So keep water volumes down to 400L maximum and only apply light amounts (6kg / N/ Ha)  of readily-available N in a ‘little, but often’ pattern.

Disease pressure should be low, but there is a smattering of Fusarium around at present, though I think the dry conditions will largely keep that in check.

All the best

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

February 20th

Hi All,

What a difference a week makes, last weekend severe frost and snow, last week mild until a cold blip mid-way through Saturday.  Even today, the sun was out and it seemed almost spring-like, and later on this week, it’ll be truly barmy as we hit mid-teens on Thursday / Friday. Soil temperatures are on the increase and although they’ve been up for a while in Ireland, last week they shot up from 2°C to 8°C over the space of three days.

General Weather Situation

At present we have a short-lived cold spell, courtesy of some northerly winds, but these will soon move off to be replaced by warm winds from our resident high sitting off the south-coast of the U.K. So for Monday, the winds will swing round to the west after an overnight frost, strengthen and it’ll feel immediately milder. This sets the tone for the week – mild, westerly, drying winds lasting all the way to the weekend, when it looks to get cooler again unfortunately.

Rainfall-wise, the rain will mainly be orientated to the north and west of the U.K and Ireland, with the first rain front reaching Scotland, Northern Ireland, Sligo, North-Mayo on Monday lunchtime and this will push down into northern England later in the day. Tuesday is a similar picture, sunshine and showers with that rain now affecting Wales, the west coast of the U.K, and Ireland, but I expect it to be blustery showers, rather than heavy, prolonged rain. Wednesday sees a much more consolidated rain-front reach Ireland and push across to affect all of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Northern England during the day and there’s every chance it’ll reach The Midlands and further south later in the day. Thursday looks drier and more settled and I expect it to feel mild, even warm across the south-west and south coast of England (Break out the factor 30). Elsewhere it’ll be noticeably milder on Thursday and Friday with some sunshine and dry.

Outlook

As already mentioned, next weekend looks at this stage to be cooler as the winds once again whip around to the north-west and take the heat out of the temperatures, so I expect high single figures / low double figures, but at this stage it looks like staying dry. This cool blip is short-lived because it looks like going mild again on Sunday with westerly winds prevailing for the start of w/c 27th February.  As we head into March, I think high pressure will be in charge, so dry, but possibly cool at night with frosts.

Agronomic Notes

A lot to talk about this week….

Firstly, a note of caution, keep an eye on disease levels at the end of the week, even if you’ve been clean through the whole winter. I’ve known it before that the first onset of warm weather really ramps up Fusarium activity.

Secondly, this will be a good week to make a start on Spring work, so applying iron products to moss on all areas of the golf course and getting down a liquid tonic on greens are worth a shout this week. I wouldn’t be adverse to a light topdressing either, particularly if you have holes left from pre-snow / frost verti-draining, all grist to the mill in my books.

Brushing has to be on the cards as well, this being particularly effective at flicking out old, dead growth and cleaning up the sward. It can also remove some of that surface algae, if its dried up prior to brushing.

Chafer Grubs

If you have pecking activity and many people do, it may be worth applying a treatment prior to the expected rain mid-week. That said, I’d hope that the Corvids disperse as more food becomes available over a wider area. Last week I was in Ireland and watched Choughs work down a fairway looking for grubs, it made a change from Crows and Rooks, not that they were any more welcome though. I don’t claim to be an expert on insect life-cycles, but I was amazed to see immature Chafer Grubs last week right close to the surface only 2-3 days after snow cover and frost had gone out of the ground.

Enjoy your week..

Mark Hunt

 

February 13th

Hi All,

What an interesting time we’re having weather-wise with Ireland sitting with soil temperatures at 9.0°C (thanks Aine :), meanwhile we’ve been locked in snow and frost for a couple of weeks now. Saturday served up one of the most beautiful days I’ve ever seen here in Market Harborough, we had a thick Hoar frost and everything was sparkling white, set against a backdrop of blue sky and snow on the ground. The air was so dry and cold it took your breath away, amazing…I went mountain-biking, but I had to keep stopping to take in the sights, plus my gears froze up in top (knackering), as did my Camelback, awesome.I am however pleased to say that the thaw is well and truly underway today with air temperatures of 5°C and looking at the week ahead, that’ll be it for severe frost for the time-being.

General Weather Situation

For this week we have our resident Atlantic high pressure sitting out over Ireland and feeding north air down across the U.K and Ireland, but because the source of the air is relatively mild, temperatures will be much higher than of late. The other difference will be the wind strength, which has been pretty absent lately, whipping up from early doors Monday and pulling in cloud cover. So Monday should be dry, dull, with the odd light shower for the west mainly, pushed in on blustery north winds. The exception is the south-east corner of the U.K where a continental rain front will push over and bring rain through the day from early morning.Tuesday looks similar, drier for the south-east, but with more gaps in the cloud and for some that may mean sunny intervals. Temperatures pick up a bit mid-week and push into the high single figures, positively tropical compared to late as the winds move round to the north-west and remain blustery. By Thursday a band of rain pushes into Scotland and Connacht and slowly moves south into Northern England during the afternoon, reaching the west coast of Ireland by the evening. Again it’ll feel mild. Overnight that rain may push down into The Midlands and the west of England / Wales. These showers of rain will continue over Ireland, Scotland and the north primarily on Friday, some of them will move inland. Later on Friday temperatures will begin to drop back, particularly in Scotland and the north of England as more moisture moves down and brings colder air from a Scandinavian low pressure into play. These showers will fall as sleet and snow over higher ground in Scotland and The North, but England, Wales and Ireland should remain reasonably dry, if a little cooler in the north and east.

Outlook

For the start of w/c 20th February, it’ll be cooler / cold again as that low pushes cold air down from the north. It may also be accompanied by rain, sleet or snow in the north, but I can’t see it being as bad as of late by any stretch of the imagination (let’s hope).I do however think we’ll be back into night frosts though for the beginning of next -week, but thereafter temperatures should pick up as a westerly air flow comes into play, so sunshine and showers for the latter end of the month and mild… :)

Agronomic Notes

Tricky one really as we have some very different growing conditions, the west and Ireland in particular is pushing ahead with mild conditions and obvious growth, whereas a lot of the U.K will be emerging from snow and / or frost depending on where you sit. For the latter, my advice is not to clear any remaining snow and let nature take its course. I had a chat with a course manager on Friday who related to the farcical suggestion from a member that he and other members would clear 9 holes of snow in order to get a game. That equated to approximately 3,500mt of snow by the CM’s calculations, I ask you !.. Not taking into account the damage that you could potentially do to a grass plant by wear and abrading the crown, before subjecting it to severe frost as was the case on Friday and Saturday night. Short-term gain for long-term pain me thinks. As the frost goes out of the ground, I’d just suggest leaving the greens alone to settle down, allow the grass to breathe again and I wouldn’t spray unless absolutely necessary. As mentioned last week, the dangers of Hypoxia are clear and present at this time of the year.

You’ll see plenty of pecking from Corvids as Leatherjackets and Bibionids become active, again, I’d only spray the former if the damage is on greens or too extensive to be tolerated. I found quite large grubs last week in Wales close to the surface and this was clearly the intended target for a parliament of rooks. For Ireland, my advice is different as this week presents much better spraying conditions, with no recent history of frost / snow cover, but the early part of the week looks better than the latter.

That’s all for now, they’ll be no update at the end of week unless something dramatic happens with the weather…

All the best..

Mark Hunt

 

Feb 10th – Mini Update

Hi All,

My Rain Gauge !

Some of you, like me, woke up to a fresh blanket of snow today after moisture moved in from the North Sea and fell diagonally across the country from The Wash through South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, The Midlands and down the east side of England. Further north in Yorkshire, Cumbria we had frozen rain, an oddity, but pretty tricky from a driving perspective. This week we’ve had a West-East split with the snow extending across from Kent to Berkshire, but areas in between (parts of Surrey)and further west were clear after the thaw on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ve also been lucky because on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, cloud from the North Sea took the bite out of the frosts and that’ll mean, the snow will thaw quicker when it’ll eventually goes. The West also appears to have missed yesterday’s snow on the whole.

Looking ahead, we’re projected to have our resident Atlantic high pressure positioned just off Ireland and this will bring in mild air, as suggested on Monday, from the early part of next week, even though the wind direction will be north and quite strong next week, so it’ll still feel bitter. It may still mean things may get a bit tricky down the east side of the country mid-week, but I expect from Sunday onwards temperatures will start lifting slowly and this will precipitate a thaw from Monday with cloud cover keeping night temperatures the right side of zero.

If you got off lightly last night, you should be clear pretty soon, but of course the ground will still be frozen. For the east side of the country and The Midlands, it’ll take a bit longer.

Have we seen the last of winter ?……no I don’t think so, but we may just have a respite from the snow of late, for a week or so…..

Next update Monday, have a good weekend….below is my sledge design, pretty apt really because for Gents, if you go down a bumpy hill face first on it, ‘damaged goods’ is exactly what you’ll have !!!!!

Mark Hunt

A1 Sledge design, pillow, Damaged Goods Bag, Duct Tape !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 6th

 

Hi All

Well some of us copt a fair packet of snow over the weekend with 6″ here, followed by a thaw through the day on Sunday and overnight. (Still managed to get some good sledging in though :) Watching it on the radar, the front of moisture moved in a straight line, (you can still see the pattern in the graphic below) falling as rain over Ireland, Wales and the West Country, but turning to snow over The Midlands and further south and east of this.

Courtesy of Meteoblue - Thanks Karl !!

At present we have a real west-east split and looking at the graphic on the right you can see why Ireland is in double figures and the east is barely above freezing. You guessed it, it’s one of those blocking events again with the west sitting under a warm peak and the east sitting in a cold trough. The graphic is showing what’s projected to happen over the next three days and as you can see initially we get some more cold air from the continent for Tuesday and Wednesday, but after that temperatures will pick up a little as that warmer air pushes in. The transition won’t be a fast one though for the east / south-east of the country, but it will be faster the closer you are to the dividing line between snow and no snow.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday, a gentle thaw for the east and south-east continues through the day, whilst the west will be milder. Where the warm air meets the cold air, it’ll be pretty foggy for most of the day as well and they’ll be light rain for the west of the U.K. For Ireland we have a weak band of rain moving across Munster and Leinster through the day, dying out over night. For Tuesday, there’s a chance of some snow showers drifting in off the North Sea and affecting the east coast of the U.K, the rest of the U.K remains dull with temperatures dropping through the day as that cold air, shown above, pushes in with a hard frost on Tuesday night for the U.K, but not for Ireland. Wednesday sees a band of rain just touching the west coast of Ireland, but this might be kept at bay by that cold, continental air flow. Elsewhere a repeat of Tuesday, but feeling pretty raw in a north-east wind, finishing off with a very hard frost Wednesday night. Thursday sees that rain front affect the west and north of Ireland and Scotland and as that cold air moves south, it will fall as snow in the north of England. More frost is forecast for Thursday night, but it’ll be less harsh as temperatures slowly pick up.That rain makes more progress across Ireland on Friday, so a wet day for the end of the week, whilst the U.K stays pretty dull and finishes with a frost for Friday night. Temperatures during the day will only just stay above freezing during the week with a slight thaw during the day from Thursday / Friday.

Outlook

Of course the question that everyone wants to know the answer to, if they have snow, is when will it be gone ? I think we’ve got this cold weather till the mid part of next week, but I expect a slow thaw during Monday and Tuesday this week and from the end of the week onwards, but it will be slow mind. For next week, I think temperatures will continue to pick up slowly after dipping initially for the start of the week and by mid-week we should see mild air come in from the west and really move that snow away for the end of next week. For Ireland and the west, it’ll be slightly in reverse because it’s currently mild and it’ll get cooler for the early part of next week before temperatures recover.

Agronomic Notes

With the west-east divide, my notes are really split into two, perhaps three parts if you take into account Ireland (which I do of course:). The mild, moist air over Ireland will produce high disease pressure, so be on your guard here. Pecking for bibionids and leatherjackets will also continue and this is a real issue at present on lots of courses, a legacy of the mild weather on the run up to Christmas.

Areas without snow are stuck in the middle with a frozen soil and thawed surface from the weekend’s rain and that’s a tricky combination because effectively you’ll have a perched water table above the frozen rootzone. If this continues it’ll be very easy for this to develop into Hypoxia, that is the grass plant becomes deficient in oxygen as the roots are sitting in a saturated environment. I can’t emphasise enough how dangerous a state this is, particularly for Poa annua, with its shallow rooting and sensitivity to lower oxygen levels. In this state I’d suggest keeping wear off the greens and not putting the plant under any stress, that is don’t apply fungicides unless absolutely necessary, irons, tonics, dew controls as well, until the rootzone has thawed out and the grass plant can breathe again. Putting golfers on temporary greens is a must for the sake of a few days, failure to do so may set back the main greens for a lot longer than this.  Again I expect pecking by Crows and Magpies will be an issue as the search for food.

For the snow-covered courses, there’s not much to say other than the ground was frozen hard before the snow and although there may be a slight thaw, I expect it to re-freeze again from Tuesday onwards. Again this may cause hypoxic conditions to develop under the snow if the rootzone surface thaws and becomes waterlogged over a frozen rootzone. I don’t expect this to occur for long though because as the cold air comes in, the rootzone will re-freeze through all of its profile. As discussed above, it’s a real kids glove job when the greens do eventually come out of snow cover, but this may not be until next week for the guys in the east / south-east of the U.K, I’m afraid, sorry.

I’ll do another mini-update at the end of the week to let you know how things look then for next week and the thaw / no thaw scenario.

All the best….

Mark Hunt