Monthly Archives: April 2012

April 30th

Hi All,

As we close the book on April, it’s been without doubt for many a cold and wet month (except of course if you’re in Scotland where it’s been dry). With another 24mm yesterday, 16mm the day before, I reckon we’ve had close to 140mm this month, last year we had 8mm in April !!!. (Some lads have already reported up to 170mm for April !). As usual I’d appreciate your rainfall stats from all areas and thanks to anyone who’s already sent them in this year, much appreciated. All of it welcome of course (?) particularly for some areas, as the drought orders stay firmly in place, but I sense a lifting of key restrictions in some areas to watering by fixed irrigation, good news if it is true. (anyone got anything in writing for Thames and / or Veolia ?)

Today is the first real warm day since March, as the winds have switched round to the east and are wafting in warm air from the continent. In Germany I hear they’re getting 25°C, good news, if it wasn’t for the fact that the German authorities are looking to implement the European Thematic Strategy for Pesticides and so that means a hold on pesticide applications for the time-being. Quite how the authorities expect you to maintain a disease-free greens surface when you have the tricky combination of moisture, humidity and rapid temperature rise is beyond me (good luck to all of you guys). At some stage, this piece of legislation will manifest itself in the U.K and Ireland in one form or another, let’s just hope that our respective industries have done their lobbying effectively. The main issue is that the fungicide family in the spotlight – the Triazoles or DMI’s (De-methylation inhibitors) are the most effective A.I’s for the control of our most aggressive turf diseases, namely Fusarium and Dollar Spot (Continental Europe). Without them, life get’s very difficult, no matter how good your cultural work is :(

General Weather Situation

We start the week off with a nice, bright, warm day courtesy of those warm easterlies. A very necessary, dry interlude after the weekend, Ireland will have a damper start, but all places, except for the extreme south-west of England should be mainly dry for Monday with drying, easterly winds. By late afternoon we’ll have some showers moving into the south-east of England and Munster and pushing northwards through the evening. These will be followed by a heavier front of rain that moves in during the early hours of Tuesday and this wil bring heavier rain for a time to the U.K and Ireland. By Tuesday afternoon it should have cleared the south of both countries. Wednesday is a drier day for all areas, however by early afternoon another tight rain front pushes in from the continent and is projected to affect an area from North London diagonally across to North Wales for most of the afternoon / evening. It’ll feel a bit cooler as the winds change from easterlies to northerlies through Tuesday / Wednesday, so enjoy today while you can :). Thursday sees that rain front pushed back south by the northerly winds and so it’ll mean showers for The Midlands from early doors, and that rain will push into the south by late morning. The same rain front will be located across Ireland stretching from Leinster to North Munster and this will push south through the day. Friday starts off dry, but I expect another front of rain to affect Scotland during the day, falling as snow over the hills. This rain will also push into Northern Ireland and then south later on Friday. The Bank Holiday weekend is a tricky one to predict, the chances are that it will remain cold if the wind stays from the north and I expect heavy rain at some point, most likely Saturday….certainly it’ll start damp on Saturday for most areas, with Sunday only marginally better. :(It certainly seems unfair that we seem to be getting all of the bad weather at the weekend)

Outlook

Next week looks like starting off settled and drier than the weekend, but still on the cool side. By mid-week, a new Atlantic low is set to form and push milder air into the U.K and Ireland on a south-westerly wind flow. As usual with an Atlantic low, they’ll be moisture associated with it, so sunshine and showers is the order of the day for the latter part of next week.

Agronomic Notes

The high level of soil moisture and now a brief spell of warmth will kick a number of processes off for sure. The first is Fusarium – there’s been quite a lot sitting in the background, ever since the moisture arrived in early / mid-April, but I expect it to kick on  with this brief spell of temperature. Hopefully you’re able to grow it out as fast as it comes in, but with low temperatures expected at the weekend, that may be a little tricky.

Seedheads will also move on at a pace I believe with this bit of warmth and even though we may have another cold blip at the weekend, I think we’ll see our main seedhead flush on target for the 1st week of May (as per usual), so if you’re planning cultural Poa seedhead measures, (you know brushing, grooming, etc :) ) I think you’ll be needing them from next week onwards. I appreciate that the annual biotype of Poa has been seeding for quite a while now, particularly on areas like the clean-up strip, however it’s the perennial form that makes up the majority of greens grass composition. Ireland is of course the exception to this discussion about seedheads as they tend to kick in earlier over there.

Nutrition is tricky because the conditions still suit granular applications in the main, however with lifting temperatures, you will see a good response from foliar liquids. The problem is finding the spray days and giving it enough time on the leaf. Looking at this week, your choice is either the start of the week or if not, I’d leave it till after the weekend when the conditions have settled down a bit. I expect outfield areas to be romping away and that will also mean it will be a good time to treat weeds, but again, the issue is spray days and effective applications. On this area, I’d look to next week as the time to apply.

Worm activity will also be a feature with the onset of heavy rain, particularly on higher heights of cut areas.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 23rd

Hi All,

Another week of sunshine and showers beckons, with some heavier rain fronts mid-week and at the weekend (likely Sunday). It made me laugh reading the water companies blurb about rain at this time of the year doing next to nothing with respect to reservoir levels, ground water, etc because most of it is lost to the atmosphere by evaporation according to them. Well I suggest they take a walk out of their cosy, London offices because it’s been pretty cool this month and on average less than 0.5mm per day is being lost through E.T. Here in The Midlands, our April rainfall has done a lot to restore reservoir levels, but in the South-East, they’ve still some way to go…Bewl Water in Kent is currently sitting at 50% full, when normally it is 90% at this time of year, but it is heading the right way as it was down at 30% in December. For the clubs in that area, take consolation from the fact that the current weather pattern is much more likely to give you guys reliable rainfall, rather than the traditional, milder, south-westerly air flow. When you do get these showers, they’re very localised and very heavy, yesterday morning I was fishing and had to bail the boat out 3 times because it was filling with water as fast as I could get rid of it  !!!! :)

Had a good few calls last week about the latest ‘long-term’ forecast from the Met Office for a cold May. It may well be true if the current weather pattern continues , i.e we remain in a trough in the jet-stream and continue to receive northerly winds and rain, but the reality is no one can predict this beyond the 10 days of reasonably accurate forecasting projections that we have available, so let’s wait and see.

General Weather Situation

Currently, we have a low pressure system sitting just south of the U.K and another one due to form by mid week, so this will push rain into the south-west, south and Midlands areas of the U.K this week, with a high probability of heavy rain for all of those areas. The pattern of a dry start with showers or heavier rain bubbling up through the day is set to continue on Monday, with a heavy band of rain already affecting the south of the U.K and Wales and this is set to push up through the day reaching The Midlands by the afternoon. Tuesday looks to be the driest day of the week, along with Friday, though showers will hang on down the far south-east corner of England. Again heavy showers will bubble up around the coasts and across Ireland from lunchtime and these will push inland during the afternoon. Wednesday sees a new low pressure system pushing heavy rain into the south-west of the U.K during the morning, with another band of rain for the north of England and Scotland for late morning. This rain front will affect all areas by the afternoon giving some heavy rainfall into the evening and overnight into Thursday. Thursday follows a similar pattern, with plenty of rain for all areas, though it’ll be more showery in nature compared to Wednesday (but they will be heavy, particularly later on in the day). Friday starts off dry for all areas except Leinster and South Wales, but during the day, heavy showers will push across all areas, but maybe more focused in The Midlands and Munster by the afternoon. The weekend is set to continue this pattern and there is a strong possibility of heavy rain on Sunday.

Outlook

As we head into May, next week looks like starting off wet as the rain from Sunday continues into the early part of next week. It looks like drying out and warming up a little thereafter, with again little risk of night frost, so maybe a drier week than this week. From mid-week, next week, a new, cool low is projected to push down and that may bring a return to cooler weather and some showers, rather than heavy rain.

Agronomic Notes

It seems paradoxical that whilst we are receiving heavy rain in a lot of areas, we are also under drought restrictions in some parts of the U.K, so I’m going to put together a mini-blog later this week for those areas, along with some specific agronomic advice. Youl’ll be able to access it by clicking on a link that’ll take you there, rather than everyone having to read it.

The rain continues to bring welcome moisture, though of course areas are sitting pretty wet. Along with a spell of milder nights above freezing, growth is beginning to kick in on greens, particularly with respect to Poa annua, but it’s still slow because soil temperatures are only sitting around 8 – 9°C. For reference, last year on the same day, they were 14°C and air temperatures were hitting 20°C. Late April / early May means seedheads will become an issue for many in the U.K, though I understand Ireland is its usual 2-3 weeks ahead of us in this respect because of the different Poa biotype present. The current lack of E.T and temperature will of course exert less stress, so the seedhead flush may well be drawn out this year over a longer period. In previous years we’ve had a sudden increase in temperature which really pushes the flush on, but maybe not this year.

There is plenty of Fusarium kicking around in the background at the moment and this has meant application of a fungicide has been required, particularly for those trying to topdress (between the showers!)

Nutrition-wise, it remains light rate, cool temperature-biased, granular fertilisers or water-soluble / liquid tonics are the order of the day, though finding the spray days and periods without heavy rainfall is proving difficult ! Outfield areas are growing much faster than greens at present and will benefit from pegging back with a PGR, if budgets and spray windows are forthcoming, though I think I’d keep my powder dry for a few more weeks yet until the weather stabilises.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

April 16th

Hi All,

You can see why our weather has been so different since the beginning of April when you look at the two Meteoblue images below. As you may remember, we spent most of last autumn and winter sitting under a protective peak courtesy of a high pressure system. This pushed the rain north and east into Europe and we had a pretty mild winter. At the end of March, this high pressure moved out into the Atlantic and now we’re sitting in a trough of colder and sometimes wetter air. This morning we got down to -4.5°C in Northampton (thanks Colin) which is the coldest I’ve known it for mid-April and this week we’re in for some pretty wet and windy weather, good news for all of you affected by the irrigation ban.

General Weather Situation

Monday will most likely be our driest day of the week, with a cold bright start after a heavy frost for many areas. Enjoy it while you can because rain is set to arrive into Kerry, Mayo and Sligo (west of Ireland) from lunchtime and this will push eastwards across Ireland into Scotland and the North of England by close of play today. This rain is from a deep Atlantic low that’s slipping down from the north and it’ll bring heavy rain and wind to most places this week. Overnight this rain reaches the south-west of England and Wales and pushes into all of England by the rush hour, intensifying as it crosses the U.K during the day. I think all areas will get rain during Tuesday, but if you don’t, don’t fret, there’s more on the way. Wednesday starts off with rain over Munster, Connacht and Leinster and this progresses eastwards again into Wales by the morning and quickly across the U.K, again giving heavy bursts in some areas. Ireland dries up briefly in the morning, before a new front pushes in. This rain will be accompanied by strong south-westerly winds, so no risk of frost after Monday, as night temperatures sit around 5-6°C and day temperatures in the low double figures. For Thursday, a band of rain extends from The Wash down to the south coast and slowly moves eastwards during the day. West of this it’ll dry up for a time before more showers pack in, feeling colder as the wind swings round to the north. For the end of the week, we have a brief lull and Friday may start dry, but more showers are expected during the day, pushing in from lunchtime onwards. For the weekend, it’ll feel cold with more heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday for all areas.

Outlook

I think next week will start cool, with a high possibility of frosts again at the start of the week. By mid-week, a new low pressure system is predicted to move in bringing rain to Ireland first and then the rest of the U.K from Wednesday onwards. So staying unsettled and cold as we approach the end of April.

Agronomic Notes

The cold and wetter weather is certainly holding back growth, particularly on greens, though with the arrival of rain over the last 7-10 days for most areas, Poa annua has now started growing alongside the already strongly-growing bentgrass. I’ve always maintained that the key to bentgrass growth is a dry rootzone after years ago seeing a gravel banding project on some push-up greens in Surrey. The dry gravel bands were completely colonised by bentgrass with no overseeding because they were drier. This spring has shown strong bentgrass growth, at the expense of Poa annua, which just does not like growing if it’s dry and it doesn’t matter if it’s cold dry or warm dry. Greens growth is still on the slow side, with the night frosts, but I expect it to tick along nicely this week, with the milder nights and moisture.

I’ve been asked about seedheads a lot lately in terms of when I think the seedhead flush will come. Up until the rain arrived, Poa was just beginning to seed, particularly the annual biotypes, but since then it’s been cold and wet and I’ve only seen small amounts of seedheads on my travels. Ireland tends to start earlier than the U.K, sometimes by 2-3 weeks, but over here I expect the main Poa seedhead lush to be the same as previous years and maybe a little later, that means the 1st week of May. It always fascinates me that no matter what weather we have from Jan to April, Poa begins seeding in earnest in pretty much the same week every year !.

Nutrition-wise, it’s pretty much the same as last week and with the wet and windy weather, granulars are the order of the day at present, unless you can sneak out a spray today or perhaps at the end of the week. Either way, nutrition should be focused on low temperature nitrogen forms, so ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate.

Disease-wise, there’s a good bit of Fusarium kicking around, brought in by the arrival of moisture, but I don’t expect it to be too aggressive at present because of the low temperatures. What we need to watch out for is when these temperatures finally rise in spring, that’s when I expect Fusarium to kick in, in earnest. Looking on the bright side though, at least you’ll be able to grow it out pretty quickly if that does happen.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

April 10th

Hi All,

Back after Easter and some much needed rainfall, particularly mid-week, last week when The Midlands got well and truly clattered (thank god), ironically on the day before a number of water authorities imposed a hosepipe ban that encompasses irrigating on golf courses. The highest figure I’ve got is 56mm recorded over 24hrs (thanks Adi), here I measured 43mm, but it was all very gratefully received.

I’d be interested to hear any feedback on the hosepipe ban imposition because there seems to be a degree of confusion over exemption criteria, other than national or international tournament venues. It seems slightly farcical to me that a golf clubhouse can still draw water off the mains, but that same water can’t be used to keep the greens alive, for without them, there’s no business.

Anyway looking ahead, the weather pattern is behaving as predicted and that blocking high is well out into the Atlantic, which is allowing cooler and wetter air down from the north.

General Weather Situation

This week will be a typical sunshine and showers week, with a cool feel to the wind and the return of night frosts to some areas, particularly later in the week and at the weekend as the resident low moves away.

Tuesday starts bright for most places, but cloud will quickly build as a raft of showers is pushed down from the north into Ireland and Scotland initially, but affecting all areas during the afternoon. These showers could be heavy and blustery in nature, particularly in Scotland and the north of England, falling as snow on high ground. They will clear by midnight to leave a cold night and the risk of ground frost in The Midlands. Wednesday sees a repeat of Tuesday, but the showers will kick off later in the day (early p.m) and will be less widespread and perhaps lighter in nature, with a decreasing wind strength. Thursday and Friday sees a repeat of this pattern, but the showers seem more likely to affect Ireland, the south-west of England and the west coast, that said I wouldn’t rule them out anywhere. Temperatures will be low double figures during the day, but as we approach the end of the week, these will drop, as the wind takes on a more northerly direction. The cold theme continues into the weekend with wintry showers in Wales and the south-west on Saturday and if anything becoming more widespread on Sunday. There’s a low pressure expected just off the Kerry coast and it wouldn’t surprise me if this moves inland over the weekend to bring more moisture to Ireland and the U.K.

Outlook

Next week looks like starting off in a similar vain to this week, perhaps a little drier, but still cold, with a risk of showers and a widespread night frost. By mid-week, a deep, North Atlantic low pressure is set to form which will pick up the temperatures and bring the next bout of rain. At this stage I can see this as being pretty heavy for all areas and with the wind changing round to the south-west, it’ll feel appreciably milder as we lose those night frosts.

Agronomic Notes

The main talk in the south of England is the hosepipe ban and the likely effect on golf course viability. For the moment, I don’t see the need for drastic action, as we’ve had rainfall and the unsettled pattern to the weather is set to continue for April, which is good news. In addition, the cool feel to the weather will keep E.T rates low, so there won’t be much drying out of the turf surface. At some point, high pressure will exert itself and begin to dry things out and it’s at that point that life will get trickier, but there are a number of agronomic options available to prolong grass viability on greens and other wear areas.

Rainfall patterns are notoriously difficult to predict area by area, year on year, but looking at some statistics, it seems that the trend over the last 4 years in the drier areas of the U.K, is for declining rainfall in the spring, but increasing rainfall in the summer, mainly due to rainfall from the continent. I appreciate for those reading this blog in Ireland or Scotland, thoughts of an irrigation ban are for la-la land, but if you’re in an area from The Midlands south, it’s either reality or potential reality, and a confused one at that it seems.

Growth on greens is slow, held back by the night frosts and cold rain, but at least the arrival of rain will initiate some Poa. growth, because up until now it’s the bentgrass that’s been on the move and if your cutting heights are still up, this has created a bumpy surface. (just in time for Augusta:). I don’t see a great change in this state of affairs over the coming week, with low growth levels as soil temperatures hang around 8°C , but outfield areas will pick up with the rain. Good news I guess in a short week scenario that growth is controllable.

Nutrition-wise, with the arrival of rain and a changeable weather pattern, this lends itself more to low temperature orientated, granular, greens fertilisers to provide a welcome kick.

I’ve had a number of reports of Leatherjacket activity over the last week or so, particularly after coring or solid tining. I guess you all know what to look for, but the typical countersunk pattern around a core / tine hole is a giveaway to grub feeding activity at night.

If anyone has feedback on rainfall for March, the current water restrictions and how they apply or don’t apply to golf clubs, please feel free to email me…

All the best..

Mark Hunt

 

April 2nd

Hi All,

As I type this I can hear the neighbour scraping ice off his car windscreen before going to work and the air temperature is sitting at a cool 1.5°C. Still we’ve had a lovely week and a better weekend than I thought, as the north winds didn’t get up to the strength I predicted. Well my hunch that the weather looks to be changing appears to be correct and in one sense it’ll be a welcome change as I expect all areas to receive some rain over the next two weeks. Whether the movement of the blocking high pressure out into the Atlantic is a permanent one remains to be seen, but one consequence of this is that it’ll allow cooler, wetter air from the north to affect our weather patterns. So the other part of the change won’t be so welcome, because it’s going to get noticeably cooler, particularly during Tuesday to Thursday this week.

General Weather Situation

Monday will be a settled day, bright and sunny and nice after a chilly start with localised ground frost. For Connact and Munster there’s some rain kicking around and also for Scotland and The North of England, where those showers will turn to snow on hills as that colder air pushes into the north. During Tuesday, that colder, wetter air, sinks southwards and brings rain, sleet and some snow (higher ground) across the U.K, reaching the south by the afternoon. That rain and sleet hangs around overnight so that will keep the frost away and this cold rain / sleet won’t clear the far south till the morning rush hour on Wednesday. Ireland I think will have sunshine and showers for Tuesday, but again noticeably cooler, so don’t forget your buff :) .Wednesday will be a brighter, cold day after a frosty start, with sunshine and showers, though these will be few and far between, pushed along on a chilly north-east wind. Again I’d expect a frost on Wednesday night, but as we go into Thursday temperatures will start to recover as a warmer high exerts itself. Since this high is in the Atlantic, Ireland will feel the benefits first although I expect some showers in the north and Leinster later in the day. The U.K will be dry after another frosty start on Thursday, but as we go through the day it’ll feel warmer. For Friday, rain moves into Scotland and pushes down southwards through the day, but amounts will be light and will fall as showers. I think that will also mark the end of the frosts for the time-being.

Outlook

The Bank Holiday weekend looks like starting off cool on Saturday with a chilly north-east wind and the chance of showers along the coasts so wrap up well. Sunday looks a better day, warmer as the winds swing round to the North-West, with a chance of showers practically anywhere, but as we go into Monday, the winds strengthen and this signifies the arrival of a new low pressure system which is set to bring welcome rain for the first part of next week. Ireland, you’ll have it similar to the above, but slightly warmer as you’ll be closer to the high pressure, so temperatures will be pretty typical, early teens. With winds and cloud cover, I don’t expect frosts next week, so growth should pick up.

Agronomic Notes

Last week’s warm temperatures did eventually dry surfaces out, as E.T rates increased, but only in the top 5-6mm as below that moisture was present.

This was illustrated well for me when I looked at some  fairways areas that had been overseeded 4-5 weeks ago. The seed took 7-10 days to germinate and in the 3 weeks that it’s been growing, some of the rye seedlings had developed a root system of 15-20mm !. That works out as 5-7mm of root development per week and is some going in my books. It also illustrates the benefit of drill seeding because it gets the seed into or in close proximity to the soil and crucially below the surface fibre layer, which is subject to drying out and crusting. (see photo)

The arrival of rain this week will be welcome to many I think, even though it’ll co-incide with a cold blast. Soil temperatures will remain low this week, because although it was warm during the day last week, the cold mornings and frequent frosts have kept the soil temperature down. You can see this on the weather stats for March below (Thanks Sean) where during the day, the maximum air temperature was > 20°C, but the minimum was 0°C, so the soil temperature never really broke into double figures for long.

So growth will continue to be slow and practically non-existent on greens, no bad thing I guess before the Bank Holiday, but if you want recovery from aeration, it’ll make life a bit harder. Next week’s rain and milder night and day temperatures(if they come to fruition) should kick things off nicely and I think we’ll see our first true growth on all areas, so let’s all generate some positive vibes and hasten some decent growing weather in :) !

All the best….

Mark Hunt