Monthly Archives: March 2013

29th March – Mini Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi All,

Just a quick update to give a ‘heads up’ how the Easter weather is looking and as usual an outlook perspective for the start of April.

Before I start this, I’d just like to say ‘all the best for today’ for John and Charlotte, good friends of mine, who are tying the knot at Normanton Church on the shores of Rutland Water. I commend them for their choice of venue and will be taking my fishing gear in readiness :) I thought I’d help John out a bit by showing him the best pose for the cameras and of course to watch for any fish rising behind your intended’s back :)

General Weather Situation

At present, our weather is being controlled by a high pressure system sitting out over Central Europe and it’s this system that’s stopping milder (but wetter) air coming in from the west. There are pro’s and con’s to this, the positive aspect to the weather over Easter is that it’ll be staying dry for the foreseeable forecast, so if your course needs to dry out, then it’s going to get the chance in the coming week or so. The negative aspect is of course the temperature with the wind direction ultimately ‘stuck’ in a north-easterly / easterly pattern, so that means single figures are the order of the day, though I do expect a gradual increase from mid-week, next week to the weekend and you never know, we could hit double figures by next weekend. (Gadzooks)

There’s a chance of some rain over the Easter weekend, just nudging into the south-west corner of Munster (So Kerry really / West Cork), but aside from that we’ll be dry. We will have night frosts, the severity of which will ultimately be determined by cloud cover at night. The thaw for the courses north of Leicester, that are still badly affected by snow drifts on the course will continue, with the afternoon particularly good at shifting snow as the sun rises higher in the sky and stays there for longer. The main issue here are the drifts of snow, which are still over 5-6 feet high in places close to where I live. Here’s a pic from an evening cycle to show you what I mean…..

Weather Outlook

Next week really looks like being a continuation of this week, so primarily easterlies in charge, no sign of much moisture (which will cause issues at some stage on greens) and a gentle warming up from Wednesday onwards as warmer air is pushed into the system. Will it last though, no I don’t think so and at present I can see a return to cold and night frosts well into April.

The underlying reason is the current position of the jet stream, I say current because it’s been there now for a year or so and until it changes, we’re stuck in this trough. This image on the right, kindly provided by netweather.tv, shows the jet stream (in red) and you can see that it’s running parallel to the Mediterranean, whereas it should be running across Ireland and the U.K. Until it changes, we will not get anything like normal weather I’m afraid.

So there we have it, wrap up well for Easter, and try and make the best of it, I hope you managed to get your courses open to take advantage of some Easter revenue. Must dash as have to iron trousers and find a suitable tie :(

In next week’s blog I’ll be looking at how things are shaping up weather-wise and talking through strategies to try and initiate growth and minimise stress in these challenging conditions.

All the best and Happy Easter….

Mark Hunt

 

March 25th

 

Hi All,

Spring ?

I’m sitting here looking out at 4″ of snow that has now froze in these biting easterly winds and wondering if it’s just a bad dream and I’ll wake up some time :(

One year ago to the day nearly, we were sitting under a protective peak in the jet stream that had provided us warm, dry weather for most of the winter, but we were desperately short of water. At the beginning of April, 2012, that peak shifted and was replaced by a trough, the rest is history, so by Easter 2013, it’ll be a year of a fixed weather pattern and I for one are beginning to wonder if this change is permanent, so I’m going to try and find out this week, by talking to the scientists who are studying it.

So is there any sign of a change in this jet -stream pattern ?, not really, but there is a sign of slightly milder weather on the horizon, that said, it was supposed to arrive by mid-week, this week, but I think it’s arrival will be delayed now till over Easter, which is going to present a big problem to all of us with snow cover now, in terms of ground conditions and of course, lost business-wise. The south and west of the country seems to have escaped the worst, with the snow line starting between Northampton and Oxford and extending north, west and eastwards, so if you have no snow cover now, thank your lucky stars.

 General Weather Situation

As you’re probably well aware by watching the news, we have a high pressure sitting over Northern Europe and this is pushing an easterly airstream over the U.K and Ireland. Those winds are biting cold and even now the windchill in my protected location is -3.8°C, but I’ve had -7°C reported for Thame, Oxfordshire.  For Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a fixed situation, with a cold, dry, scenario, and from The Midlands north and east, little prospect of a thaw because of the windchill during the day. Further south and west, I think you’ll see a slow thaw for a couple of hours during the day. There’s a risk of some lighter snow showers mid-week in the north-east of England and Scotland and maybe also a chance of some snow coming off the continent into the south-east overnight Wednesday, but that’s a tricky one to call. For Ireland, a similar picture, brighter on Monday, but with more cloud cover and the risk of some light snow showers mid-week along the coast of Leinster. For Thursday, we have a similar picture, but with lighter winds, so the temperature will creep up a little allowing a slight thaw. There will be a chance of snow showers along the east and south-east coast blowing in off The North Sea. By the end of the week, there’s a battle going on between this stubborn cold air system and milder air from the west / south and it’s really tricky to say how it’s going to go. Certainly there’s a risk of snow initially as the 2 weather systems meet. For Ireland and the west, the wind will switch to the south by the end of the week and this will bring temperatures up, but it’ll be a slow affair. For the rest of the U.K, I don’t think that change will take place till into the Easter weekend and it may well end up that the winds are south-easterly, rather than southerly, so milder, but not mild if you get my drift. So for Easter weekend, I’ll stick my neck out and say we’ll be milder, with a southerly airstream and hopefully we’ll lose the overnight frosts, this is more likely over Ireland and the west side of the U.K, than it is the east, where you’re closer to the cold ridge of weather. They’ll be some showers around in the west, possibly heavy down in south-west Munster into Easter Sunday, but at this stage it’s not looking too bad as these should clear through quickly on a brisk wind.

Weather Outlook

A tricky one I think and much depends on how the battle shapes up between the milder westerly air and the entrenched, colder continental air. So rather than stick a meteorological finger in the air at the start of the week, I’m going to do an update on Thursday on how we’re looking for the weekend and the week following Easter.

Agronomic Notes

Not really a shed load to say here that I didn’t say last week in my mega-blog. Obviously a lot of you are either under snow or frozen solid. Disease-wise, we actually don’t want a rapid thaw because that’ll bring flooding and a potential increase in disease activity as soil temperatures rise.

If you’re looking to guesstimate how much moisture you’ve received in snowfall:rainfall, the rough conversion is 10″ of snow = 1″ of equivalent rainfall, less so if the snow is dry and powdery. (10″ = 0.7″ for powder apparently)

I’ll sign off this rather short blog quickly because I can see the BT van coming up the street and he’s going to render me wireless-less for a time I’m sure and I wanted to get this one out.

Grin and bear it for another week I’m afraid, I wish I could report otherwise, but let’s see what Thursday’s update brings…

Mark Hunt

 

March 22nd – Mini Update

Hi All,

Not what we needed really as the rain forecast for Friday duly arrived and turned to snow overnight and into the morning in a line north of Northampton. Ireland, the south-west of England and Wales in particular also got clattered with torrential rain topping 30mm plus. We had heavy snow here but it’s gone now as the combination of a strong, drying wind and 5°C temperature has thawed it. Further south I know some of you missed the rain completely and have had decent temperatures, I’m happy for you.

The big question mark and the reason for sending this mini-update concerns later today and Saturday. We have another band of rain moving into the the UK later today and through the night and the big question mark is whether this will fall as further snow through the day and lead to a covering and more course / pitch closures. At present I’m sad to say that’s how it’s looking with a ridge of cold air pushing south and that means snowfall will occur further south than today, but I must stress it could easily fall as rain and in addition, the exact amount of snow / rain / sleet falling is difficult to predict. Certainly The Midlands north are a safe bet for more snow on Saturday, with the question being how far south this snow line extends down to. Ireland may also be affected along the east coast of Leinster during Saturday, particularly over higher ground, but the snow showers should become more isolated as we go through the day on Saturday and Sunday at present is looking dry.

As usual with the inherent unpredictability of snow, I’d suggest clicking on the radar on Meteoblue through the day to see where the moisture is actually falling because this is the best guide. To view this click here.

The next question I’m getting is “When is it going to end and will it affect Easter ?”

Well, we’re still in a trough pattern and so the potential for cool / cold air to cause issues remains and will remain until the pattern shifts, either sideways or upwards. The predicted signal from the jet stream is still there for a change towards the end of next week, with a milder southerly / south-westerly airstream pushing temperatures up, so all we can do at present is hope this comes to pass and knuckle down for one more week possibly.

I’ll be doing my usual update on Monday morning, so I’ll have more of an idea then if the predictions are still on track. I’d love to say “Have a good weekend”, but I know it’ll be a tough one for most.

All the best

Mark Hunt

March 19th

Hi All,

I thought it would be a good idea this week to sync my blog with the weather and since the spring is so bloody late coming, so is my blog… , but seriously, apologies for the delay.

I did say last week that the weather over the weekend just gone was looking pretty grim, but nothing prepared me for Sunday morning on Ravensthorpe reservoir, Northampton. I was trout fishing with my long-suffering boat companion, when she commented that it was drizzling (9.30), “Just a bit of low cloud I said”, “it looks like it’s turning to sleet” (9.45), “Stop being negative, nothing is forecast today, “it’s fair chucking it down with snow now” (9.50), “At least it won’t settle” says I, safe in the knowledge we’re in the middle of a reservoir. To my amazement, with the water being so cold and the flakes of snow, so big, it actually settled on the surface like an ice floe, “Fek this for a game of horses” said I (10.30) and retired home to bitch about the weather over Nespresso and Rundstykker (Proper Danish Brekkie)…..So you all have my sympathies for yet another trashed weekend leading to lots of course and I guess, grounds closures and I can assure you, what isn’t good for your business, isn’t good for the one I work in either. Most of you got a mix of rain, sleet and / or snow, around here we were about 26mm combined, but I know others got more…….so how are we looking for the week ahead ?

General Weather Situation

As predicted last week, this week we have a cold low in charge and that’s going to make life pretty grim when you consider the fact we’re only a couple of days away from the official start date for spring, i.e The Spring Equinox. (7.02 a.m on March 20th apparently). This is supposed to mark the day when day length and night length are approximately equal (hence the term Equinox meaning “Equal Night” in Latin), but it won’t feel like spring I’m afraid this week, but it will be relatively dry till the end of the week.

For Tuesday, we have a cold, dull start for many, though down in the west and south-west, you may see the sun early doors. From early morning we have a ridge of moisture moving into north-east Scotland and this will fall as snow across The Highlands throughout the day, particularly along the north-east coast down to Newcastle. There’s also a risk of wintry showers across The Irish Sea tracking along the Leinster coast and high ground of Wicklow during the morning and extending west to Connacht later in the morning and through the day and if anything intensifying to snow. For the south, I think they’ll be a risk of showers, some falling wintry in nature through the day, but particularly in the afternoon. Overnight into Wednesday, there’s again a risk of snow along the east coast, early doors, falling further south this time and pushing into The Midlands in the early morning and moving south down into Wales by lunchtime. Again there’s also a risk of snow in north Leinster / Connacht, tracking south through the day. Elsewhere it looks to be a dull, cool day with little sunshine as that cloud cover is pushed in off The North Sea on a cold, easterly wind. For Thursday, the wind swings round to the south-east / south and that’ll pick up temperatures a little, but unfortunately with that wind change comes moisture, and at this stage it looks like rain will push into the south-west of England / Ireland early doors and then move slowly and diagonally (\) up country through the morning to reach The Midlands by close of play Thursday. There’s a risk that this rain will turn to snow initially as it hits the cold, easterly air and if so, this will be later on Thursday night as temperatures drop. This rain front intensifies overnight and so Friday looks like being a very wet day at this stage for most areas of the U.K and Ireland, with heavy rain, falling as snow over the high ground and temperatures in the mid-single figures. Another feature will be the strong winds, southerly I think in nature, pushing that rain through the day to end the week very sodden indeed and possibly with heavy snow further north for Scotland as well. For Saturday, that rain should have cleared most areas, maybe hanging around over Ireland , the south-west of England and still falling as snow, particularly across the north-east of Scotland. As the winds drop through Saturday, so will the temperature, so Sunday looks cool / cold with possible overnight frost and still a risk of some isolated snow showers, so in a word, bad…

Weather Outlook

After yet another grim week, this week, are there any signs that spring is around the corner ?….well yes and no, but it’s not going to be a light switch transition this year…

Next week starts cool / cold with an easterly wind I think and frost likely for Monday. By Tuesday, that wind is swinging round to the south and pushing milder air up, so I think we’ll see a lift in temperature and a milder feel to the weather. But again, there’s a price to pay for mildness and this means more rain is likely, particularly on Tuesday p.m / Wednesday for Ireland with potentially heavy rain on the cards and rain for the rest of the U.K mid-week, before drying off for Thursday on the run up to Easter. Although we will have rain, I do think the temperatures will be a little better for this period and whilst there won’t be a sudden up turn (and actually we don’t want one really from a maintenance perspective with 2 x 4-day weeks on the bounce), it will feel more spring-like, with westerly winds. So that means we will start to get some drying as well as moisture, because loss of moisture by evaporation has been negligible this year. (See below)

Are we out of the woods yet ?,  not really, as that trough pattern still remains, but the signal from the jet-stream is for a more westerly air-flow and this has to be better than what we’ve had of late…At this stage I think Easter will be sunshine and blustery showers, but that’s 12 days away and this may change….

 Agronomic Notes

A lot to speak about this week and that’s another reason why I didn’t want to rush my blog yesterday, because I know a lot of you, whether you’re greenkeepers or groundsman have some important decisions to make regarding maintenance work and with the weather not playing ball, it’s going to make life tricky, so let’s chat it through…

Spring Maintenance – The Pro’s and Cons

The issue with a lot of people is that scheduled maintenance week is sometime in March and with the hit of rainfall / snow and the lack of soil temperature, the discussion is whether it’s now going to be possible to do this or whether the type of aeration can be altered. I’ll start with golf, but I will touch on grounds maintenance to a degree as well. To support the discussion that follows, I’ve prepared some data to show a comparison of soil temperature, rainfall vs. E.T and growth potential in degree days, for 2013 y.t.d vs. the same period in 2012. As usual the data is from The Oxfordshire, so thanks again to Sean for sorting, much appreciated mate…

The Cause of the Problem 1 – Organic Matter Accumulation

The issue or cause of the issue goes way back to nearly a year ago now with the change to a wet weather pattern (April 8th, 2012). Last year as you’ll all remember we had frequent heavy rain that saturated the rootzone for long periods, this led to a lower oxygen status in the rootzone and coupled with lower than normal soil temperatures.(March – September 2012 average soil temp was -1.5°C lower than the previous year and the lowest for the same period since 2005) The end result of lowered oxygen status and lower temperatures was less microbial activity and ultimately less breakdown of organic matter, so a higher rate of accumulation. Dovetail into that, 2012 was a very hard year to topdress, i.e dilute surface organic matter and with a permanently wet surface, many clubs I know changed from hollow coring to solid tining, so they didn’t directly remove fibre, but of course if they top dressed after, they did dilute the fibre level with sand and decompact the rootzone to a degree. This also allowed gases built up by anaerobic bacteria (Hydrogen sulphide, methane, etc) to ‘vent’ and ultimately allowed the grass plant to breathe. There was also definitely less verticutting and scarifying carried out last year, so the net effect of reduced microbial activity, reduced organic matter removal and reduced topdressing was definitely increased organic matter levels in amenity turf.

Leap forward to now and we’ve already had less microbial activity this year so far, and although growth and hence organic matter production has been limited as well, we’re definitely carrying more surface fibre into the spring. Below is a recent soil sample comparison of 6 greens taken at 6″ sampling depth so the organic matter quoted isn’t just in the surface, it’s in the whole profile. The trend clearly shows an increase on 5 of the 6 greens tested in terms of rootzone organic matter and I’ve seen plenty like this..

The Cause of the Problem 2 – The weather so far this year…

Looking at the stats below, you can see why things have been hard so far this year in terms of maintaining grass, whatever the weather. Firstly, we have had very little growth potential in terms of leaf / shoot growth. As you can see from the graph below, grass hasn’t been able to produce top growth for more than 5 days since the start of January.

If we look at the growth potential closer in terms of growth-degree-days (GDD) greater than 6°C soil temperature, we can see that since January the 1st, 2013, grass has had only 30% of the GDD in 2013 than it had in 2012, for the same time period. So if you have thinning areas of turf, particularly those that are growth-limited anyway (shaded surfaces) due to poor light maybe, this is why.

Lastly, we can see that when we have rainfall at the moment, the surfaces wet up super -quick and of course, this is because the soil is saturated, but there’s another reason. Together with the lack of temperature and high rainfall / snow, we haven’t had drying days either, so the amount of moisture evaporated out of the soil into the air this year has been far less than 2012. How much less you ask ?, well last year at this time, we’d received 81mm of rainfall y.t.d, lost 54mm to evapo-transpiration (E.T), leaving a net surplus of moisture in the soil of 27mm. This year, we’ve received 138mm, lost 40mm to E.T, leaving a net surplus in the soil of 98mm. In other words, the soil contains 4 times the moisture level it did on the same day last year and even if it didn’t rain again and we lost 3mm a day to E.T, it would take a month to totally dry out, so that’s why we’re wet Mr Golfer / Player !

All this info is here

So let’s look at our options going forward…….

Why doing nothing ultimately costs money….

Building fibre in the surface and / or rootzone ultimately leads to a number of negative consequences and their effect is far reaching, here are some, but not all of the issues related to organic matter accumulation….

  1. Excess surface fibre leads to the plants root system being concentrated in the surface of the sward (Bridged Rooting). As such it is susceptible to environmental stress from water-logging or droughting out, so the grass cover suffers leading to a poor playing surface. These roots are also inefficient at nutrient uptake and so fertiliser longevity is compromised once the nutrient has moved past the surface roots. This leads to ‘light switch’ tendencies, i.e one minute the surfaces look fine, the next, they are yellowing off / thinning.
  2. Excess surface fibre will swell when wet and effectively ‘cap’ the surface reducing water movement from the surface to the rootzone below. This manifests itself as a soft surface, prone to foot-printing and also puddling / flooding after low amounts of rainfall, so more course / ground closures due to reduced playability.
  3. Increased pathogen activity – This costs money plain and simple, as a wetter, more stress-susceptible surface, is a calling card for Fusarium, Dollar Spot, Anthracnose Foliar Blight, Anthracnose Basal Rot, Fairy Ring, Thatch Collapse, Plant Pathogenic Nematodes to name but a few. All of these require treatment with expensive fungicides that cost upwards of £600 per hectare per application.
  4. Stress is also increased due to a decrease in the actual mowing height because the mower sits down in the thatch surface and so instead of cutting at a bench-set 4mm say, you may actually be cutting at <2mm. This puts the plant under more stress and heightens issues on the turf related to stress.

What’s to be done ?

Firstly, and I want you to understand I’m well aware of this one, as we move out of the scheduled aeration window during March, there are commercial implications associated with aeration. Clubs don’t want to see poor surfaces when the weather eventually obliges people to come out and play, they don’t want to suffer decreased revenue, especially on the back of what has been a very lean past 5 months and a lean 7 months prior to that. This I can totally understand, but doing nothing will ultimately cost money, when, depends on how bad the issue is, if it’s already reached unacceptable accumulation, you will be spending more money already keeping the surface clean from disease and ultimately you will be closing more than you should have to after rainfall.

For me, the first choice is to try and re-schedule the aeration so organic matter is removed and topdressing is incorporated, this is key. Even before that though, get some benchmarks established so you know the extent of the problem you have or may not have. That way you can also assess progress. Looking at the forecast, I can’t see that re-scheduling being this side of Easter, so personally I’d look to w/c 8th April onwards and let’s see what the weather is like then.

Next up is to look at changing the type of aeration to lessen the time the surface is affected. Two choices here, the first is to decrease your tine size if you are hollow coring and if practically feasible, tighten your block spacings so you still impact the same % of the surface as with a larger tine, but the tine holes are smaller and so the effect on play is diminished and heal time is quicker, that’s a fact. On my previous blog I posted a link to surface displacement with hollow coring / vertidraining / Graden work published by the ISTRC, but here it is again just in case you need it – ISTRC

The drawback is that smaller tines don’t eject as well, particularly when wet and the holes close up quicker and so getting topdressing into them effectively to fill the holes is harder, but those new contra-rotating brushes (see here) are smart bits of gear if you can afford to run to them (or hire them in)

The next option is to solid tine and topdress, so even if you aren’t removing organic matter, you are diluting it and most importantly you are providing channels for anaerobic gases to be vented. You’ll still need to tackle surface fibre and to do this you’ll need to wait for temperatures / active growth to commence and then scarify / verticut on a regular basis, ideally followed up by topdressing and brushing / drag-matting in, to work the dressing into the surface fibre and thereby provide channels for air and water movement.

For some of you groundsman out there that follow this blog, the job for some at present is to convert winter season pitches into cricket playing areas and I think here the weather will oblige, provided of course, your pitches are well drained. As we move into a southerly / south-westerly airstream, we will increase soil temperatures and that’ll allow the plant to generate new leaf after the cutting height has been reduced. I’d be targeting an application of low-temperature available fertiliser this week or early next week to stimulate growth and allow the transition to take place.

I’d just like to sign off by saying that I fully appreciate that all of your situations aren’t necessarily the same as the ones I’ve described, most likely they are even more challenging in terms of playing conditions, revenue streams, etc, but all I’m seeking to do is to chat through some options, simply that….good luck and all the best…

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 11th

 

Hi All,

Apologies for the delay this Monday, my computer decided to throw a hissy fit, hence the delay in getting this blog out, still snowing mind….

To be looking out of my office window on March 11th and see the snow showers rattling in from The North Sea, -5.6°C wind chill on my weather station and note that the first Sand Martins reached Leicestershire yesterday after travelling all the way up from Africa, is surreal. Poor buggers, but they wished they had stayed there, not much hope of them surviving this week’s weather… It’s even more surreal when you consider a week ago we were tracking into double figure temperatures and I recorded 17°C, last Tuesday, well that’s a peak and a trough in action folks and no prizes for guessing what we’ve got this week :(

Before I go onto the weather, I was in Germany on Friday and picked up a brochure on a plant-growth regulator, produced by a well-known, large German company, no names of course. When you consider the fact that the thrust of the E.U Thematic Strategy on Pesticide Use originates from the German Green Party, and that their intent is to minimise risk to the end-user and the public, I was intrigued to see this picture in the brochure showing the application of said product to turf and the preventative clothing the operator was wearing….a clear case of “Do as I say, not as I do” me thinks….,mmm nice jeans….:)

General Weather Situation

Sometimes it’s tempting to sum this up in one word, but in the pursuit of professionalism, I’ll try to do my best with what is a pretty grim forecast.

For Monday, we have a bitter day all round really, with a north-east wind pushing snow showers in a two-pronged attack, the first stretching along the east coast from the Scottish border to Kent and the second, a front along the south coast of England, stretching from the south-west to Kent, the latter looks the potential heaviest. There’s another band of snow showers tracking along the east coast of Ireland and it’ll affect the high ground of Munster and Leinster in particular through the day. In between the showers, they’ll be some sunshine, but it’ll feel plain bitter. Later on those snow showers will form inland and affect northern England and The Midlands, though they’re likely to push through all day long. For Tuesday, we have more snow for Scotland and the east coast in particular, but as is always the way, snow, like rain, is tricky to predict, so when in doubt check the radar on Meteoblue to see where it is falling, if you’re concerned about travelling…They’ll be more sun around on Tuesday for the rest of the U.K and Ireland and this will quickly thaw the snow despite temperatures being nothing to shout about, barely rising to 3-4°C, but feeling colder in the wind. For Wednesday, a bright, cold start is predicted, but soon the morning sunshine will give way to a band of snow / sleet / rain showers stretching down the east coast from Aberdeenshire to Kent and these will move inland through the afternoon / evening. For Thursday, we have a subtle change on the way as the wind moves from the north to the south-west and pushes milder, wetter air into the picture. So a bright start for the U.K, but that rain will push into Connacht on Thursday morning and sweep eastwards, initially falling as snow where it butts up against that cold air sitting over the U.K in the afternoon / evening. The momentum will be with the westerly airstream, so that rain will reach all parts, preceded by snow, by Thursday night and so a wet, milder start for Friday, with a dry spell in-between, before another heavy rain band pushes across the U.K later in the morning. Ireland will have showers and perhaps a heavier band of rain tracking along the south coast of Munster through the day. Temperatures should be 6-7°C, so mild enough to shift any remaining snow away. By the weekend, this low pressure is well and truly in charge, but because it’s sucking cold air off the northern continent, it won’t be a mild, westerly low, it’ll pull in a mix of rain, sleet and snow over Saturday and Sunday, with potentially heavy rain for Leinster, the south of England and The Midlands on Saturday. (p.m.)

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to be unsettled as low pressure is in charge, so a westerly / southerly air stream, which means we should be out of the coldest air, but it will still be chilly and damp, with plenty of rain showers and no clear signal that Spring has finally started unfortunately.

 Agronomic Notes

With the cold weather arriving overnight and snow falling for many, air and soil temperatures have plummeted. The same day last year, we had a maximum air temperature of 16°C and soil temperatures were approaching double figures, so growth was well and truly underway. This year we’re looking at a soil temperature of 2.5°C, lower than I can ever remember it for mid-March and that means those looking for growth will be kept waiting, unfortunately. At the moment I’d just be kids-gloving it, leaving greens be and waiting for soil temperatures to rise later in the week as the milder rain arrives. We’re going to pretty reliant on low-temperature N forms for growth this month, so ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate, etc will be the order of the day and application rate-wise, I’d be tweaking rates up, as and when you finally get round to applying a granular, because the soil temperature / grass dormancy status is coming from a lot further back. I’d also be relying more on granular fertilisers than liquids because the amount / type of N applied is more persistent in granular form than liquid and if next week does indeed turn out wet and cool, this will suit granular applications, more so than liquids.So again, targeting moss with iron applications will be ideal next week, but I’d leave it be this week because of the high likelihood of frosts.

I expect some disease activity with last week’s milder weather and then moisture, but with the colder temperatures, this shouldn’t be too aggressive. Control-wise, it’s tricky at present because plant uptake of chemical actives will be limited, so I wouldn’t even try to apply a fungicide this week, even if you have some Fusarium activity. I saw more examples of the results of Fusarium outbreak under the February snow last week and again it followed the same pattern, that of hitting the drier greens or drier areas on greens, rather than the more typical, wet, shaded, micro-climate greens.

Lots of Corvid (Crow Family) activity in roughs at present as we see both Bibionid and Leatherjacket activity, right in the surface of the sward, however I’d wait before applying any control because the high rainfall levels anticipated later in the week may take any active ingredient down through the surface and away from the target grubs, so again, hang-fire here…

That’s all for now, wrap up well and like all of us in this industry, we just have to grind it out till the sun arrives to warm our backs…

Mark Hunt