Monthly Archives: May 2014

May 27th

 

140526_gfs_pres_gfs_loop_eu

Hi All,

Well the fickle continental rain didn’t quite arrive on the days I forecast, but arrive it did! We collected 28mm overnight Wednesday / Thursday, another 24mm overnight Friday into Saturday and today (Tuesday) the rain gauge is up to 12mm so far today and the radar is showing rain for the rest of the morning. Receiving 3 inches of rain in such a short space of time brings with it some consequences for those of us maintaining turf but more of that later. Our situation with the fractured jet stream continues, currently the strongest part of it is sitting down near Africa, and rather bizarely once we get towards the end of the week, our weather will not be subject to a high or low dominant pressure system, we’re just going to be sitting in a vacuum for a few days. As I commented back in April: having a jet stream that sits south increases the chance of cooler, wetter conditions and that’s certainly the case if you look at the Unisys loop above. The trough is stretching right across from America to Russia, with nothing moving from left to right due to the non-functional jet stream.

General Weather Situation

So let’s kick things off and see how the week and the outlook pan out. Tuesday kicks off fine and dry for Ireland, but for the west coast of the U.K. and the east, there’s a band of rain present. For The Midlands and east coast of England, rain is set to move off the continent to bring a soggy day for sure and, looking out of my office window, I can see that’s the case. Temperatures are nothing to shout about, low to mid-teens for most but, north of this rain band, it shouldn’t be too bad a day, though cloud cover will peg temperatures back in the easterly / north-easterly winds.

Overnight into Wednesday, that continental rain slowly sinks south-west affecting the east and south-east areas of England and Wales. Further north of it looks good and again Ireland looks to have a fair day with a sunny start. As we approach Wednesday morning rush hour, there’s a potential for heavy rain to move in off the continent to affect The Midlands and north of England, with another band threatening the Home Counties. Currently it’s projected to affect an area from London up to York, with the heaviest rain over The Midlands.  By the afternoon, that rain is moving westwards into Wales and as it does it pushes cloud cover across Ireland. By Wednesday evening the rain moves into Leinster and Munster, but dissipates as it does so… Temperatures remain low for the end of May under that cloud and rain, but north of this into Scotland, the outlook is much drier and temperatures should push up to mid-high teens in places.

As we move into Thursday, that rain is still pulling in off the continent, so again for that belt stretching from London up to York, Thursday looks potentially wet I’m afraid and that rain is extending all the way across the Irish Sea so a showery day for Ireland with rain moving across country from east to the west (now you don’t often read that about Ireland and its rainfall :)). As we progress through Thursday, the rain begins to lighten and clear and as it does so, there’ll be much more sun over Scotland and the north of England. It won’t be ’til late in the day that it clears the west and Ireland though. Temperatures will be a little higher in this lighter rain and the winds again will be light and from the east.

Closing off the week, we will see the last of that light rain pushing off the south-west of England and, behind it as we lose the cloud cover; the sun comes out pushing temperatures nicely into the high teens and potentially higher, so we finish the week with a nice day and hopefully a dry cut! Winds will remain easterly / north-easterly and light.

So how are we looking for the weekend (Bank Holiday for Ireland I think)? Well not bad initially anyway, a lot drier for most of the U.K. and Ireland, with just a chance of some light rain affecting east Munster and Leinster on Saturday. There should be a good dollop of sun around for most areas and temperatures will be pleasant, high teens I think. Overnight into Sunday, there’s a chance of some light rain affecting central Scotland, but nothing significant. Sunday doesn’t look as good for Ireland though as a band of rain is set to push into west Munster and Connacht and push slowly eastwards, so the best of the weather here will be to the south and east of the country. There looks to be more cloud cover around on Sunday and maybe it’ll be heavy enough to kick off some showers over northern England later in the afternoon, but it should be dryish for most of us.

On a personal note, my advice is to get any outside jobs done over the weekend, get them beds and borders under control and lawns cut because you’re not going to get much chance the week after…

Weather Outlook

The low pressure system that is set to make the Irish Bank Holiday a bit of a drab one is set to drift south overnight on Sunday and introduce an unsettled theme for the start of June. This means rain will be an ever-present feature of next week’s weather I’m afraid, with potentially a very wet mid-week to end of week period as rain is pushed up from the south-west. There’s just a chance that following this low pressure system, a nice bit of warmth could come into play for w/c the 9th June, but don’t hold your breath….

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

As we round out May, the combination of high temperatures a week ago followed by heavy rain for a lot of areas has really ramped up the disease pressure with a wet leaf and highPicture1 humidity aiding fungal growth. One disease that I’ve already seen a major increase in over the last few days is Red Thread. It just loves prolonged, wet conditions, with mild temperatures and the associated high humidity. Of course in the old days, Red Thread used to be associated with low fertility and the advice was to fertilise to increase growth and thereby directly remove the leaf and associated fungus. Nowadays we see it occurring on areas that are growing well and have been fed recently so that doesn’t seem to hold true. I think we see more Red Thread now primarily because of climatic conditions favouring its rapid establishment and because of the more frequent use of PGR’s. Think about it, if you slow down the rate of growth, particularly upright growth, you’ll remove less clippings and so less Red Thread fungi when you cut, so this allows the disease to become more established.

Now it’s a catch 22 situation because of course, when you have mild temperatures and frequent moisture, you are more likely to apply PGR’s to peg back growth. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t :(!  I also suspect that the modern-day Ryegrass cultivars are more susceptible to damage by Red Thread due to their finer leaf habit, but that’s just a hunch I have.

Of course Red Thread won’t be the only disease of note over this period with Fusarium sure to make an appearance and as I suggested last week, Fairy Ring and Superficial Fairy Rings. Now it’s difficult sometimes not to reach for the ChemSafe and put down a control, but key to avoiding this during this period is to make sure that the plant is healthy and with adequate, but not excessive nutrition. Secondly removing some of the contributing factors to disease, namely organic matter is a definite must-do if you want to see less Fusarium and Fairy Ring. Lastly and this is always a tricky call, keeping surfaces as dry as possible with light and frequent topdressing. Tricky because finding a weather and golfing window can be problematic (just look at last weeks and this weeks as an example) and also because the south part of the U.K. is currently suffering a shortage of good quality topdressing, with some of the established quarries closing down earlier this year. Quite how this will pan out longer-term is hard to say, but with competing industries for sand (construction, football pitch renovation, etc.) it doesn’t look great at the moment.

Pale and Washed-out Turf

It’s often easy to forget but when we get these huge hits of rainfall, nutrients are often lost quite quickly and so turf can go off colour. Simlarly areas that have been fertilised recently, particularly with foliar applications can look pale, even though it’s growing quite well. I think PGR’s can play a role in this because they definitely knock the colour out if they’re applied during cool and wet conditions. It’s not a criticism of PGR’s per say, more an observation and usually the effect is temporary.

It’ll therefore come as no surprise to many that areas of turf will look a bit pale and pasty this week, particularly areas of outfield turf with high Poa content (which is still in the throws of seeding). With the rainfall forecast for areas this week and next week looking like another wet one, granular fertilisers are one way to pep up outfield surfaces at present, if they’re looking a bit washed out. Ideally an analysis with some iron in will work well (colour without growth), but although the temptation may be to apply a good hit of N, remember you’re going to need to cut the area as well! Alternatively if you’re lucky enough to find a spray window, then a small nutrient input with low temperature N forms and iron and magnesium to improve colour, should tide things over till the weather improves.

Cutting Height

One last point that’s sometimes forgotten is when we have prolonged rainfall and hence wetter surfaces, we’re often cutting slightly lower because the mower tends to sink down into the soft upper organic matter layer and so the bottom blade is cutting lower. I’ve seen a machine that’s bench set at 3.5mm, cutting a mm lower in such a scenario and because we’ve taken more leaf off, we lose some colour.

A tad tricky out there at the moment, so fingers-crossed for a weather break sometime soon…

All the best

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

May 19th

140519_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur_2

Hi All,

For many in the central, south and south-west regions of the U.K, these last 4 – 5 days have seen some lovely weather with very high temperatures topping at 25.5°C here yesterday. Further north and west, this hasn’t been the case with a rain front spoiling the party I’m afraid. This is going to be the scenario for many this week, as low pressure begins to influence our weather. Now we’ve seen this before, but when we have a low pressure system fixed in a trough, the rainfall tends to be heavy and localised as it rotates around a fixed point rather than moving through. It”s also going to be very hard to forecast accurately, so check your local Weathercheck service frequently because you’re going to see it fluctuate a lot this week.Brugge

Don’t think we’re the only ones with rainfall issues though, I got sent this picture of Bruges last week and you can see the volume of water falling there…(cheers Bernie)

 

Staying on the continental theme for a while longer, one of my othKitKatGTer colleagues in Switzerland believes the combination of coffee and chocolate taken together, (I agree wholeheartedly by the way Tobias :)) is extremely good for the mind and body, so imagine my surprise when I was offered this chocolate accompaniment to a cuppa at a club over here the other day (Ta Sean) …It’s a Green Tea -flavoured KitKat from the Japanese market and very nice (and different) it was too, so Nestle, get your act together and bring them over here please……ok onto the weather…

jetstreamsplit090514

Image courtesy of Netweather Extra

General Weather Situation

Last week the projections were for a trough to form in the jet stream and allow low pressure onto the scene, this is still due to happen, but just look at how low the jet stream is running, (almost down to Africa) and the severity of the trough formation…

 

 

So Monday is set to be a beautiful day in the Midlands and south of the U.K, sadly the last really nice day for a while before things take on a more unsettled theme (already the case in the west and north). For Ireland we have a swirl of rain fronts that are set to push east over the country and into Wales and the south-west of England, I’m guessing this could trigger off some thunderstorms over these areas. By the afternoon that rain pushes into north-west England and Scotland and rotates around back into Connacht and Donegal, as it does so. Temperatures will be variable, mid twenties in the dry, south of England, high teens in the rain-affected areas of the west and north and somewhere inbetween in the south-west of England and Wales. Winds will be from the south-east and moderate through the day.

Overnight into Tuesday, that south-east wind will funnel rain up from the continent in a line stretching from the Isle of Wight up diagonally (\) to Donegal. This rain could be very heavy as moist air meets hot air and accompanied by thunderstorms and localised downpours. During the late morning, this rain is set to move north and slightly east, but remember there’s a lot of uncertainty about continental rainfall movements, so don’t text me saying nothing was forecast and now it’s lashing down, just keep an eye on the weather regularly, quit bitching and deal with it :). At present Ireland is set to be wet, particularly across the west and north and the same is true for the U.K with that rain front moving up the west coast during the afternoon / evening. Temperatures will be down on the highs of Monday (for the south) with a pleasant 20ºC in the south and high teens again elsewhere…the wind will be more easterly in orientation.

Moving onto Wednesday, that rain clears Ireland and the U.K, so a dryish start for most (some showers still lingering north and west), but during the early morning, we’re set for more rain from the continent. Now I’ll repeat one last time, whoever is forecasting, this type of rainfall can change on the flick of a coin, so bear that in mind. The current projection is that the rain will push initially into the south-east of England and then along the east coast of the U.K, before more, heavier rain arrives in the middle of the afternoon and swiftly moves up across most of the country (the north / Scotland may miss this initially). Ireland on the flipside looks to be dry on Wednesday, so there’s a change :) Temperatures will be noticeably cooler in the south as that wind takes on a north-eastern feel, so much duller and cooler for most on Wednesday.

Overnight that rainfall is set to intensify, so a pretty turbulent one on the cards with potentially heavy rain into Thursday for the south-east of England / east coast. Elsewhere it shouldn’t be as bad initially, but as that rain band swirls around, it drags more rain into the south-west of England and Wales. By late morning, that rain is also affecting Scotland and again it could be potentially heavy here, as the rain rotates within the low pressure system. (It may also affect the north of Ireland and Donegal later in the day, but the rest of Ireland looks to miss the worst. Depending where you are in terms of proximity to the low, it’ll either pull milder air up from the south with the rain (South of England / Midlands) or cooler air down from the north-east (north of England / Scotland / Ireland). Temperatures will be high teens in the south and low teens in the north and west depending on the wind direction. It also looks to be pretty wind to boot !

Closing down the week we have more rain associated with that fixed low, at present it looks to affect a band central to the U.K and Ireland, amounts also look to be lighter than earlier in the week as things settle down a bit. During the day, the rain moves northwards and eastwards, so many areas will be a bit drier than of late. (hopefully) As that low rotates, it pushes the wind up from the south, but only mid-teen temperatures for many. Further north, you’ll be getting cooler air though the wind direction will swing round to the south-west. The wind will be lighter on Friday in intensity.

An early look at the Bank Holiday weekend shows a calming down of the weather, but it looks to stay cool and unsettled with rain set to move in during Sunday and Monday. They’ll be some sunshine between the rain, but temperatures are set to be mid to high teens at their best.

Weather Outlook

With no significant jet stream in place for the start of next week, nothing is going to change anytime soon, so remaining on the cool side and unsettled as we go into next week. I expect more rain through the week, with sunshine in between (so more typical of April weather than late May) and perhaps heavier rain from mid-week / next week. Winds will be lighter though.

You’ll see an additional Unisys loop at the top of the blog this week and this displays rainfall projections over the next 10 days. Rainfall is shown as light rain in purple, heavier rain in blue and heavy / torrential rain in green. The two loops run simultaneously so you can see how the weather systems change and the associated effect on rainfall patterns, I hope you like it.

Agronomic Notes

High Disease Pressure Forecast

With high temperatures for some of you and the arrival of rainfall, we’ll see some elevated humidity for a period and that’ll trigger off disease activity. So I expect to see high activity from fungal pathogens, particularly Superficial Fairy Ring / Fairy Rings over the next week or so once the rain arrives and possibly some Waitea patch. If you have to / want to treat, it looks like Axoxystrobin is the way to go here, ideally mixed with a wetting agent, but don’t water this in too much (rainfall or irrigation) because we tend to see these pathogens in the top 20mm of the profile.

There was some Fusarium kicking around earlier this month, but it tended to decline with the drier weather oflate. Expect this to make a re-appearance, though with the combination of warm soil and moisture, it’ll mean you’ll be cutting it out as quickly as it comes in.

Sorry to be a bit doomy and gloomy, but Red Thread tends to love this type of weather as well, so I’d expect to see that making an appearance, even on areas that have good nitrogen levels and are growing well…

Etiolated GrowthEtiolated Growth

A more autumnal turf malody that’s currently raising it’s head in the north and west is Etiolated growth (see above). I expect this to become very prominent elsewhere this week when the rain arrives. It’ll be especially noticeable on collars, fairways, approaches and sportsfields. Not much you can do about it I’m afraid, except grin and bear it.

I wonder if using the ‘sweep and fill’ brushes will have a positive effect on its appearance around golf greens ? (i.e standing it up better prior to cutting )

Leatherjackets

Leatherjacket

I’ve seen some weak fairway areas around over the last couple of weeks, especially those that have been vertidrained and on examination there’s a huge number of Leatherjackets present, even though the areas have been sprayed in the Spring with Chlorpyrifos. The other point of note was that the larvae were very big, maybe 40-50mm long and with significant fat reserves, so it’ll make them quite hard to get a kill even if you haven’t already sprayed and can do so. (Maximum number of applications for managed amenity turf = 1 per annum) So if you have the odd weak area that isn’t responding to fertility you can bet your bottom dollar, these guys are having a munch.

Locking the growth down on outfield areas

With warm soil, imminent rainfall and a Bank Holiday looming for some of us, the early part of this week is a good time to get a PGR on to ‘lock down’ some of that growth and make next Tuesday’s cutting expectations more manageable. With areas growing well, I’d only be looking to tank mix in some iron with my PGR application, rather than adding a liquid / soluble fertiliser as well. You may also need to go up on the application rate because of the growth rate at present and anticipated this week.

Wetting Agent Application

As if you haven’t got enough things to keep you occupied on the run up to the Bank Holiday (U.K only I think), the hot weather in the south will have dried a lot of areas out, especially with the strong wind of late. Today’s E.T is currently tracking at over 5mm moisture loss, so expect to see some plant stress showing on mounds, raised areas and even on heavier soil rootzones. The rainfall of this week should take care of that nicely but applying a wetting agent before it arrives should work well….

E.TLossMay2014

You can see from the graph above that an ‘open site’ situation like The Oxfordshire has been subject to a total E.T loss of just over 20mm over the last 5 days, which typically means 10mm replacement if the soil type is light…I appreciate those of you in the north and west have not had the temperature and have had the rainfall, so this won’t be such an issue for you.

That said, if you have Leatherjackets grazing on your turf roots, you’ll see not only a lack of response from fertility, but an increasing propensity for areas to drought out as the grass plant is unable to control moisture levels efficiently. (Because the root system is damaged)

Lot’s to think about, off to tackle the in tray…. :(

All the best..

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 12th

140512_gfs_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

A cool and unsettled weekend for many with some pretty gusty winds, but we have a nice bit of warmth on the way later this week, though indications are that it won’t hang around too long unfortunately, but at least it’ll be dry and warm during this period :)

General Weather Situation

Monday is kicking off for many dull and largely dry, save for a band of rain affecting North West Scotland. This rain band will sink south and be joined by another pushing down from the north-west of England to bring showers / heavier spells of rain for many later in the morning / afternoon. These showers / rain will track south-east into The Midlands and across to the east coast through the afternoon. Ireland will mirror the U.K with heavy showers / bands of rain pushing into the north west and then tracking south-east towards Munster across the country. It looks like the area south and west of a line from North Wales to London may stay dry, but there’s always a risk of some rain in the south-west and south-east of England. Temperatures will be similar to the weekend, so low teens, but the wind will be lighter and from the north-west, though still blustery in the rain.

For Tuesday, we have a drier start for many, but again there’s a risk of some light rain affecting the north-west of England. During the late morning those showers will consolidate and again push inland down from the north Welsh coast tracking south-east across The Midlands and south of the U.K. This time it looks like Ireland and Scotland / north of England should have a much better day, dry for the most part, with maybe a chance of light rain affecting the coast of Connacht. For most temperatures will be similar to Monday, low teens and the wind will remain from the north-west.

Wednesday looks a much better day for all of us save for a weak rain front that will skirt Connacht and then push up to Donegal and later into the north-west of Scotland. Aside from that we look to be dry, warmer and with hazy sunshine pushing temperatures into their mid-teens. This is a result of high pressure pushing in and beginning to influence our weather for the 2nd part of the week.  That northern rain will continue to track eastwards through the day affecting central and eastern Scotland later in the day. Winds will be northerly, but light.

Thursday looks to be a bit of a north-south divide, except the dividing line will be probably be Nottingham /  Carlow. North of this, a rain front will push into Donegal and track south across Ireland, possibly reaching down into southern Leinster. For the U.K, this same rain front will affect Scotland early doors and then it’ll move southwards, though there’s a suggestion that it may be more confined to the east coast during the day, rather than the west. Further south it’ll be a lovely day, hazy sunshine with temperatures climbing into the high teens with light winds, predominantly from the north. It’ll be a much milder night on Thursday compared to earlier in the week, with temperatures unlikely to dip below double figures.

Closing off the week we have a lovely day on the cards with only the far north-west of Scotland looking to hold onto some rain. For the rest of the U.K and Ireland it’ll be warm, dry and potentially those tempertures could rise to 20°C during the day. Winds will again be light and kind of a mixed bag really, initially northerly, but then swinging round to the west.

I’d love to say the outlook for the weekend looks fine and dandy, but it doesn’t. That said, Saturday may just hold onto that dry weather for just a little while longer in The Midlands and south of England compared to the west and north which will come under the influence of a northern low. (again). So it’s looking unsettled for Ireland and Scotland with rain soon into the western coasts of both, before tracking eastwards. Further south it will feel cooler, with noticeable more cloud cover and the wind swinging round to the west. Later on Saturday evening and overnight into Sunday, that rain is across Ireland and most of the U.K with some potentially heavy bursts amongst it. So Sunday looks back to an unsettled weather picture, with cooler temperatures, a north-west wind and widespread rain.

 Weather Outlook

You’ll note from the Unisys weather image above that the low pressure system that swings in over Saturday looks to stay in situ for the best part of next week. Ok things can change for sure because only 3 days ago it looked like high pressure was in charge next week, but I think on balance it looks like next week will be cool, unsettled with potentially some heavy rain around. You’ll note that rather than the low coming in from the west and then moving across into Europe, it actually comes down from the north and then stays put. This is precisely what we’ve seen before when we have a low jet stream forming into troughs and this feature typically characterised the summers (if you can call them that) of 2008 and 2012, to name but two.See image below for next Monday’s projection and that jet stream trough….

Jet stream trough190514

Image courtesy of NetWeather

Not wishing to be the harbinger of doom for summer 2014, but unless we see a hike up in the jet stream, it ain’t looking great :(

Agronomic Notes

Anticipated Growth Flush

Well firstly it looks like we have a flush of growth coming later in the week and this will probably include greens as well as outfield (greens have been noticeably slow to react this year, particularly those with high levels of perennial Poa), it doesn’t look like lasting long, (Maybe 3 days or so depending on where you are, see image below…)

GDDMay2014

Spray Window

So if you want to take advantage of this to get good uptake into the grass plant, then look to apply on the upward slope, say Wednesday onwards. When I say gain uptake, that could be anything from a targeted foliar application, a PGR to lock down areas ahead like outfield areas, tees, etc ahead of the flush or a selective herbicide application where you have some weeds to target and need some dry conditions and good uptake of the applied A.I. With the weather pattern as it is this may be the only spray window for the next 7-10 days if you’re looking to get foliar uptake, rather than a root / soil treatment.

Lads and lasses in the north and west will have a much shorter opportunity of course because the low is going to bring rain to those areas first, so you’ll have to pick your days and of course the temperature / growth spike won’t be as large :(

TPC Sawgrass – Some thoughts…

I’ve been following the events related to the above since it became news that there was a problem with the putting surfaces. You have to say it’s rare nowadays for this to happen, especially in the U.S, you also have to remember that they’re coming off the back of one of their most severest winters on record and that undoubtedly has played a part. You can read a balanced take on the situation here

Of course the associated media and commentators were quick to point the finger at the ‘greenkeepers’ for ‘mis-application of a product’, in this case, a growth regulator. Two things strike me here, the first is that according to Bert McCarty, Turfgrass Professor from Clemson State University, “….all products were applied according to manufacturers recommendations”, so that potentially means whatever occurred was a combination of severe weather and possibly incorrect timing of a PGR for the weather conditions. The second is I note that a ‘well respected source’ is quoted as saying “… regular repeated aerification that should be performed at the layout is not done so as to maximize play and revenue”
Bert McCarty added…
“The Stadium greens have excessive organic matter accumulation. This accumulation decreases air porosity and increases water held in the soil. This factor coupled with high levels of traffic increases compaction and wear, especially in limited pin-placement locations,” McCarty wrote. “The bermudagrass had insufficient root structure. This is from excessive thatch, high traffic levels and compaction.”

Sound familar anyone ?

Now it’s very easy to be wise after the event and I’m not including this in my blog for speculations sake either, we all know these things happen or at least have the potential to do so, but I’d emphasise two key points ;

1. We have to be as well informed as we can be weather-wise before we go out and apply products, not just the short-term forecast, but the type of season that#’s hsaking out. Just because a product is used at the label rate, doesn’t mean it is a correct application, if the health of the grass / weather conditions suggest otherwise.

2. We have to continually make the case with our heirachy about the need for aeration, even though it ultimately means coming up against the perennial balancing act between revenue, play and the quality of the putting / playing surfaces. The problem is the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality of a lot of the people we have to communicate with and personally I find it difficult to convince someone of the need to aerate when the surface ‘look good’, even though I can see issues stacking up for the future. It’s all about good communication and I take my hat off to you guys that have managed to achieve it with your clubs.

We all must remember and it’s worth reminding them, that it takes a long time to build up a reputation (for good surfaces for example) and a very short time to lose it…Players will only remember their last put or their last outing, that’s a given…

All the best…

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

May 6th

140506_gfs_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,Mayfly

Well, not a bad Bank Holiday weather-wise, but it finished with a dose of rain for many. With this weeks rainfall and especially with yesterday being warm in many places (here in The Midlands we shaded 20°C), it isn’t going to be great to get areas back ‘in cut’.

I guess it comes as no surprise to you that I was out fishing for some of it :) and had one of these settle in boat; it’s a Mayfly, aptly named of course, and quite rare nowadays on still waters. Sadly it generally only lives for one day in its adult form, but lovely to see if you like that kind of thing…

So how are we looking weather-wise? Well, cool and unsettled is the theme that we’ll take into mid-May: with that jet stream remaining low and allowing cool air to dominate the weather picture, I can’t see heat anytime soon :(. The good news however, from a turf growth perspective is that the unsettled picture means we lose the colder nights for the time-being, so that will allow good, consistent greens growth. More on that later.

General Weather Situation

For Tuesday we have a dry start for many after some heavy overnight rain. We had 6mm here, but I know The West received more than double that! That rain band will lighten, but still linger a little over the north-eastern coast of the U.K. clearing slowly. Elsewhere the sun will break through and it’ll be a pleasant day for many with temperatures in the mid-teens, possibly higher. For Ireland no sooner has the day started than a new rain band is pushing into the west coast and heading inland though it’s only projected to reach approximately half-way across the country, so draw a line up from say Mallow and left of it is wet, right of it is dry(ish). Scotland looks to be dry most of the day apart from some rain affecting the north-west later in the day. Winds will be moderate westerly / south-westerly.

Moving onto Wednesday that rain band pushes north-east and that kind of sets a trend for the main rainfall pattern this week. Affecting Ireland, the south-west / north-west of England and Scotland, as the bulk of the rain moves diagonally (/) across the U.K and Ireland. There’ll also be some rain lingering along the south-eastern coast of England / west coast of Ireland, early doors. As we move through the day there’s a risk of catching a shower in most places, but by late morning more rain is mowing across Ireland and into the west coast of the U.K affecting areas inland by early afternoon. This rain band is not expected to push much further east than Nottingham though, finishing off the day by pushing north-east again into northern England and Scotland. Elsewhere it’ll finish dry, with temperatures down on Tuesday by a couple of degrees due to more cloud cover.

Overnight into Thursday, we have another band of rain due to affect the south-west of U.K and Ireland (you get the picture by now, it’s a pretty unsettled week for many :(). This rain moves diagonally across both countries (\) to affect most areas through the day. Always difficult to say where will get the heaviest rainfall so use the radar on your Weathercheck for this purpose. The rain may not reach Scotland until the evening. Elsewhere the rain band will leave behind a raft of showers so Thursday looks unsettled with temperatures in the low to mid-teens, though as commented earlier, night temperatures will stay up nicely (unlike the end of last week). Winds will remain westerly / south-westerly.

We end the week much as we have spent most of it with a pretty unsettled day for many, especially in the west, north-west and north of the U.K. and Ireland. So we start the day with potentially heavy rain over the north-west of Ireland, England and Scotland and possibly North Wales. Through the morning this rain tracks south and eastwards to affect the north of England and potentially getting down as far as The Midlands, but we’ll see. The same happens across Ireland with that rainfall starting off in Donegal and then tracking east and south across country, again there’s a question mark as to how far south it’ll get. Through the afternoon that rainfall lightens and dissipates though still likely to affect the north-west coast of England and Scotland. Further south you may not even see the rain, so with clear skies you may pick up a couple more degrees of temperature, elsewhere it’ll be low to mid-teens with a brisk westerly wind.

At this stage it doesn’t look a very good forecast for the weekend, especially for Saturday with a band of heavy rain crossing the U.K. and Ireland and potentially taking most of the day to clear. It’ll also feel a bit cooler as cool moist air swings down from a low pressure system courtesy of that low-lying jet stream. Sunday looks marginally better, still very unsettled with bands of heavy showers and temperatures low teens in a cool, westerly / north-westerly wind.

Weather Outlook

Well not great really with the continuing low set jet stream, so next week looks like starting off possibly dry for the Monday, but thereafter we have an intense low pressure pushing rain in for Tuesday and Wednesday. We may have a brief lull in the rain for Thursday, but thereafter another low, not quite as intense as earlier in the week pushes in so; milder, but potentially wet for the north and west later in the week.

Agronomic Notes

There’s lots to talk about here after the Bank Holiday ;

GDD Information

Thanks to everyone for sending in their first 4 month totals, it makes interesting reading, have a look at some sample of locations and the April / y.t.d. End April 2014 readings ;

GDDApr2014locations

One thing that immediately strikes you is the highest GDD total is for North London (Muswell Hill actually, cheers Matt!) so I checked the figures to see why they’re so high and it’s interesting because it looks like locations in cities (or close to them) hold onto the day temperature longer, no doubt due to warmth being radiated off all those buildings, roadways, etc

Look at the average daytime and night time figures for April for 3 locations and you can see what I mean:

DaytimeNighttimeTemps

So that’s why North London is ‘Top of the Pops’ for total GDD: warmer nights through the Spring. It’s also interesting to compare locations and you can see the southern half of the U.K. is pretty similar by the time we get to the end of April.

GDD- How we stack up for the year

Wendy has been kindly slaving away with the number crunching to bring us up to date and this is how we look: (Download them here)

GDDmonthlycomparisonandcumulativeJantoDec2010to2014image

So you can see April wasn’t a bad growing month in terms of GDD, but the problem is / was the alternating temperatures through the month as explained last week and shown for the whole month below ;

GDDApril2014

So we had two main growth periods, one at the start of the month and one at the end, the middle was too variable to provide consistent growth, particularly on greens.

And Poa seedheads…

This has been reflected in Poa seedheads as well in that they first started to appear in early / mid-April on greens at about 170 GDD. These were mainly the annual Poa biotype seedheads and they slowly increased in number through the month, but visible seedheads were mainly isolated to this biotype. Curiously the timing was similar in different locations, even though the GDD was markedly different so this suggests that Poa seeding is not only influenced by temperature, day length may also play a part?

By the time we got into early May, the main Poa seedhead flush with both annual and perennial biotypes is well under way, so that’s about 230 – 250GDD over here and pretty much similar to other years (apart from last year when the season was much later) It’s noticeable that the GDD figures from Ireland are significantly lower for all locations except Kerry. It’s also clear that there’s a significant difference between the west and east coast in terms of growth potential, with the west further ahead in GDD terms. I would expect Poa to begin seeding earlier on the west coast than the east coast, anyone care to comment ?

Talking about growth…

I was looking at some surfaces last week that had been aerated and in the low lying areas the difference between the aerated and non-aerated areas was significant. It once again highlighted to me firstly the need for aeration and secondly how growth-limiting anaerobic soil situations can be, particularly when you have perennial Poa which grows in tight, densely-tillered patches.

See the images below:

Aerationeffect

Growth in aeration holes

Aerationeffect1

Close up of growth in a tine hole – perennial Poa

Aerationeffect2

Non-aerated area with suppressed growth due to lack of oxygen

By the way I fully appreciate that posting close up images with my digits somewhere in the mix firmly illustrates the fact that I bite my nails too much! But, if you were sitting in my seat most of the time, you would too… :)

We often have issues in the Spring with bumpy surfaces and uneven growth. It’s usually blamed on fertility, grass species, etc. and sometimes this is correct however, we must also take into account the fact that if an area has been aerated, you could see differential growth just because the plant is able to grow better due to more oxygen availability (which in turn increases respiration, nutrient uptake, etc.).

Now both areas (those that are responding and those that aren’t) may have received fertiliser, but it’s only the plants that have access to good soil oxygen levels that will respond. This is most marked on surfaces with high perennial Poa biotype populations (and therefore higher organic matter) and on those that might sit wet / anaerobic for some of the year (poorly drained rootzones, low spots on greens, etc.).

Warmer nights = more consistent greens growth

If you are seeing differential growth, you should try and aerate (spike or sarrell roll) to input oxygen over a wide surface area and also fertilise ‘little and often’ to maintain plant nutrient availability, not big spikes of nutrient, just a constant light input, with iron to maintain colour. One thing that will work in your favour coming up is the warmer night temperatures which will see growth rates hike up a bit as daily GDD’s will be around 5.5 to 6.0, even though the day temperatures are nothing to shout about. This should also grow out some of that pale turf aspect present on some areas at the moment.

Disease Activity

A quick round-up based on emails, phone calls, texts and visits indicates that we have some continued Fusarium pressure, particularly after the weekend with warmth and rainfall for many. I also expect to see more superficial Fairy Ring activity and the first signs of Ectoparasitic nematode damage manifesting itself.

PGR Applications

If you’re able (and it might be tricky this week with the rainfall), now is a good time to hit higher-height-of-cut areas with PGR’s because growth rates are likely to be strong with the milder nights. Don’t forget to put in some iron, especially on high Poa content turf because this will be the first to discolour with higher rates of PGR.

Ok, Ciao for now and all the best…

Mark Hunt