Monthly Archives: April 2017

April 24th

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Hi All,

So we begin the last week of April and what has been a cool and very dry month is set to end up on an even cooler note this week with some very raw northerly winds forecast and already present in Scotland. The Meteoblue prognosis for Thursday this week clearly highlights the trough of cold air we are set to experience and you can see it’s not only us. The cold air will extend down through most of Scandinavia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal as well. As I type this I can see people out for their morning run in a T-Shirt and shorts, not for long I’d say, not for long…coldairtroughApril17

But don’t put those shorts and sandals too far down in the draw because I reckon next week we may have our first proper heat of the year with early twenties likely. Just like we did in 2016, we will finish April cold and start May very warm, uncanny like.

So without further ado, let’s see how this chilly week is set to pan out…

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts with that cold front already present over Scotland and here we will see wintry showers for the north and north east of Scotland. We will also see some showers of rain over Wales, The Midlands, the north of England through Monday morning with a heavy band of rain moving down the north east coast of England. They’ll also be some showers, fewer and far between though across East Munster and these will track south and east through the morning pushed along by a north west wind. That wind is a feature of the day because as the cold air moves south it’ll be joined by a northerly rather than north westerly wind. This process won’t occur till Tuesday for central and southern England. As we go though Monday afternoon, skies brighten over Ireland and northern England, but that rain across the north east will be pushing down the coast into The Midlands and east of England later in the day. The wintry showers will also be on the move pushing down into northern England later on with snow over The Pennines later today ending up across the north east of England. As skies brighten later the temperature will drop rapidly leading to a widespread frost over England, Wales and some parts of Scotland. A wide variation in temperature with high single figures over Scotland and low to mid-teens across the south of England pushed along by a light to moderate, variable direction wind.

As we start Tuesday that cold feel will be apparent across the U.K and Ireland but we will see plenty of winter, I mean spring sunshine through the day across most of England, Wales and Ireland. The north east of Scotland though will see a continuation of those wintry showers and we will also see some lighter wintry showers over Central Scotland. These will push south across the Pennines through the course of Tuesday morning reaching the north Midlands by the afternoon and falling mainly as rain. As we progress through the afternoon we will see more showers pushing south over Wales, The Midlands and again especially down the east coast from The Humber Estuary south. Ireland looks to have a mainly bright, sunny but cold day though there will be some wintry showers over Donegal and north west Connacht through the afternoon. Temperature-wise, all change for the south of England as we join the single figure club along with Scotland, Ireland and Wales, with 7-9°C more the norm for Tuesday, kept down by an increasingly raw, moderate to strong, northerly wind.

Overnight into Wednesday and we have another risk of ground frost for Scotland and central regions of Ireland and England with maybe the west coast and Wales just mild enough to miss it. A dry start soon gives way to a mix of rain and sleet pushing down the east coast of England through into The Midlands later. Ireland will see rain over Donegal slowly move south into north Leinster and Munster through the course of the afternoon after a dry morning. There’s also a risk of wintry showers over Central Scotland and these look set to move south through the afternoon. So a largely dry start to the day but increasingly cloudy with some wintry showers with the highest risk down the east coast of England. Central and western regions of England, along with Wales look to have a bright, crisp and cold mid-week. Temperature-wise 7-10°C I’d say the norm for Wednesday accompanied by a moderate northerly wind.

Onto Thursday and we are set for a cloudy and cool day with wintry showers starting from the off across Scotland, maybe more central and westerly this time. This front of cloud will push south across most of the U.K and Ireland so a dull, cool day in store for many. Through the course of the morning that cloud will thicken enough for some rain coming down off The Mersey and pushing into The Midlands later in the day with a higher risk of showers across the east coast again as we progress through the afternoon.  So for many Thursday will be a dull, cool day with temperatures creeping up a little into double figures possibly for Scotland, Wales and Central England as that wind begins to move round slightly to the north west. So temperatures maybe just creeping up to 7-11°C, with the higher temperatures across the west.

Closing out the week on Friday we see that shift in the wind direction continue to westerly and that’ll continue to slowly lift temperatures up across Ireland, England and Wales. Another dull day with lots of cloud cover and some of it across Connacht may be thick enough for some mizzly, drizzle across Sligo and Mayo. The same may be true for East Anglia with a thick cloud mass forecast for Friday afternoon. It will be dry again for many with the exception being the north west of Scotland where you’ll see some showers push through in the afternoon / evening. Still cool despite the wind now being westerly south westerly, with 8-12°C, the temperature range across the U.K and Ireland, with the mildest temperatures across the south and west.

Now as we come to the weekend we see another weather change with a deep Atlantic low pressure pushing in and this is set to introduce a lot of wind and some welcome rain. So Saturday sees this band of rain pushing into the west of Ireland from the start of Saturday morning and by lunchtime it’ll be across most of Ireland and nipping the west coast of Scotland as well. Further south and east of this we will just see cloud and lots of it, so another dull day is on the cards. This band of rain will push east into all areas of the U.K later on Saturday, maybe early doors Sunday clearing Ireland as it does so. Since it’s a northerly low, it will feel cool in that strong westerly wind and this unsettled, cool and windy theme is set to last the whole weekend with further blustery showers forecast for Sunday along with a very strong westerly wind. Temperature-wise I think we will be 10-12°C, so nothing marvellous to shout about.

Now onto the following week…

Weather Outlook

So next week looks to start unsettled with more sunshine and showers and mild on that strong westerly wind. This continues through Tuesday but as we close out Tuesday, high pressure is set to push in from the south and east and stabilise our weather. Bad news for the areas desperate for rain because this high will pull up warm wind from the south and this will really ramp up temperatures from Wednesday, next week onwards, into the twenties I believe. Uncanny because as you’ll see from my notes below we went through the same process last year at exactly the same time.

Agronomic Notes

Lots to chat through this week…

Dry and Cool, that’s April 2017…

Firstly looking at April up until the end of last week we can see why for some it has been a bruising month, especially if you’re maintaining Poa annua-dominated greens as most of us are in the real world.

BrayGPRainaPRIL2017

Thanks to John at Bray Golf Club (that’s Bray in Co. Wicklow, south of Dublin for all you people scrambling for Google Maps :)) for sending over his GDD / G.P spreadsheet.

You may think comparing an Irish location with England isn’t relevant but if you look at the rainfall pattern, a total of 6mm in April, you can see they are as dry as we are on the east coast of Ireland. Many locations haven’t seen decent rainfall since the 3rd week of March so we are very dry this spring. Next week as we start May I’ll be doing my multi-location round up so we can compare stats, but for now looking at Bray, we are dry.

We are dry but also cold because you can see that during April we only had one day at this location where the daily growth potential exceeded 0.4, up until and including the 21st of April, so in other words growth levels were below-optimum.

Not great for Poa….

Poaannuaperannual

Dry cold as we know is a poor combination of conditions for Poa annua and it is during these conditions you become intimately familiar with the different biotypes in your greens. The image above shows a typical mixture of coarser, annual Poa annua biotype with thicker leaves, paler colour and seedheads already present and alongside it we have denser, bunch-type, perennial Poa annua with its slower growth rate, finer leaves and lack of seedheads (currently)

So if you roll a golf ball across this surface it won’t be smooth and consistent unless you are cutting low, have a light topdressing in place (to smooth out inconsistency) and are brushing regularly. The problem is trying to produce a surface in April isn’t likely to be easy when the plant isn’t growing sufficiently fast enough to grow through topdressing. Verticutting to get a smooth surface is only going to put the Poa under more stress so the best strategy if you’re in a situation of uneven surfaces is ‘little but often’. That ‘little but often’ relates to nutrition, topdressing and cultural work because we literally have to nurse the plant through these conditions until they change.

Now of course if you did all your aeration work earlier in the spring when we had moisture and temperature, you are unlikely to be faced with this situation, or less likely anyway.

Bit of disease around..

SpringFusarium

Last week we started the week with frosts but by the end of the week and over the weekend we had some milder nights and with some humidity around by Thursday / Friday so we saw an increasing amount of Microdochium nivale on fine turf. Now it didn’t look like winter Microdochium, it was more copper, yellow in colour and the patches weren’t as distinct but I feel pretty sure that the majority of it was this pathogen. So that combination of temperature, humidity and reasonably light, night time winds has driven the activity of this pathogen on.

For sure there’s also likely to be elevated levels of plant stress currently with the prolonged dry spell and this may indeed contribute to some plant pathogenic nematode activity as well but the cooling soil will have slowed down their activity for the time-being. Fortunately over the weekend, the milder night and day temperatures has also given us a growth kick, but this will soon be departing stage left as those cold, northerly winds arrive.

Looking ahead…GPApril2417

You can see from the GDD / Growth Potential schematic for this location in Central England that Tuesday to Thursday this week is pretty much a right off, growth-wise, so my advice is to sit tight on nutrition, PGR’s, selective herbicide applications and the like till we get through this cold spell and the unsettled period coming up over The Bank Holiday weekend (for some of us anyway). We aren’t going to go into a spring growth flush over the weekend, however if the weather pans out as expected, we will be in a whole new world this time next week and that’s the time to act in my view…

2016 all over again….

May2016GP1stweek

Now ‘if’ the weather does pan out as predicted and we run into a warm high pressure from mid-week, next week we will go from no growth to rapid growth pretty much overnight and that’s just what happened in 2016 for the same time period (see above). We went from a near frost on the 3rd of May and a Growth Potential figure of 0.17 to a maximum Growth Potential of 1.0, 4 days later resulting in a burst of growth and importantly seedheads.

Remember last week in my mini-blog I remarked how we’d rocked up to the point where Poa annua had produced the seedhead, but at that point it was still down in ‘the boot’ as they say Stateside, well over the weekend with the milder nights we have seen an increase in visible seedhead activity as the panicle extends beyond the leaf sheath. That’ll stop this week but ‘if and when’ we hit the high pressure and warmth, we will go white very quickly.

For me I think in terms of regulating growth, getting a response from applied nutrition and / or a selective herbicide, applying just before this growth flush will be the objective.

Ok that’s all for this week, lots on plate as per usual. By Tuesday next week we will know if the weather is going to play ball, but in the meantime, dig out the wooly hat and buff and wrap up well for this week :)

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

April 19th – Mini blog

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Hi All,

I did say I wasn’t going to post this week but I’ve managed to lever some time for a quick update on where I think we are and perhaps more importantly what I think is coming weather-wise. It’s a fact that April 2017 is rapidly turning out to be a hard growing month in some areas of the U.K and Ireland.

April2017

General Weather Situation 

A blocking Atlantic high pressure….

The issue we have currently during April is the presence of a blocking high pressure in The Atlantic (shown above) that is causing a number of weather processes to occur ;

Firstly, the path of rainfall is over us and down into Europe so we continue to be dry because if you remember my myriad of posts last autumn we had a similar blocking high pressure in situ during October and December 2016, Now cold and dry as I pointed out last week is a really poor combination to manage in terms of Poa annua because if it’s not temperature that is growth-limiting, it is moisture or indeed a combination of the two.

Secondly, the prevailing wind direction is northerly when you have a high pressure sitting out in The Atlantic because high pressure systems rotate clockwise so imagine the right side of that red high pressure circle shown above, it’s pulling down cold air from the north as it rotates in this direction. That means cool days but more importantly cold nights and these as we all know act as a hand brake to consistent growth.

SpringDayGP

The graphic above highlights the effect on growth of a cold night vs. a milder night with a near 60% reduction in growth despite the fact that the day temperature is the same.

Lastly, with north winds and a lower likelihood of rainfall we increase the chance of clearer skies, particularly at night and this means a higher risk of ground frost. So far in April 2017, up until and including this morning, we have had 10 ground frosts in some locations so 50% of the days have been scenario 1 in the schematic above. Milder night temperatures tend to result from a westerly or southerly wind direction in the spring and for only 5 days of the last 19 has the wind been from this direction.

So if we take all of that into account and look at how it has affected growth at our usual Thame location, this is how it has panned out so far this month up until April 18th.

GPApril2017TheOx

So a very up and down growth scenario with the odd day of good growth quickly followed by a ground frost and a sharp decline in growth potential. If I continued this graph through to today, the 19th of April, it would be dropping back again because of the last two cold nights with -4°C recorded overnight in Suffolk.

Plus / Minus

As my good friend Bernie says in Switzerland it’s plus / minus :)

I have listed the negatives of the current weather and the fact that if you are currently needing growth to get recovery, produce consistent surfaces on sportsfields maybe where you’ve made the transition from winter sports to cricket over Easter, it can be a tricky time to achieve this. That said, higher height of cut grass tends to be less affected by this type of growth scenario than greens height Poa annua.

There are some positives though because growth is manageable in outfield areas, we haven’t come back after Easter to grass round our ankles and clippings lying everywhere and consistent dry weather means playability in terms of un-interupted revenue is potentially good. It’s just the grass and some of us that don’t like the current weather :(

Using the windows…

It’s going to be fact that in 2017 the best growth periods of the spring were from mid-February to the end of March and up until then we were pilling on the GDD and way ahead of last year. April has so far put the brakes on that trend and once again we will rock right up to the point Poa annua wants to produce seed and then we’ll stop. The continued dry weather will however put Poa annua more and more in the way of seeding so you can rest assured when this weather pattern does finally break we will see alot of seedhead very quickly. Last April we had a ground frost on the last day of April and the 1st day of May, but 3 days later we were warm at night and during the day and we experienced a huge growth and seedhead flush.

It also means that if you are sitting reading this with good surfaces and everything where you want it to be, you likely used the above growth period to the best of its potential. Yet again it points the finger squarely at getting work done earlier ‘provided’ and it is I accept a big ‘provided’, ground conditions and resources on your site dictate that it is possible.

You can see this week that we have a couple of milder days coming up on Thursday and Friday with better GDD / Growth Potential (because the nights will be milder) but it drops back down again at the weekend as the wind swings round to the north and the night temperature drops :(

Meteoturf190417

How are we looking going forward ?

Weather-wise we have this stable high pressure over the rest of this week but with a slightly warmer feel as the wind will indeed temporarily shift to the west so you’ll see an increase in growth / uptake at the end of this week. It won’t last long though because by Monday it’s all change as we are set to see the winds ramp up from the north and that’ll push some unsettled weather down for the nest 2-3 days accompanied by strong northerly winds. So that means cooler with some rain (though not shedloads I think at this stage) before the high pressure re-establishes itself at the end of next week and we settle back down into the same pattern as described above.

Any light at the end of the tunnel ? Maybe, just maybe a change in early May but I’ll know more by next Monday…

Nutrition

Cool and dry isn’t a great combination for applying nutrition and with limited growth potential you can’t expect to see much from it either. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week are good application days because we look to hold better day and night temperatures so a foliar application made then will likely give a good effect. As usual you want low temperature-available nutrient forms so that’s potassium nitrate, ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate (though be careful with the latter). There’s no point in applying much above 6kg / N / hectare at present, more important than rate is frequency, ‘little, but often’ is the name of the current game and always mix a light rate of iron in when it is cool to maintain colour.

Sand cools down quicker than soil

One last important point, particularly if you’re dealign qith a mixture of rootoznes on your site (and let’s face it most people are..)

Sand rootzones tend to have a higher air-filled porosity than soil-dominated ones and this means they can hold more air (provided of course the particular size is coarse, medium-dominated). It also means that they are more ‘reactive’ because air being a gas will heat up quicker but also cool down faster than say water. So a dry, sand-dominated rootzone will heat up faster in the day but cool down faster at night whereas a soil-dominated rootzone will be slower to heat up and slower to cool down, in other words, less ‘reactive’ to temperature change…

………………………………………………………………………………

Ok, I’m past my 9 a.m. deadline for this mini-update :(, back to normal (whatever that is) next Monday. If you’d like to send your April to date GDD / G.P spreadsheets in at the end of the week so I can do a bit of a month-so-far comparison in next Monday’s blog, please feel free to do so.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

10th April

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Hi All,

Last week’s projected forecast for this week was a cold trough with unsettled weather, well we dodged a bullet there. The trough is now going to form to the east of us but a consequence is that it will drag down cold air in a mainly northerly pattern over the next 7-10 days so for some areas read cool and dry.

What a weekend though, scraping frost off the car early Saturday morning and by the afternoon 20°C, only to be capped by Sunday where we hit 24.5°C, absolutely beautiful. Those temperatures will be but a distant memory this week though. It all changed last night though as I was partaking in a quick evening session fly fishing with a lovely warm south westerly wind on my back. At about 7.20 p.m. the wind suddenly swung round to the north west and instantly the temperature dropped 5°C and the fish said nighty night :( (or at least that’s my excuse..)

Truly fantastic to see Garcia win The Masters last night, long overdue, brilliant that it finally came his way. Must have been my telly but some of the greens were ‘browns’, but weren’t they fast…

To cap it off In Argentina we had Oban’s John McPhee 2nd in Moto3 and Coventry’s finest – Cal Crutchlow 3rd behind Rossi in MotoGP…like I say, what a weekend :)

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts off with a mainly dry and sunny outlook for most places after a cool night. There’s a smattering of showers though over north west Scotland and The Highlands and these will move south across Scotland through the morning. Some of these showers will be wintry in nature. Further south and west over Ireland, England and Wales, we have a dry, settled day for most places but there is a chance of some sharp showers moving down the east coast through the early afternoon. By close of play we will see more rain into the north west Highlands of Scotland though some of it may be more wintry in nature. They’ll be plenty of cloud about on Monday and with that previously-referred to north west wind in situ, it’ll be about 10°C cooler than yesterday so I think 11-13°C will be the norm.

Overnight into Tuesday and we see that rain over the north west of Scotland push showers inland early doors over western and Central Scotland. For England, Ireland and Wales we look to have another dry day in store after a chilly night. Again plenty of cloud around across the north and north west but also some sunshine so all in all not a bad day. As we progress through the day that north westerly wind changes to a more westerly orientation and that’ll pull the temperature up a degree or two on Monday during the afternoon.  Ireland looks to have a dry  day for Tuesday and with more sun around and that westerly wind, a pleasant day for sure. Last knockings on Tuesday we see another band of rain and wintry showers arrive across the north west of Scotland and this threatens to push down the westerly coast overnight into Wendesday.

Moving onto Wednesday and overnight that rain has pushed south into Northern England bringing with it plenty of cloud cover. So a much cloudier day in store on Wednesday for the U.K with some of that cloud thick enough to bring some showers mainly down the west side of the U.K I think through the late morning. Dry again for Ireland and as we progress through the afternoon that cloud cover clears from the north and west so a sunnier end to the day here. Similar temperatures again on Wednesday with 11-13°C the norm with the lower temperature under cloud cover. The wind will be moderate to strong and from the west / north west.

Thursday dawns cooler I think after those clearing night skies allow the temperature to drop to low single figures. Less cloud around on Thursday initially so a good chance of some hazy sunshine but it’ll be a cooler day because the wind swings round to the north west. This may pull in some showers across Donegal and Connacht through the late morning / early afternoon. Dry elsewhere on Thursday but cooler as intimated above because of that fresh north westerly wind. Through the late afternoon we see more showers stack up across the north west of Ireland and later these will push into Western Scotland.

Onto Good Friday and overnight those showers have pushed south into Northern England overnight and across the north west of Ireland so an unsettled start to the Easter break here. Through the morning those showers consolidate across the north west of England and Wales. They’ll be thicker cloud for Ireland, some of it thick enough for drizzly mizzle through the morning. Cloudy and dull for England as well but maybe feeling a little milder as the wind swings round more westerly. (maybe) Those showers continue their march south and east through the course of Good Friday afternoon so it’s possible you’ll see some rain across The Midlands and East Anglia later on into Friday evening. Some of those showers across Scotland threaten to turn wintry through the course of Friday evening. Temperature-wise similar to the rest of the week, 11-13°C , depending on whether you’re under the cloud or get a glimpse of sunshine.

So how do we look for the rest of the Easter weekend ?

Well I think Saturday will stay unsettled, dull and cool with frequent showers across the north and west. Some of these showers will push south through the course of the day aided by our old friend that north west wind. So a cool day for Saturday, however we have high pressure edging in from The Atlantic so it’ll become sunnier from the west (so you get it first Ireland :)) and that sets the scene for a cool but sunny Sunday with temperatures rising in a diminishing northerly wind. A similar outlook for Bank Holiday Monday and Tuesday with settled, dry if cool conditions so all in all not so bad.

Weather Outlook

So after the Easter weekend how are we looking for the rest of next week, any rain on the horizon ? (Not for you eh Daire ? :) )

Tuesday looks like continuing the dry and settled theme but after that it’s all downhill. It looks like the high pressure system will gently exit stage right over the course of Wednesday and that’ll allow a cold, northerly low to push north winds and rain into Scotland and the north of England from Wednesday / Thursday onwards. So I think we’ll finish the week cold, unsettled with cold northerly winds in place. Let’s hope I’m way off :)

Agronomic Notes

Dry and cool following warm and dry, not the best combination for Poa annua….

The last 10 days or so has seen some increasingly warm weather culminating in what was for some, (not all I know) a very hot and windy day yesterday that saw the E.T (Evapotranspiration) rates shoot up. Dovetail that in with very little rain (again for some areas) and the fact that the GDD count is fully into Poa seeding mode and we have a recipe for a stressed out Poa annua plant.

ETTemp100417

Irrigation…I’ll give it 10 minutes…

This particular site had a little over 1mm of rain during the same period so the total moisture deficit over the first 9 days of April was 23.6 – 1 = 22.6mm. Now I generally work on the principle of replacing a minimum of 50 – 60 % E.T to keep soil moisture levels in the ‘sweet spot’, so that would mean applying 11.3 – 13.6mm of moisture by irrigation and / or irrigation + hand watering combination.

So how much did you replace if you’re managing a golf green in Central England ?

A lot of golf courses still irrigate by minutes and not mm and that isn’t a recipe for a stress-free life because chances are you’ll either under or over-irrigate. Ok if your irrigation system is not great and you can’t afford an E.T gauge then the cheapest way to accurately know what your irrigation system is doing with respect to moisture levels on your greens is to use a soil moisture meter. You can build up your own benchmarks for your site and most importantly you’ll be ‘in control’ of one of the most important parameters that affects your grass growth.

Where’s your Poa at Mr ? (or Mrs for that matter..)

I looked at some Poa cores recently that were taken from a location where the cumulative GDD had nudged up to 178 by the end of March and sure enough when you stripped away the lower leaves you could see a Poa seedhead lodged ‘in the boot’ on the majority of plants analysed… See images below…

OxPoa180GDD_5 OxPoa180GDD_1 OxPoa180GDD_3

Now this was over a week ago so these seedheads will be forming into a panicle and then this will be extended out from the leaf sheath in the form of a visible seedhead panicle. (shown below and note how poor the condition of the basal leaf is…)

OxPoa180GDD_4

It’s important to know what the consequences of high E.T and a potential moisture deficit is on your Poa annua (if that’s what you’re maintaining)…..

Firstly, it’ll drive it to produce seedheads because it’s under drought stress and it is the plants natural survival mechanism. The process of producing seedheads isn’t only affected by moisture stress, it is also affected by a low nutrient status so if you keep your Poa lean and mean, rest assured that it will drive it to produce more seedheads.

Secondly, as part of the process of producing seedheads the visible appearance of the Poa plant will change as it channels resources up the plant, away from the lower leaves towards the emerging seedhead. So the Poa plants leaves become broader and paler and hence more visible.

Lastly, because of this upward movement of nutrient it will be less efficient in terms of uptake of foliar-applied nutrients so if you’re trying to feed a stressed out Poa plant don’t expect a shed-load of response from foliar-applied nutrient.

Therein lies the rub of why maintaining high % Poa annua swards can be difficult at this time of year if we run into a spell of cool and dry conditions. You don’t get much response from foliars because of the reasons mentioned above and there isn’t enough moisture about to make a granular fertiliser application that efficient. In some ways we are between a rock and a hard place.

Now if you’re in a geographical area where moisture / E.T isn’t or hasn’t been an issue then I fully appreciate the above isn’t your bag, but the point is it is for some and that’s who I am addressing….

You can see how the GDD / G.P stacks up for the next 7 days and that’s pretty minimal…

Meteoturf100417

So for me although foliar inputs to Poa annua aren’t likely to be brilliant in terms of response, I think little and often is the way to go at present….

Don’t put the plant under more stress…

So if you are one of ones in a high E.T / low rainfall area I wouldn’t suggest rolling out the groomers, verticutters or Poa busters just yet because all you will do is elevate the level of stress on the grass plant and drive the seedhead process even more. Since the plant is focussed on seedhead production and not shoots you’ll end up thinning your sward out and leaving plenty of voids for Poa annua var. annua to exploit (because it’s already seeding) and / or moss.

Personally I think it’s a time to keep the plant happy, make sure soil moisture levels are acceptable and definitely a time to apply good quality biostimulants that are proven to reduce plant stress levels…

Insect Damage

Leatherjacketfeedinghole

Quite a lot of reports of continuing damage from Leatherjackets with plenty of exit holes visible especially on newly-cored / aerated greens. I swear at the weekend when I was walking across grassland leys I could see small Crane Flies coming up from the grass as I walked but maybe it’s my over-sensitive imagination :) Obviously we have nothing on-label to use at present but I am hopeful that at some point in the future we will have access to a product because agriculture is in the same boat and that means there’s a big fat potential market for a chemical company.

Ok that’s it for this week, tempus fugit and all that….There won’t be a blog next week as I’m having a break….

All the best and Happy Easter.

Mark Hunt

 

 

April 3rd

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Hi All,

Thornton010417Frit

Well April certainly started off with sunshine and showers. I was fly fishing on Saturday with warm sunshine interspersed with some angry showers as you can see from the image above. The air was full of midges, House Martins, Sand Martins and some Swallows, all intent on putting on some insect-based calories after their mammoth flight up from Africa to the U.K. It’s a great time of year isn’t it if you’re out and about seeing everything bursting out of its winter drabness. And you get some real gems as well with these beautiful Snakes Head Fritillaries poking up to say hello. The pattern on their flowers is so intricate…

Last week I predicted that this week would be dominated by high pressure and I’m delighted to say that has come to pass so a much drier week in prospect but with high pressure comes cool nights and they as we all know are the hand brake to grass growth…So let’s look at this week’s weather in detail and a sneak preview on the run up to Easter which you may wish I hadn’t done when you see what’s on the horizon next week…

General Weather Situation

So a pretty straight-forward week to forecast on my side as high pressure is calling the shots but there will be a bit of rain about at the start of the week.

So Monday sees a cool bright start for most of the U.K and Ireland but already we have a band of rain just tipping into the west coast of Ireland. This will move eastwards across Ireland through the morning and early afternoon, decreasing in intensity as it does so. For the U.K we look to stay dry all Monday morning but by the early afternoon that band of light rain is into north west Scotland. By late afternoon it pushes south and east into central and south west Scotland so a wet end to the day here. Further south across England and Wales a pretty nice day actually, dry with long extended periods of sunshine. Temperature-wise I think we will see 15-17°C for central and southern parts, Wales as well, 12-14°C for Ireland and Scotland under that thicker cloud and rain. The wind will be predominantly from the south for most places and light to moderate away from that rain and moderate to strong under it.

Moving onto Tuesday and the remnants of that rain will be present as thicker cloud and some mizzly drizzle over England and Wales as we start the day. So a cool start here with that cloud cover pegging back temperatures but the areas that suffered the cloud cover on Monday (Ireland and Scotland) will see more in the way of sunshine on Tuesday. That thick cloud moves eastwards through the day so a cool, dull day for central and eastern England, warmer in the north, west, across Scotland and Ireland where you’ll see more of the sun. That thick cloud may be thick enough to bring some light rain and heavy drizzle to England on Tuesday. Temperature-wise, cooler for sure under that cloud so maybe 13-15°C across the south of the U.K and despite the sun for Ireland and Scotland it’ll feel cooler here as well, 11-13°C and that’s because of the wind direction. During Tuesday the wind will swing round from the west to a more northerly direction and that’s because the leading edge of the high is pushing in. It’s this wind that will peg back temperatures along with thicker cloud in places.

Mid-week and we are into Wednesday and we start with a near ground frost I think across the south and east of England where the skies are likely to be be clear overnight. For Ireland, Wales, the north of England and Scotland you should be spared this with more in the way of overnight cloud cover but it’ll feel cool on Wednesday make no mistake. That cloud cover for Ireland looks to stay in situ most of the day so a cool, dry day on the cards here. For the east of Scotland and England, more in the way of sunshine here and that’ll lift the temperatures a little, but further west and south across Wales and central England, Scotland, you’ll see more cloud. So dry but cool on Wednesday with a north westerly wind in situ and that’ll peg back temperatures to 11-14°C for most places, maybe higher where you see the sun.

Thursday sees another cool start for the U.K as you’re likely to have had clear skies overnight. Further west across Ireland though you’ll keep that thicker cloud cover to start the day I’m afraid. Through Thursday morning that cloud cover will sit over Ireland and Scotland (maybe the east will miss the worst), thick enough for some light rain in places it’ll be a cool, dull day here I’m afraid. England and Wales look to steal the show from a sunshine perspective and so we see a clear split in temperatures, 9-12°C across Ireland and Scotland under that cloud and 12-14°C across England and Wales. Through the day that cloud will if anything thicken over Scotland to bring drizzle and light rain across most areas as we go through the afternoon / evening. Most areas will still have a north westerly wind in place but it will be much lighter on Thursday and during the day it’ll begin to move round to the west.

Closing out the week on Friday we see a real change in temperature particularly for the west where you’ll now pick up the south and westerly winds from the high pressure as it moves eastwards so here we’ll see some nice increases in temperature to the high teens I think over Ireland and Wales. For Scotland and England it’ll feel milder as we enjoy more westerly winds but they’ll be more thicker cloud for Scotland and that’ll push in some showers into the north west of Scotland and central regions through the day. Further south over England you’ll enjoy more of the sunshine and so a warmer day to finish off the week so I think 12-14°C under that cloud in the north and 14-18°C in the sunshine. (probably highest across eastern Ireland and Wales)

Looking ahead to the weekend I think I got the last two weekends pretty spot on so here goes for a three in the row accumulator. (Obviously introducing a horse racing theme as we have The Grand National on Saturday 8th April :) ). So how will we be looking for that great sporting event ? Well after a cloudy start for many I think Saturday is likely to be a beautiful day for most areas with Ireland, Wales and England enjoying bright sunshine and warming temperatures pushing up into the mid to high teens in places. Scotland and possibly the west of Ireland though may stay blanketed under that stubborn-to-go low cloud base and here it’ll be a duller, cooler affair. With a south westerly wind pushing up the temperatures I think 15-17°C in the sunshine and unfortunately 10-13°C under the cloud on Saturday. Sunday looks the slightly lesser partner of the weekend at this stage with thicker cloud cover pushing into most areas but temperatures are looking likely to hold up.  That cloud cover is signalling the arrival of an Atlantic low pressure that is set to dominate next week’s weather so all change I think from the dry theme.

Weather Outlook

So this week we sit under a nice peak in the jet stream and next week it’s trough time…As hinted at the start of this blog, next week couldn’t be more different with a much more unsettled theme to the weather starting off on Monday with rain already into Ireland courtesy of that Atlantic low pressure system and this will push eastwards to most areas through the latter part of Monday . Thereafter we look to be staying unsettled with a south westerly wind and frequent rain I’m afraid. Mid-week we look to have another low pressure slinking into the trough pattern and that means it is projected to sit right over the U.K and Ireland, so at this stage I foresee a wet and cool start to the Easter Bank Holiday.

Agronomic Notes

Ok so it’s the start of the month and as usual we’ll have a look back at the GDD and G.P data for March. I’m missing some of my usual contributors data so you’ll have to bear with me but I understand everyone is busy, so not a problem. For the vast majority of you, the spring is really early and we are significantly ahead of 2016 in terms of cumulative GDD, but let’s look at some U.K and Irish data to summarise March 2017..

GDDRainfallUKMarch2017

Four locations only this month but they tell a real story in terms of growth and also rainfall.

The highest growth levels have been experienced in the south of England with a total GDD of 126.5 recorded for Guildford and Thame not much behind either at 115.1.

Our Devon location (cheers Pete) was a bit on the cooler side and you can see why when we look at rainfall totals, 146mm for the Devon location and so the extra cloud cover has reduced the potential for growth, particularly at the start of the month. That shows that the rain was mainly Atlantic low pressure-based because it always hits the south west of England first when it is in this weather pattern. The same is true for Ireland as you’ll see shortly.

Fife, normally a temperate region of Scotland, highlights the north / south divide when it comes to the weather with a GDD figure of 48.6, so that’s approximately 38% of the growth in this location compared to Guildford.

IrelandGDDRainfallMar2017

For Ireland the situation in terms of GDD and rainfall is much more consistent with very little in the way of variation between Dublin, Cork and the west of Ireland. Valentia as usual shows more GDD. Look though at the rainfall pattern with the south and west of Ireland receiving a very high total rainfall for March 2017, but Dublin missed the vast majority of it with half of Valentia and Claremorris’s total.

Pattern of growth – March 2017

GuildfordMar2017GP

So we can see that in the south of England we enjoyed some very good periods of spring growth especially towards the end of the month. Interestingly we didn’t have 1 day in March 2016 when we exceeded a growth potential of 0.4 which highlights just what a poor month it was growth wise…

The pattern in Fife is very different…

FifeMar2017GP

Here we can see a cool start to March in Scotland, a reasonable mid-month period but strong spring growth didn’t really get going until the last two days of the month. Below is the same graph for Dublin (bearing in mind, Dublin, Cork and Claremorris were all very similar in terms of growth during March 2017)

DublinMar2017GP

A cross really between Fife and Guildford with some better growth mid-month and then strong growth at the end of March.

So how far ahead of 2016 are we ?

I’ve picked two locations to do a comparison, Guildford and Dublin.

I’d like to do more but it take simply ages to collate the data and put the graphs together.

It is worth it though when you look at the results (well I think so anyway :))

So first off Guildford, where do we stack up vs. 2016 ?

GDDCompMar20172016Guildford

So you can see the big difference in 2017 was the steady incremental rise in GDD from around the 7th of March, whereas in 2016 the graph is shallower and that means slower growth. You can actually see if you follow the 2016 graph through March and April that it flattens out at the end of April 2016 and that’s because we were still getting frosts right up to the start of May last year :(

So in the south of England, typically we are 3 weeks ahead of last year growth-wise.

Onto Ireland and using Dublin as an example the results are even more marked when you compare 2017 with 2016…

GDDCompMar20172016dUBLIN

Same exercise, different result and you can see how brutally slow a spring it was last year compared to 2017. If you follow the blue graph through April and into May you can see strong growth didn’t really start in 2016 until the end of April whereas growth started in 2017 way back in mid-February. Following the 2017 cumulative GDD from the end of March (148.9) it took me until the 8th of May, 2016 before I reached the same total, that’s a clear 5 weeks difference !

The coming week…

So this week we are dry but cooler, especially if you have either cloud cover or clear skies and a cool start to the day. That north westerly wind will also peg back temperatures mid-week as well…

My advice is to work hard to get any ongoing projects finished off this week, any outstanding renovations you’re thinking of getting done because by next week it’s going to be much harder to achieve the same result because of the rain and ever-present south westerly wind I think.

I don’t often pick South Wales as an area but let’s look at how Meteoturf projects growth and E.T here for the coming week ……

SouthWalesMeteoturf030417

We can see consistent growth through the week, not at the same level as last week mind but consistent nonetheless.

That surface is drying out….

You can also see that we have 12mm of E.T projected for this week in South Wales and coupled with a warm, windy Sunday it means the surface of the rootzone is going to dry out quickly.

I could already see some areas of green showing moisture stress on Friday last week so have the usual spring dilemna…to water or not to water. Now a lot of areas have had plenty of rainfall of late so this isn’t relevant to you, but some areas are dry and with a windy, drying week coming up, those rootzone moisture levels will drop markedly, especially at the surface.

For me it makes sense to do a short irrigation cycle ideally in the morning (depending on play levels / numbers) to just wet up the surface of the rootzone and ensure moisture continuity with adequate moisture deeper down the profile. You can achieve the same result by hand-watering the hotspots and leave the main irrigation alone for the time-being.

The argument about not wanting to apply cool water is largely redundant this year as we are warmer and also like most years we will enter a period of the spring when growth is limited not by temperature but by moisture availability. Even though you may have a moisture meter, remember that unless you have a shorter, custom probe (20mm) you’ll probably be measuring deeper than the issue with the standard 55-60mm probes.

Ok that’s it for this week, a lot of data to collate, thanks to everyone for their contributions and I’m glad we only do a GDD summary once a month !

All the best..

Mark Hunt