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.
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 🙂
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.
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…
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…)
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…
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…
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.